This is one of the funniest videos I’ve seen in a long, long time. To see the people on this video talk about why being board certified makes you a better orthodontist is sheer entertainment. Why?

  1. This obvious, concerted application of peer pressure to try and force conformity and compliance among the young in our profession is sickening and the ABO‘s efforts are only surpassed by the AAOF’s predation of residents via the Vanguard Program. I guess funny is not the word for it. Sickening is probably more accurate. It boils my blood to see the AAO and its satellites harness their beneficiaries’ positions of power and utilize their “authority” to squeeze every dime they can out of residents who are graduating with nothing but an orthodontic certificate and a ton of debt. These graduates have to face a competitive market that is unimaginable to the older generation of orthodontists in leadership positions who depend on donations from AAO members to sustain the standard of living and maintain the public accolades to which they have become accustomed. No one in the leadership, the AAO, the ABO or the AAOF cares what happens to the young orthodontists as long as the money keeps rolling in and they keep moving up the feed trough.
  2. If we must judge fellow orthodontists, we should judge a clinician and/or the orthodontic residency program they run/ran on their AVERAGE case that walks in the door on a daily basis not on a few, cherry picked cases as the ABO suggests. In that light if you want to evaluate an orthodontist, go to their orthodontic residency program or their office and look around at the cases and see how long overtime they are. You may also want to see how many cases they actually treat…
  3. Becoming ABO certified does NOT make you a better orthodontist. I would argue it does quite the opposite. It encourages you to get bogged down in the minutia and makes you lose track of the fact that we are in the people business working on teeth, not the teeth business working on people. Of course we want root parallelism and aligned marginal ridges and the best possible technical result for every patient but we also want happy, satisfied patients and that is multi-factorial. Not to mention root parallelism and marginal ridge alignment can be contradictory depending on the anatomy! I have long wanted to do a study that looked at how long “ABO  Cases” take vs regular cases in residency and in private practice. I’m betting the results will be statistically significant…
  4. One can get ABO Certified while in school. How does presenting cases that were done under the supervision of faculty give a freshly minted orthodontist the authority and skill to claim superiority over other, non-ABO orthodontists who have treated hundreds or even thousands of patients successfully?
  5. While on that subject, I love that the ABO and the AAO have the nerve to say an ABO orthodontist who shows 6 cherry picked cases is better than an orthodontist who refuses to pay more money for a piece of paper and isn’t willing to prostrate themselves before a bunch of academics who can’t hack it in private practice. But these same people are NOT willing to say that orthodontists are more qualified than PCDs even though we have YEARS of formal training beyond dental school and had to out compete our dental school classmates to get the chance. The ABO leadership will beat up their fellow orthodontists because that’s what academics do. The sad part is they have trained so many others to do the same.
  6. The public doesn’t know what an orthodontists is, much less a board certified orthodontist. I guess that’s the good news and the bad news in this scenario.
Wake up. Use some common sense. Invest your time, money and your mind wisely and encourage others to do the same. Don’t swallow the “facts” just because a program director, a bunch of people who have “done this for 30 years” or even all your friends say it is so. Think for yourself and challenge everything. Don’t take my word for it! Do your own research. The facts are self-evident once you escape the groupthink that dominates our profession.
A few more things to consider based on conversations I’ve had. First, here’s a great paper on the ABO that wasn’t widely publicized. I wonder why?
abo paper photo
Another strike against the ABO exam and the ABO establishment is that requiring educators to be ABO certified effectively insures that many successful private practitioners who would love to teach, won’t. This protects the academics but hurts the kids in residency. I know the ABO doesn’t care but this will hurt the profession massively in an ever more competitive world.

11 thoughts on “ABO’s A Joke

  1. You speak the truth Ben. We have so much work to do to promote our profession to the public, yet we are caught up spending money on this? Perhaps the main motivation is self-preservation for the old foggies of the ABO. The ones who probably have to be most worried about preservation are the educators. The landscape is changing and dental students are soon becoming to realize that they need an orthodontic certificate (unless it’s an ego thing to be an “orthodontist”), especially when learning is so readily available through the Invisalign website, Facebook forums, and worse of all, sell-out orthodontists and know-it-all orthodentists. Thanks again Ben.

  2. I let my ABO certification lapse, I guess I’m not as good of an orthodontist as them…..

  3. I think you’re wrong on this one Ben. I watched the video. I didn’t think they were saying they were better than other orthodontists, just personally better than they were before. I’m sure there are doctors that get nothing out of the process, but others definitely do. I did. Everyone I’ve met on the ABO board seems pretty sincere about promoting higher quality orthodontics. It doesn’t mean all board certified orthodontist are good, but I think it’s important to have an organization that at least promotes it. Just like it’s important to have other organizations that help on the business/patient management side of things. I think it would be pretty much the greatest thing ever if you became board certified. You could be the poster child. Think about it.

  4. I don’t doubt for a second that you and many others believe I’m wrong. And that’s your right but it doesn’t make you correct. If you want to refute my position you’ll have to address each of the 6 points above, the post script and the article I included. Your opinion and how you feel about it just doesn’t get the job done. FYI, I was ABO certified what seemes like a lifetime ago. I paid my 1800 bucks and got my Gateway because it was what I was told to do. What a joke that was. What a dumbass I was! I’m still gullible but I’m getting less so. We orthodontists will have to get collectively less dumb and do so quickly if we hope to survive snd thrive in the rapidly changing dental landscape.
    Thanks for taking the time to comment Aaron!

