Board Certification

Board Certification is the process by which dentists (DDS, DMD), physicians (MD, DO) or other healthcare practitioners in the United States demonstrate through written, oral, practical, and/or simulator based testing, a mastery of the basic knowledge and skills that define an area of dental/medical specialization. The commonly used acronym BE/BC (board eligible/board certified) refers to a doctor who is certified, or is eligible to be certified, to announce specialization in a particular area of practice.  Prior to taking the examination, a dentist or physician must graduate with a degree, either DDS, DMD, MD or DO, complete approved post-graduate training and meet all other prerequisites to certification as set forth by the certifying agency or “board.”  Board Certification helps ensure the public that formal training has been completed and a sufficient knowledge base in the specialty has been demonstrated.

Procedure for Recognition of New Certifying Boards

1. Criteria

A certifying board that is seeking membership in the American Board of Dental Specialties must:

  1. Exist as an independent, self-governing entity whose purpose is to evaluate candidates for board certification; 
  2. Certify diplomates in a distinct and well-defined area of expertise in dental practice, above and beyond that provided at the level of pre-doctoral dental education; that is founded in evidence-based science; contributes to professional growth and education; and encompasses the practice of dentistry; 
  3. Utilize a rigorous standard of education preparation and evaluation in the dental specialty area, including at least 2 full-time established advanced education programs; 
  4. Provide evidence that the diplomate examination is psychometrically evaluated in a manner sufficient to validate the examination; 
  5. Provide documentation of an effective mechanism to maintain or recertify diplomate status over time, including evidence of adequate board- approved continuing education. 

2. Application Process

      • To obtain an application, please email Amy Sarno at
      • The application and related documentation should be directed to:
        American Board of Dental Specialties
        Executive Director
        4411 Bee Ridge Road, #416
        Sarasota, FL 34233

The completed application must include a non-refundable application fee.

3. Specialty 

ABDS recognizes that there are varying levels of education and training required for board certification within specific areas of dentistry.  The Levels and their specific requirements for education, training and experience are:

    •  Dental Specialty

Certifying boards seeking Dental Specialty must require a minimum of two (2) full-time, formal, advanced educational programs that are a minimum of two (2) years in duration and are presented by recognized educational institutions:  Any alternate pathway must demonstrate it is equivalent with didactic, clinical and completed cases to their two-year post-graduate training program.

4. Approval as a Dental Specialty Board

  •   Following approval by the ABDS, the newly approved dental specialty board may announce through its members, its website or in press releases, that it has been certified as a dental specialty board by the American Board of Dental Specialties.
  •   The approved board will become a member of ABDS with all rights and privileges as outlined in the ABDS Bylaws.

5. Denial as a Dental Specialty Board

  •  Should the decision of ABDS be to deny the application, the applicant board may file a written appeal to the ABDS Executive Director according to the policies and procedures of the ABDS.