Our Blog

The Road to ABO Certification

January 11th, 2018

The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) was established in 1929 and is the oldest specialty board in dentistry. The ABO is the only certifying board in the specialty that is recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). The board's purpose is to elevate the quality of orthodontic care for the public by promoting excellence through certification, education and professional collaboration. Not all orthodontists are board certified. All orthodontists must be licensed to practice, however board certification is a voluntary achievement that all orthodontists do not choose to pursue.

In December 1998, I completed my orthodontic residency at Saint Louis University (Masters in Specialized Dentistry-Orthodontics). I started work at OSS immediately after completing my comprehensive exams and defending my thesis. I took those exams in Saint Louis, packed up my stuff, drove back to Fort Wayne and started work with my father, brother, and uncle in private practice at OSS the very next workday. At that time very few orthodontists in the state of Indiana were ABO certified (in Northern Indiana maybe only four). The ABO certification process has proven to be incredibly valuable to me by changing the way I look at case results.

How to become ABO certified...

The ABO exam is a three-part exam. The first part is a written exam, similar to the SAT, but it only focuses on orthodontic related science. The second part is the board case records exam, which is a face to face oral examination involving clinical case records. Its purpose is to test the candidate's ability to diagnose and identify various orthodontic problems, and his or her knowledge of possible treatment options for correcting those problems. The third part of the exam is the clinical exam. This exam involves presenting cases treated by the candidate with extensive measurement and documentation of the pre and post-treatment results. Most orthodontists who complete the ABO process spend about 10 years in private practice accumulating case records and developing skills prior to taking the clinical exam (part three).

I began the ABO certification process as a resident by passing the written portion of the exam. After completing my Master’s Degree, I started to collect case records in preparation for the clinical portion of the ABO exam. I was tracking the progress of specific cases that would qualify for the various categories that the ABO required candidates to present. About a year and a half later some of those cases were coming to completion and I began the arduous task of measuring models, tracing and measuring x-rays and scoring the cases to see how well they finished. I felt confident that all of the cases I finished were excellent examples of skilled orthodontic treatment, and that they would score very well….I was wrong!

The cases displayed wonderful before and after results. They looked great and the teeth fit well in the bite. X-rays and photos indicated that all of the major aspects of health function and aesthetics were super. BUT when I started measuring, looking at smaller discrepancies, adding up all of the minor imperfections, and critically assessing more detailed aspects of the finished result, many of the cases I was most proud of did not “measure up” to the ABO standard of excellence. What I discovered was that only about twenty percent of the cases that I hoped would serve as ABO cases for a specific category were really the type of case that the ABO would find excellent.

During the process of measuring every detail of many, many cases I started to identify patterns of imperfection. I found areas in treatment results that consistently were NOT finishing as well as they could. Without spending countless hours literally “measuring imperfection” and critically reviewing my own case results, I never would have discovered there were imperfections that I could eventually PREDICT AND CORRECT BEFORE a case was even treated! I discovered that in certain patients the braces would produce rotations or tipping of the roots in x-rays. I learned to take progress records during treatment and also learned precisely where to look for discrepancies, identifying them earlier in treatment, improving both treatment time and results.

You may be asking what is required to maintain ABO certification?

Re-certification of ABO status is a relatively recent development and the requirements for re-certification are constantly changing. When I took the written exam it was explained to us that we would be the first class of orthodontists taking the ABO exam that would be subject to continual re-certification. In 1996 it was announced that all candidates taking the written exam would be required to re-certify every 10 years. Prior to this re-certification was not required for orthodontists who took the written exam.

I completed the board certification process in 2005, and I found the entire process of studying, gathering case records, measuring results, and receiving critical feedback from the examiners to be one of the most valuable learning experiences of my whole career.

How and Why You Should Choose an Orthodontist

October 30th, 2017

Recently I’ve had questions from acquaintances and friends asking how to choose a provider and/or a treatment method for their orthodontic needs.


There are many myths about orthodontists and orthodontic treatment, and finding an AAO orthodontist is the easiest way to identify that the provider is in fact a specialist in orthodontics. Not all providers of orthodontic services are orthodontists.

Orthodontists have completed four years of dental school, AND an additional two to three years of full-time university training specifically in orthodontics. That full-time training involves intensive study of facial growth and development, bone physiology, functional relationships of the teeth and jaws, and a variety of treatment techniques...with and without the use of braces. An AAO orthodontist will know which techniques are best suited to your specific health and cosmetic needs.

Many states, including Indiana, do not require the additional years of training in orthodontics for providers to practice orthodontics. ONLY providers who have completed the two to three extra years of training are eligible to display the AAO logo. If the AAO logo is not displayed, specifically ask your provider: “Have you completed a full time university program in specialized orthodontics?”  (If so.. they will have a masters degree or certificate of residency completion from that university…usually proudly on display). This additional two to three years of university training defines what it means to be a specialist.

