The aims of this study were to assess and compare the methodological quality of Cochrane and non-Cochrane systematic reviews (SRs) published in leading orthodontic journals and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) using AMSTAR and to compare the prevalence of meta-analysis in both review types. A literature search was undertaken to identify SRs that consisted of hand-searching five major orthodontic journals [American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Angle Orthodontist, European Journal of Orthodontics, Journal of Orthodontics and Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research (February 2002 to July 2011)] and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from January 2000 to July 2011. Methodological quality of the included reviews was gauged using the AMSTAR tool involving 11 key methodological criteria with a score of 0 or 1 given for each criterion. A cumulative grade was given for the paper overall (0–11); an overall score of 4 or less represented poor methodological quality, 5–8 was considered fair and 9 or greater was deemed to be good. In total, 109 SRs were identified in the five major journals and on the CDSR. Of these, 26 (23.9%) were in the CDSR. The mean overall AMSTAR score was 6.2 with 21.1% of reviews satisfying 9 or more of the 11 criteria; a similar prevalence of poor reviews (22%) was also noted. Multiple linear regression indicated that reviews published in the CDSR (P < 0.01); and involving meta-analysis (β = 0.50, 95% confidence interval 0.72, 2.07, P < 0.001) showed greater concordance with AMSTAR.