Undergraduate clinical orthodontic experience may be expressed in a variety of ways. The most common way (used, inter alia, in the DentEd school visits) is by number of curriculum hours. Other ways include the number of patients seen, or number of procedures carried out. Whilst any of these methods may allow comparison between cohorts of students within a school or between schools, none of them are suitable to determine how much experience is ‘satisfactory’, nor do they indicate what the student should know, understand, or be able to do, to be considered ‘satisfactory’, and hence fit to graduate. This situation may be addressed by the use of competences and/or learning outcomes, and in 2004 the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) adopted a document that contained one major competence and five supporting competences in orthodontics. This paper considers the shortcomings of conventional methods of recording orthodontic experience in relation to the acquisition of these competences, and some ways in which staff and students may assess competence.