What is a periodontist?
This is a dentist who specializes in degeneration and gum disease that is related to the surrounding or supporting structures and tissues of the teeth along with the maintenance of their function and health. They have completed an additional 2-3 years to get this specialty certification in the recognition and treatment of gum diseases. It is common for gum disease to develop, especially as you get older so the general practice dentist will usually refer a patient to a periodontist if they notice their patient has gum disease. They are referred to as periodontist because they treat periodontal disease which is when the formation of bacterial plaque will infect and start to cause gum deterioration, gums that are swollen or red, loose teeth, gums that are receding, begin to have spaces between your teeth, and have frequent bleeding of your gums. Approximately 75% of tooth loss is due to this disease.
Job description of a periodontist
As mentioned a periodontist specializes in gum disease. One of the jobs of a periodontist is to treat periodontal disease and it can be done in different ways. If the patient comes to the periodontist with the early stages of this disease it can be treated with non-surgical ways. They would treat it with root planing and dental scaling which involves removing the plaque from the roots of the patient’s teeth and then smoothing the roots of the tooth to help prevent additional bacteria from growing. If it is more advanced then it would have to be removed surgically, which the periodontist is trained in, by crown lengthening that can help restructure the tooth so that it can support a crown better, gum contouring which can help to reshape the gums and teeth that are affected by gum disease, or bone grafting to replace the lost bone because of having a bacterial infection that is severe.
They can also perform dental implants which is the new standard to use when a tooth is lost. When the periodontist performs this procedure the replacement tooth is attached surgically to the jaw and then is topped with a crown. This procedure will last longer and give the patient more comfort that using false teeth or a bridge but it is more expensive. With this procedure the periodontist will not have to use adhesives because the tooth is permanently fixed in the patient’s mouth. A periodontist will have the knowledge how to handle medical equipment like dental drills, respiration-support equipment, x-ray machine, and suction pumps.
As a periodontist you will be able to diagnosis and treat your patients and should have excellent communication skills which will be necessary when you are working with staff and patients. You will need to be able to make your patients feel at ease and comfortable when they come to your office to have a procedure done.
How to become a periodontist?
Becoming a periodontist can take as long as 11 years to complete the training and schooling to receive your Ph.D. in periodontics. While you are attending high school you should take as many science classes as possible, especially chemistry and biology along with math and physics. After graduation from high school you will need to attend college for 4 years getting a bachelor’s degree in pre-dental science and take required classes such as biology, organic and general chemistry, English, and physics.
In order to be admitted to dental school you need to take and pass with a high grade the Dental Admission Test (DAT), have letters of recommendation, good GPA both in high school and college, and an interview with the admission board before gaining admission to dental school. Once you are in dental school you will spend the first 2 years in laboratory and classroom studies in subjects like anesthesia, anatomy, radiology, periodontology, and physiology and the last 2 years doing clinical under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Before accepting admission or applying to a dental school make sure that it is accredited by the American Dental Association. There are 56 accredited dentistry schools in the United States. When you graduate from dental school you will either have a degree in Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). In order to get your certification as a periodontist you will have to complete 3 more years of study to get you Ph.D. In these 3 years you will perform periodontics tasks in clinics under the supervision of a licensed dentist or periodontist.
In order to practice as a periodontist you will need a license showing that you have either a DMD or DDS and another license showing that you are licensed to be a practicing periodontist. To become a periodontist you have to take the National Board Examination that requires passing a practical and written exam. If you pass this test you may not have to take the state exams. There may also be additional licensing requirements for your state so make sure what the exact requirements are for your state. You should also become board certified by passing oral, practical, and written exams that are administered by the American Board of Periodontology.
In order to maintain your licenses you will have to continue your education on a yearly basis. This is beneficial because technology is always changing along with science advancements that take place that will affect the field of periodontology. There are many classes, workshops, seminars, and more that can attend in order to continue your education. If you are going to have a private practice you should take some business and marketing classes as your electives.
Some of the accredited dental schools that you can apply to are:
- Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health
- Boston University, Goldman School of Dental Medicine
- Harvard School of Dental Medicine
- Indiana University of School of Dentistry
- Louisiana State University School of Dentistry
There are some periodontist who will join a specialty group, join an established dental clinic, or work in a hospital but most will have their own private practice. They will normally work Monday thru Friday but the amount of hours varies according to the patients they are seeing that week and the procedures that must be done. Most will work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job but can work more hours, especially if they have a procedure that takes longer to do because of unforeseen problems or they have an emergency patient that cannot wait a week or so to see the periodontist.