DON’T BE FOOLED- a certificate of intensive course completion from a corporation IS NOT a degree in orthodontics! (I get about three of these training certificates each year. All that is required to obtain those is to pay for a course, sit, and listen.)

There are many treatment techniques in the marketplace that I refer to as “packaged services”, clear aligners being the most common. Clear aligner companies often generate a predicted treatment outcome for the practitioner and then provide appliances which can approximate the predicted outcome. These “packaged services” are frequently offered as the only option by the non-specialist, because the treatment course can be set by the manufacturer of the appliance, requiring little knowledge of how orthodontic tooth movement works on the part of the health care provider. There are even companies that directly market appliances to consumers, leaving the dentist/orthodontist supervision out of the equation. Realize that the “appliance” (braces or aligners) is not the treatment!  Proper diagnosis of the underlying cause of your orthodontic problems is necessary to determine the most effective, healthy, and stable way to correct them. Only an orthodontist has the formal training to offer you a complete variety of treatment options which consider your health and your personal preferences. There are also “packaged service” options offering quick treatment using braces, typically six-month treatment promising to align and correct your crooked smile. Some orthodontic problems are completely correctable with aligners, and/or with six months of braces...great news! But BEWARE that providers that ONLY offer clear aligners and or six-month treatments are not likely specialists! These quick fix offerings are easy to sell, provide great profitability for the healthcare provider, and require very little training to implement (one weekend hotel course and you’re a “certified” provider).

True specialists also have specially trained staff to assist in your treatment. Ask your provider about the training of their staff in addition to your questions about specialty training of the doctor. All of the clinical technicians in my practice are Trapezio AOA (Academy of Orthodontic Assisting) Gold Certified.  This certification demonstrates clear knowledge of a variety of orthodontic techniques and orthodontic treatment principles. In a specialist’s office, staff are expertly trained and highly skilled in performing orthodontic appliance adjustments. These skilled assistants save you time in the chair at each visit, and provide more comfortable and efficient appointments. An orthodontic assistant in a specialist’s office will perform more orthodontic appliance adjustments in one year than a typical non-specialist dentist will in a whole career!

Breast Cancer Awareness

October 4th, 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness is something that is near and dear to our hearts at OSS. For many years we, with the help of our patients, have been raising money during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this year is no exception!

We will donate $1 to Breast Cancer Research for each patient that wears pink to their regularly scheduled appointment during the month of October. As an added bonus, we will award 5 extra points to each patient's Smile Rewards Card!

Last year $189 was raised and donated to Breast Cancer Research through a similar fundraiser, and we are hoping to beat that amount this year! Help spread the word by sharing this post!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Aron!

September 8th, 2017

If you follow us on our Facebook Page then you know that we love to celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, babies, and the list goes on and on!

Dr. Aron recently celebrated his birthday and one day in the office last month we asked our patients to write down a birthday sentiment including their favorite thing or favorite memory of Dr. Aron. We had so many great responses and here are a few!

"Whenever I have an appointment he always comes in with a smile on his face and asks me how my day is going or about school. He's always so cheerful and lighthearted."
-Hannah Age: 14

"When I got my expanders and I didn't want them, he talked me through it and everything was ok."
-Maddy Age: 11

"He's a great guy and always takes my concerns seriously and is always caring!"
-Nicole Age: 27

"He is always so kind and friendly to everyone. He always says hi and asks about vacations. Dr. Aron never forgets a name. He is a great orthodontist and I'm glad I have him as one!"
-Morgan Age: 13

"Dr. Aron is always interested in my hobbies and other things going on in my life."
-Piper Age: 12

"My favorite memory/thing [about] Dr. Aron is how he is super encouraging and nice. Whenever I had questions he would answer them. Thank you for always telling me my smile was beautiful."
-Mary Age: 14

"My favorite thing about Dr. Aron is how personable he is. He never makes me feel like a patient, but always a friend. Happy Birthday!"
-Libby Age: 16

We would love to hear your favorite thing or favorite memory of Dr. Aron. Tell us in the comments below or on our Dr. Aron's Birthday Facebook Post!

AAO AOA Team Certified Gold ABO SmartClip SL3 CareCredit

Patient Rewards

Patients will be rewarded points, redeemable for prizes! Successful orthodontics is a team effort and YOU are our key player! We have created the Smile Rewards card to recognize your accomplishments and congratulate your winning achievements. Our Smile Rewards card is an incentive program based on your compliance. You set the bar...every visit is an opportunity to earn points and cool prizes. Learn More

Back to Top sesame communicationsWebsite Powered by Sesame 24-7™ | Site Map