  5. Dr. Burris, it is my understanding that the AAO has nothing to do with the programs, policies, procedures of the ABO.

  6. Absolutely. Just like the State Dental Associations have nothing to do with who is on the State Dental Board. C’mon let’s deal in the real world not in technicalities. Have a look at the big wigs in the AAO, AAOF, ABO and the AAOIC and tell me they are independent entities.

  7. After 10 years of private practice I considered myself successful and really didn’t want to go through the rigors of board certification. I am forever grateful for a personal call from Dr. Vince Kokich Sr. that inspired me to take the plunge. It gave me the opportunity to look at every case I had treated for the past 10 years – what an eye opener! It was amazing that I could recall the personality and human relationship attached to each set of those records. It didn’t make me a better orthodontist than you, but it definitely made me a better orthodontist then I was.

    Regardless of the egos, imperfections and politics in our profession, I am grateful for some of those “old fogies” that led the way to create the best career ever.

  8. I’m so glad you enjoyed the process of getting ABO certified. I’m glad you feel it made you better. Taking on projects and challenging yourself is always worthwhile. That being said, if you would like to refute my position it would be useful if you would address the points in the post explaining why I think what I think about the ABO. Your testimonial is inspiring but feelings don’t help much when it comes to a logical discussion about why it’s dumb to promote one orthodontist above another on totally random and irrelevant selection criteria when we are unwilling, as individuals and as a profession, to promote orthodontic specialists over PCDs.
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope to hear more from you on the subject.

  9. And thanks for the reminder about Dr Kokich Sr! I need to add him to the most recent blog post.

  10. Dr. Burris
    Please allow me to take a minute to respond to your response.

    First, I did not say I enjoyed the process of getting ABO certified. It was eye opening to learn consistent deficiencies in my technique and amazing that I remembered so much about each patient, but it was not an enjoyable process.
    The time, energy, travel and logistics were stressful and challenging. Granted, there was great satisfaction after achieving the summit, but not during the process.

    Second, I don’t “feel” getting ABO certified made me better. In my situation, I know it did. I would challenge anyone to critically evaluate every single case they treated in the past 10 years and then come back and tell me it didn’t make them better at what they do going forward.

    Thirdly, you state “feelings don’t help much when it comes to a logical discussion” yet in your post you talk about
    “funny,” “sickening,” “…that we are in the people business working on teeth,…” and “…we also want happy satisfied patients and that is multi factorial.” Seems you and I are emotional (maybe spiritual) beings just as much as logical thinkers. I think feelings do count.

    Fourthly, when you state “if you would like to refute my position it would be useful if you would address the points in the post explaining why I think what I think about the ABO,” I certainly could do that (and it would be somewhat entertaining as you set yourself up for controversy- I think that is one of your gifts). However, life is too short for me to try and convince you, or any of your followers, of anything and personally I don’t get my significance from that. I will say that many of your points are spot-on, some are genius and some are asinine. A perfect example is your last paragraph after point #6:

    (The spot-on part) “Wake up. Use some common sense. Invest your time, money and your mind wisely and encourage others to do the same. Don’t swallow the “facts” just because a program director, a bunch of people who have done this for 30 years or even all your friends say it is so.”
    (The genius part) “Think for yourself and challenge everything. Don’t take my word for it! Do your own research.”
    (The asinine part) “The facts are self-evident once you escape the groupthink that dominates our profession.”
    ***POST SCRIPT***
    Concerning the “great paper on the ABO that wasn’t widely publicized,” I don’t get it. The article was published in the AJODO. It’s not like it was “buried” or not published???

  11. Interesting. So you “could do it” but you won’t because life is too short? Huh. Based on this comment it looks like you had plenty of time on your hands.
    Also, I’m afraid you’re confused when it comes to followers. I’m the minority voice and the ABO and AAO are the ones with the massive following. Why is it so upsetting to people like you for someone like me to question the status quo and point out that tens of millions of dollars are being wasted and people are being abused? Does it not sicken you to see the youth of our profession fall prey to schemes designed to bilk them out of their hard earned, borrowed money and give them nothing useful in return? Can you not understand that dentists with ZERO formal training in orthodontics do the majority of orthodontics in this country? Can you not grasp that no matter how good an orthodontist you are, if you go broke you can’t help anyone?
    Don’t you feel it’s good to have someone like me questioning everything -ESPECIALLY the stuff we take for granted as a profession? Don’t you understand that I have to make a little noise to be heard by the majority who agrees with you and make them consider an alternative POV? Can’t you see that the orthodontic establishment has changed more in the last two years than in the prior 50? Don’t you know that the legion of committees that make up the establishment now have to think about what they do carefully because if they do stupid stuff or waste money I will lampoon them publicly? Isn’t that a good thing?
    The orthodontic profession is in serious jeopardy but becoming a better clinician will not fix what ails us. Again, I’m glad you feel better about yourself being ABO certified but that has nothing to do with this blog post. Thanks again for taking the time.

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