The patients that are seen by a periodontist are usually referred to them by the patient’s general practice dentist either because the dentist noticed that they are developing gum disease or the patient has noticed problems with their gums. Before the periodontist sees the patient the dentist will send them the patient’s medical history, what the problem is, and any x-rays that they may have taken. When the patient arrives at the office they will fill out paperwork before they can see the periodontist. Back in the exam room the dental hygienist will get the patient ready, take any x-rays that the periodontist needs, and has his tools ready for him to examine and treat the patient.
When the periodontist comes into the exam room they will ask the patient how they are feeling and what symptoms they have been having or noticed. Then the periodontist will do his exam, diagnose any problems, and devise a treatment plan. During the exam the periodontist will check the patient’s gums checking for periodontal disease and/or gingivitis. Both can cause pain and discomfort to the patient and can lead to teeth loss. The periodontist will examine the patient’s gums for any signs of infection, lesions, and decay.
If the patient has gum disease the tissues and the bone that holds the teeth are destroyed and form pockets. In order to treat it the periodontist will clear these pockets of any bacteria and then pull the tissue back into place. They will also give the patient advice and informational papers on dental care and how to take care of these problems so they do not come back. The periodontist is also responsible for making entries into the patient’s charts as to what the problem was that brought them to the periodontist office, what tests or x-rays were done, and the treatment plan. They will also note if a follow-up visit is needed with them or with their regular dentist.
Pros and cons of being a Periodontist
If you want to begin right away to get your specialization in becoming a Periodontist, you should take into thought the pros and cons that you could find in this career. You also need to think about whether it’s going to align with your character or not. Not many want to get involved in this field because it is not a lucrative specialty like other specialties that you can find in the field of Dentistry.
Instead, you can make your through by working with patients that are in need for bone grafting, implants, even tissue grafting. If you like this part, then welcome aboard. The pros in this field can over-weigh the cons. One of them is the fact that you are easily accepted to a periodontist residency. You can also do very well with an already formed clientele that can comprise patients that will allow you to have 10 or 15 periodontist surgeries and the same figures when it comes to implants per month.
The job opportunities are many, and the professionals in this field are very searched since not many people are dedicated to this job you will have plenty of job opportunities where to choose from. Your hours of work are compact and you can earn good money for a work that is not that overwhelming like in other fields.
What is difficult for a Periodontist, on the other hand, is the fact that it is very hard to start your own practice from zero. The success of a treatment or an implant will depend on the hygiene of a patient and other factors. The age category patients in this field have already encompassed 50 years, and their health is not always the best starting point.
While you are in the periodontist residency, you’ll have to bring the necessity of hard work into attention. Beside this fact, this job can be rewarding especially if everything that you are doing improves the lives of your patients in a good way.
Periodontist job growth
In this field, the job opportunities for periodontists are many and plenty. These professionals are very searched since many of them do not stick to this job and here comes the availability of job opportunities.
The job growth in the number of demand for licensed and trained periodontists is estimated to rise by 15% or even a little bit more. Furthermore, according to the BLS, the employment of these professionals for the next ten years or so is estimated to grow by 20% percent. That is faster than the norm for other occupations. This is due to the baby boomers that with age will need more complicated works, and also since research has established a connection that periodontal diseases are linked with other chronic inflammatory condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other.
That is why the job outlook for Periodontists is very good because they play a vital role in the health field, and they are able to improve a lot their patient’s lives.
Salary of a Periodontist
On average the yearly starting salary for a periodontist is $63,920 but can be more or less. It all depends on the geographical location and whether they are working in a specialty group practice or private clinic.
The average yearly salary for periodontist who work in these working environments is:
- $102,000-$192,000 working in the academic and research field
- $113,000-$213,000 working in the field of dental prosthetic services
- $104,000-$198,000 working in a hospital
- $106,000-$201,000 working in well established dental clinics
- $306,000 having your own private practice
In order to have a high salary you should establish your practice or join an established dental clinic or specialty practice in a large city because that is where a majority of the people live now and not in rural areas. According to research that has been done, where you will find the most periodontist is in Philadelphia. Some of the other top cities include Boston, San Diego, Houston, Miami, Tuscon, Atlanta, and New York.
The salary for a periodontist will increase as you gain more experience but as you hit 20 years of practicing the average salary starts to noticeably decrease. The average age of a periodontist is 42 years of age and in the United States 46% are women and 54% are men.
