Frequently Asked Questions

The following suggestions are intended to help examinees who are preparing to submit Mail-In Cases.

For additional questions, please contact the ABO Administrative Office.




  • READ, STUDY AND COMPLY with the instructions on the ABO website and be attentive to all details. 
  • The ABO has developed a Calibration Kit that the examinee may purchase. Although optional, the ABO highly recommends the use of the Calibration Kit to assist in making a qualitative assessment of the final records of cases selected for the clinical exam. This kit contains three sets of pre-measured casts with scoring keys, the grading system instructional manual, and a measuring gauge. The Examiners will be using the same grading system contained in this kit to evaluate treatment results. The Calibration Kit can be found on the ABO website/ABO Store.


Case Selection

My patient refused my primary treatment plan to a difficult malocclusion. Therefore, I devised a compromised treatment plan that did not result in an ideal outcome. I feel that this case is interesting. Would this be an acceptable case to bring to the board?

The examinee is expected to bring cases that are challenging and represent his or her best work. The Board expects all case exhibits to be well treated. Simply put, poorly finished exhibits, even though they may be difficult and interesting, are not acceptable.

Does the board recommend presenting a surgical case, even though it is not required?

The examinee is expected to bring cases that are challenging and represent his or her best work. If you choose to bring a surgical case, a complete set of Interim or Pre-Surgical records must be present. The examinee is expected to understand exactly what happened during the treatment of each patient, including work done by other specialists. It should be clear that a surgical orthodontic case had a pre-surgical treatment plan. The examinee must know what surgical procedures were performed and the extent to which his or her pre-surgical treatment goals were achieved. Simple alignment of the teeth and referral of the patient to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to decide what to do is unacceptable.

If second molars are unerupted, can the case be submitted or is second molar eruption a requirement of the finished case?

The second molars must be erupted and should be aligned in cases submitted for the ABO Clinical Examination. The second molars are scored on the Cast Radiographic Evaluation form.

I completed a case for a patient who had four first premolars extracted approximately 15 years prior to production of initial records. I began her treatment with 5 millimeters of extraction space present in each quadrant. Would this case fulfill the requirement of a four quadrant extraction case?

In order for this case to satisfy the requirement of a four quadrant extraction case, pre-extraction records would need be produced and presented. If these records are not available, the case would not fulfill the extraction case requirement. However, the case could be presented if the Discrepancy Index was sufficient to qualify it for the Clinical Examination.

May an educator present a case that was started by one resident then finished by a second resident?

If the faculty member supervised the diagnosis, treatment plan, placement of appliance, treatment progress, removal of the appliance and retainer placement, then yes, the educator may present the case as part of their six case submission.


Is a Class II Camouflage (Upper premolar extraction only) case acceptable to present to the ABO?

Class II cases treated to a Class II molar with the extraction of upper premolars only (camouflage) will not satisfy the Class II requirement, however they may be acceptable to satisfy a DI requirement.


Can I use a case for my extraction requirement where the teeth were previously removed?

You must effectively demonstrate management of the extraction space. A significant majority of the extraction space must remain prior to the initiation of orthodontic treatment.


Can I submit a case that has substantial root resorption?

Yes. There are no points added on the Cast Radiograph Evaluation (CRE) form for root resorption. However, point(s) may be added on the Case Management Form (CMF) if the root resorption is attributable to biomechanics or case management.


Can I substitute a Class III case for my Class II requirement?

No, the ABO does not accept substitutions for the Class II case requirement.


Is the Craniofacial clinical exam another type of Board Certification offered by the ABO?

No. The ABO offers one Certification. The Craniofacial exam was created for orthodontists who primarily treat patients with syndromic or craniofacial history which do not fit the standard case criteria.


Case Report Preparation

Can I abbreviate in my written case report?

The Written Case Report should be detailed enough so that the examiners can understand the appliance and principles that the examinee used in treatment. For instance, the statement "placement of a maxillary headgear" is not as precise as the statement "placement of a high-pull facebow headgear." Clearly identify the treatment objectives, evaluate whether or not you, as the exaimee, have met them, and comment appropriately.

Why do I have to enter treatment objectives in the written case report AND the case management form?

