Careers in Periodontics

As a dental discipline encompassing cutting-edge biology, medicine, team-patient care and surgical intervention, periodontics offers many exciting educational and career opportunities.

AAP Dental Student Interest Group (DSIG)

DSIG gives predoctoral dental students who have an interest in periodontics online access to all AAP member-only content, including the Journal of Periodontology and a multitude of research and practice info.

AAP Lunch 'N Learn Program for Dental Students

Lunch ‘n Learn programs provide an overview of the periodontics specialty to predoctoral dental students. The program is coordinated by Academy staff upon request of a dental student. Presentations are provided on a volunteer basis by local Academy members. Programs are scheduled over the lunch hour or the dinner hour to accommodate the institution or volunteer speaker.

Accredited Training in Periodontics

Advanced training programs in periodontics are currently offered by 60 institutions in the United States and Canada. These institutions range from university settings to military and hospital facilities, but commonly feature three years of skill, knowledge and proficiency development for diagnosing and treating periodontal diseases.

Clinical training includes advanced cases that require interactions with other clinical disciplines or challenging patients that require appropriate medical management. In addition, trainees are expected to become proficient in implementing preventive strategies and therapeutic interventions including the indications, treatment planning, contraindications and limitations of procedures. Residents become thoroughly familiar with advanced surgical techniques such as regenerative surgery, periodontal plastic surgery, and dental implant placement.

The clinical certificate in periodontics may be coupled with masters or Ph.D. degree training at many of the program institutions. Hence, postdoctoral students are exposed to relevant biomedical and population sciences including oral microbiology, immunology, connective and mineralized tissue biology and epidemiology. Many programs also offer opportunities to pursue basic science or clinical research concurrent with clinical and didactic components.

Externships in periodontics are available to dental students at many accredited institutions across the U.S. and Canada. A periodontal externship will provide insight into the world of periodontics and will assist students in determining if they would like to pursue a career in periodontology. If you'd like to learn more about what a postdoctoral periodontal program entails, consider applying for a periodontal externship.

Career Options in Periodontics

Careers in periodontics are diverse and include clinical practice, academics, administration and research. The over 4,000 active U.S. periodontists represent a multitude of practice settings (e.g., solo practices, group practices, hospitals, dental schools, and community clinics).

One principal reward of clinical practice is the continuity of coordinating treatment for a core of returning maintenance patients. Other rewards include a close collaboration with other health providers and specialty board certification.

To become board-certified, periodontists must take comprehensive oral and written examinations covering all phases of periodontal disease and its treatment as well as presenting detailed reports on a broad range of actual treatment personally provided by the periodontist.

Many individuals trained as periodontists serve in leadership positions at dental schools, industry, and state, national and international agencies. The discipline also offers exciting research opportunities such as identifying pathogenic mechanisms in periodontal disease, testing emerging therapies, participating in clinical trials and assessing the interrelationships between periodontal and systemic diseases.

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