In addition there is also the benefit package that a periodontist gets when working with an established dental clinic or group practice of specialty dentists which can include paid vacation days, paid sick days, paid personal days, health and life insurance that may cover the family or just the periodontist, 401K, social security, retirement, vision and dental care, long and short disability, and malpractice insurance. There is also profit sharing and bonuses that could be included in the benefit package. If you have your own private practice you will be the one that is responsible for the benefit package for your employees.
Salary of a Periodontist in 2015
In the US, a Periodontist salary can range from $103,010 and $230,010 per year. The shift in a salary can be caused by many factors that influence the economic flux such as the type of employment, his or her experience in the field. Experience, if you have it, will turn you into a valuable professional for the employers and for the cases that patients confront with, the number of demands and the geographical location of your working place.
For the year 2015 the salary of a Periodontist is mainly influenced by the same factors that will decide your salary. Influence also comes according to the fact that the place in which one can work can be a metropolitan area or not. If you have enough experience and training behind, then your experience will help you to use it wisely and improve many patients’ lifestyles.
With the average salaries ranging from $88,438 and $292,776 per year, these professionals will receive a yearly bonus that reaches about $48,937 per year. The bonus takes their salaries up to amounts between $99,563 and $302,014 per year. Since this job addresses to those patients in need for a Periodontists the number of demanding increases due to the number of the age population that increased over the last years.
Periodontist Salary in 2016
In the United States, for the year 2016, the periodontist salary is influenced by several major factors such as the year of experience in this field, the working site, geographical location, type of facility in which you found a job, and let’s not forget the skill levels.
For instance, those that have their own business – own practice – will earn more making up to $306,510 per year or even higher, while those who practice their career in academic and research centers can expect at an income in 2016 that usually is comprised between $100,300 per year and up to $190,230 per year. The incomes will still continue to vary according to the private or public facility.
You can also see a clear difference in the earnings of those professionals that are practicing their profession in urban areas and those who choose to go for a career in the rural areas. Those working in an urban area have the upper advantage or earning a higher income than those periodontists who work in a rural area.
Another fact is that the salaries for periodontists are classified as being among the highest salaries in the health field. The national average salary for jobs in this profession was estimated at $237,010 per year based on more than 230 sources. To get there and have all the benefits and a high salary will require in the first place a lot of hard work and struggle present in the educational years.
The salaries throughout the year 2016 also depend on each state or city. Many periodontists can be found in Philadelphia, and other top cities that can be added are Boston, Miami, Atlanta, New York, and a few other. The cost of living and the living expenses are other factors that usually contribute to the economic market.
The incomes of these professionals usually increase when you start gaining more working experience but a few after 20 years of practice, the salaries will start noticeable to decrease. Working with a dental clinic or with a group practice of specialty dentists you can also get the benefits package that usually it includes paid vacation days, social security, 401 K, malpractice insurance, health, and life insurance and many others.
Periodontist salary in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
- Australia—the average yearly periodontist salary is AU$97,607
- UK—the average periodontist salary yearly is 27,500 but if you are a senior periodontist with 10-15 years of work experience their average yearly periodontist salary would be 50,000-70,000.
- Canada—the average yearly salary of a periodontist is CAD$2K-CAD$3K.
Conclusion on periodontist salary
When looking at the average beginning salary for a periodontist which is approximately 64,000 a year it can make you wonder if you should even begin the long road to become a periodontist and just work in a factory, open your own business, work in an established business, or work toward another degree that has a better starting salary. Considering within a few years you can be making over $100,000 a year. In addition this is a field in which you get help people with gum problems and can help give them a beautiful smile. The benefit package can add to the actual salary you will be making. It is also a job that is not as stressful as working in a factory and you work in clean, air conditioned environment. With 4 years or less experience a periodontist can expect an average yearly salary that ranges from $93,000-$148,000, 5-9 years of experience $120,000-$296,000, and with 20 years or more of experience $149,000-$245,000.
When including the benefit package the salary of a periodontist is right up there with some of the highest paid salary in the health profession. Just remember that to get to the higher salaries you need to gain experience, work in an urban area, and should work for an established dental clinic instead of working in a private practice. In addition, working in a private practice you will also have expenses such as salaries for your employees, benefits, rent, utilities, and more that takes away from your salary.
- First Published Date: 17 June, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 29 June, 2016