Do not confuse treatment objectives with appliances; i.e., placing a straight wire appliance, a TPA or a segmental arch is not a treatment objective. Treatment objectives relate to changes in dental, skeletal and soft tissue structures. The Case Management Form "Examinee Treatment Objectives" should be a summary of the objectives stated in the Written Case Report.

In scoring the Discrepancy Index, do I use the mid-facial, mesial-facial or distal-facial aspect of the teeth to score Anterior Overjet?

Be sure to consult the Discrepancy Index instructions as these are very specific for each parameter. Overjet is measured from the facial surface of the most lingual tooth (Mx or Mn) to the middle of the incisal edge of the most facially positioned tooth (Mx or Mn).

In scoring the Discrepancy Index or the Cast-Radiograph Evaluation, are the canines considered anterior or posterior teeth?

This answer depends on the parameter you are scoring. The examinee must consult the instructions for each parameter for accuracy. For example, in scoring Overjet the canines are not considered anterior teeth, but the canines are considered anterior teeth in the Anterior Open Bite parameter.

How is crowding assessed for the Discrepancy Index?

A line of occlusion is constructed from the mesial of the first molars over the mid-alveolus of the most crowded or spaced arch. Perimeter deficiency or excess is then noted and scored. The website instructs the examinee to refrain from scoring the Buccolingual Inclination of the lower FIRST premolars.

Does this also apply to the lower SECOND premolars?

All second premolars are scored in the Buccolingual Inclination parameter. The Cast-Radiograph Instruction Sheet indicates this requirement in the “Buccolingual Inclination” section.

Are the third molars scored if first molars were extracted?

If the third molars are substituted for the second molars in the final occlusal scheme, the thirds are scored exactly as second molars. In cases of second molar submission for missing / extracted first molars, the case is considered unfinished if the third molars have not erupted.  The third molars are not scored if the first and second molars are present.


Case Record Preparation

Can a panoramic radiograph produced three months prior to initiation of treatment qualify as an initial record for the Clinical Examination?

Yes. Likewise, a panoramic film taken three months before treatment completion could be used as a final record.

How strict is the Board regarding border trimming angles for study models?

The board seeks symmetry in model base trimming. A five degree tolerance in base angles is acceptable.

I am renovating my office and plan to install a contemporary CBCT imaging unit. Are CBCT images accepted for the Clinical Examination?

Yes. You can format the lateral cephalogram and panoramic views in JPEG images. Note that the lateral cephalogram will be available from either the left or right side of the mid-sagittal plane. Therefore you must maintain consistency in whichever side you choose to display, so comparison of pre- and post-treatment images are valid. CBCT images are also acceptable for periapical radiographs if required.


Can lingual fixed retainers be present when taking posttreatment records?

A fixed retainer may be in place when posttreatment records are taken. Be sure to smooth and polish models in such a manner that tooth and soft tissue detail is not destroyed.


Will Periodontal Screening Records (PSR) satisfy the periodontal documentation requirement?

No. Periodontal Screening Records do not meet the ABO standards for periodontal documentation.


How do I score the Cast Radiograph Evaluation if one or more second molars are missing?

The third molars as a second molar substitution will be scored unless they are absent.


Case Submission

How do I submit the patient HIPAA forms for each of my cases?

As part of the Agreement to Rules of Examination, examinees attest to having obtained the appropriate HIPAA forms from each patient being presented for clinical examination. It is the responsibility of the examinee to maintain the signed form, but it does not need to accompany the records submitted to the ABO.


I don't see a place to upload my affidavit or orthodontic certificate. How do I submit my affidavit and certificate?

Affidavits and program certificates must be sent to the ABO administrative office. Please email your affidavit and orthodontic program certificate to


I am creating a notebook for my patient records. Should I put the CRWF into sheet protectors?

No. Place the stapled CRWF into the pocket folder of the binder. 


I am presenting a SARPE case. I did the SARPE before bonding brackets. Do I identify this case as "surgical" in my WCR and do I need to include interim records?

Since SARPE is done at the beginning of treatment, initial records are sufficient. Therefore, interim records are not required and you do not need to indicate the case as surgical in the WCR.