The perodontist hopeful has to decide ahead of time to buckle down in school for the long haul. The path to being a periodontist is a long, arduous one.
First, the periodontist must finish high school with four years of higher level science and math courses, as well as Latin, business, and sociology courses. He needs a GPA of 3.5 at least and a high SAT score.
Next, he will pursue a bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts college with a good reputation for getting students into graduate school. If he is smart, he will attend a smaller institution so he can get more personalized attention and have an easier time getting his reference letters when it is time.
Grades are Extremely Important
His major is immaterial, but his transcripts are not. He must have a 3.5 minimum in all science and math courses. He needs to have taken inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and calculus at a minimum.
Many periodontist hopefuls will also take business, sociology, sculpting and English courses in order to be well-rounded and to prepare themselves both for the DAT (Dental Admission Test) and their future professional life.
The Dental Admissions Test (DAT)
The DAT exam is quite difficult. Preparation courses would be a help. The test has rigorous reading sections, perceptual sections, and sections testing scientific knowledge.
Next the periodontist attends dental school. This is another four-year endeavor, which culminates in a National Board Dental Exam (NBDE) Part I and II.
Now the periodontist hopeful is ready to take the last step in his educational preparation. He will pursue a periodontal residency.
There are less than 70 program in periodontics in the United States.
Many of them say that although board scores are important, clear, defined interest in the specialty and extracurricular activities play a bigger role in a candidate gaining entry into the program than anything else. If you want an edge over other candidates, arrange an externship at the institution you are interested in before applying. Another edge can be gained by getting as many clinical observation hours as possible.
Finding a Job
The periodontist completes a three-year residency, at the end of which, he is prepared to either go to work in an office with another dentist or periodontist—or other specialist—or open his own practice.
The other option would be working for a corporation or hospital. According to Stony Brook University Medical Center, the average periodontist salary is roughly $269,770 a year.
Of course, don’t forget the cost of all the education it took to get there!
It’s Not Easy – But Worth It
With the average student loan debt of the dental school graduate holding steady at $200,000 dollars and the cost of a single year residency for the periodontist at the University of Pennsylvania at $100,000, the educational path of this field is not cheap.
If he graduates and goes to work for someone else, his salary will be below the average, but there will be perks involved, such as paid days off, 401K, insurance and even bonuses.
Additionally, the average salary includes those with years of experience and is not representative of the first-year periodontist’s earnings.