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Periodontist: Education and Career Information

The healthcare landscape is continuously changing, but is always in high demand for professionals who want to make a difference. Although many people put a high emphasis on medical care and prevention, taking care of your mouth deserves just as much attention. Considering a career as a periodontist provides the opportunity to work with patients in keeping their oral health at optimal levels. This is a lucrative career choice, and can reap huge financial rewards.

What does a periodontist do?

A periodontist is a specialized dentist that diagnoses and treats problems in the tissue surrounding your teeth. They specialize in managing and preventing gum disease and other conditions, which include issues affecting the gums and other structures in the oral cavity that support the teeth. They can treat malformations and treat injuries. Some other issues they handle are rotting teeth and bone loss. Since they are a dentist, they can perform all of the standard procedures associated with healthy oral hygiene. A periodontist is considered a specialist in their field, and can also perform dental implants, bone grafts and extractions when needed. This makes them a dental surgeon as well.

How much does a periodontist earn?

According to Healthcare Salaries, a periodontist can average anywhere from $103,000 to $230,000 per year. Periodontists working in the educational field make between $102,000 and $192,000 per year, and when working in dental prosthetic, they can make from $113,000 to $213,000 per year. Salaries also vary based on location, experience and level of education. In the dental profession, a periodontist is one of the highest paid salaries.

What types of skills are needed in this profession?

You need a variety of skills working as a periodontist. Some of those skills include:

Reading Comprehension: A periodontist must be able to read and comprehend patient records and other information, including research and new innovations in dentistry.

Critical Thinking: Since they are dealing with oral care and prevention, periodontists must think critically about ways to rectify problems and solutions that will prevent those issues from occurring again. There is a high level of critical thinking involved to ensure the patients are getting the right diagnosis and solution for treatment.

Decision-Making: When evaluating the condition of a patient, a periodontist must be able to make sound decisions based on the information received. When having to perform surgeries, the amount of anesthesia, time of day, and any other underlying factors must be taken into account when making decisions that will affect a number of areas.

Monitoring: Before, during and after any procedures, a periodontist must monitor the patient. They must be able to foresee any complications, and have a treatment plan in place.

Problem Solving: Being able to effectively solve any problems that arise is one of the most essential skills a periodontist must have. When dealing with medical or dental procedures, there are a number of things that can occur; being able to handle them with a level head is key.

Management of Resources: Being able to manage a variety of resources at one time takes skill and knowledge. A periodontist will be responsible for a number of resources that will benefit the practice and the client. Being able to keep things in order is a valued part of this profession.

Coordination: Coordinating procedures, visits and other things is one of the daily tasks of a periodontist. Being able to successfully coordinate with the client and other professionals in the office on issues that may be of concern is important.

Administrative: As technology continues to be an integral part of every profession, being able to handle administrative tasks is key, especially if working in a private practice. Knowing how to evaluate billing, work with insurance companies and all other administrative aspects of the office will ensure things are in order.

Internship requirements

The last two years of dental school will be clinical internships under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Every dental school has their own set of requirements, which may require more clinical internship hours based on the specialty.

Education requirements

A career as a periodontist starts with the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Once this has been attained, following up with dental school to obtain a Doctor of Medicine (DMD), or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) is the next step. In order to be considered as a candidate for dental school, students must pass the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). Prospective students must also have letters of recommendation and pass an interview before admittance. Some of the core coursework once admitted into the program includes:

•Restorative dentistry
•Introduction to medicine

After dental school is completed, students who wish to pursue a career in periodontics must enroll into a graduate program and obtain a Ph.D., which is three additional years of study. Once this has been completed, the individual must pass the National Board Examination, which consists of a written and practical exam. There may also be certain requirements needed for individual states in order to become licensed and practice as a periodontist. It is wise to become board certified through the Board of Periodontology as well to establish credibility and proficiency in the profession.

This is a lucrative career, but very challenging. There are educational requirements that must be met on a yearly basis to enhance your knowledge base and keep you familiar with new innovations in periodontology.

This career path can take up to eleven years educationally, but the rewards are great. Being able to take responsibility for a beautiful smile or great oral hygiene is well worth the effort. There will always be a need for periodontists, and entering the profession while it is still growing is a well-planned idea.

Dentistry Scholarships

ADA Foundation CBCF Louis Stokes Health Scholars Program CDA Foundation
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Dental Education Association (ADEA)
Academy of Laser Dentistry U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship Hispanic Dental Association


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