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Periodontist Assistant: Salary, Career and Education Information

Working as a periodontist assistant requires little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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A periodontist assistant is a specialized dental assistant who helps dental professionals work on bones, gums and connective tissues around the teeth. These specialized assistants learn through on-the-job training and can obtain voluntary certification from the Dental Assisting National Board. They can expect to earn around $35,000 a year.

Essential Information

Periodontists are dentists who specialize in working on the bones, gums, and soft connective tissues that surround and support teeth. A periodontist assistant is a specialized dental assistant who helps the periodontist perform surgical, clerical, and other tasks in a dental office.

Although no formal education is required by law to work as a dental assistant, completion of a training program might provide an advantage in securing employment. Certification is voluntary for those who have earned an award and possess a certain amount of professional experience.

Required Education None mandatory; on-the-job training provided with employment
Certificate, diploma, or associate's degree in dental assisting might be preferred by employers
Other Requirements Voluntary through the Dental Assisting National Board; available to those with formal training and professional experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% for all dental assistants*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $35,980 for all dental assistants*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for all dental assistants was $35,980 as of May 2015. Job growth was expected to occur at an excellent rate of 18% from 2014-2024. This growth will be due to the retirement of older dentists with fewer assistants, who will be replaced by newly graduated dentists who will feel the need to hire a larger number of assistants. A preventative attitude toward oral care among younger people also is expected to create more demand for dentists and thus assistants.

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Career Information

Periodontist assistants perform preparatory tasks, such as sterilizing tools or surgical equipment. They also help prepare patients by getting them settled into the dentist's chair, asking questions, and recording notes in the patients' records. During the surgery or examination, assistants generally hand the periodontist tools and keep everything organized while taking down any necessary notes.

After procedures, periodontist assistants might give tips on proper oral hygiene methods or specific care instructions. These professionals generally have very little direct contact with patients, but they might do some small tasks, such as removing sutures or putting dental dams in place.

Education Options

In general, no formal education is required of dental assistants before entry-level employment. As of 2011, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) had approved 285 dental assistant training programs for those interested in attaining formal education. These programs take around one year to complete. Some community colleges also offer two-year associate's degree programs for dental assistants.

Regardless of level of education, most dental assistants receive extensive on-the-job training. Newly hired assistants must learn to use the technology and tools in a periodontist's office, as well as preferred methods for handling patients and their records.

Certification Information

The Dental Assisting National Board offers the voluntary Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential to those who've graduated from a CODA-approved program and completed two years of full-time or four years of part-time job experience.

Some states have standards in place requiring that individuals either hold a CDA credential or pass the Radiation Health and Safety examination before they can perform advanced duties, such as those related to radiology. Such additional education is nearly the only means of advancing in a career as any type of dental assistant.

Periodontist assistants are specialized dental assistants and thus have many of the same training requirements and protocols as their more generalized counterparts. While formal training and certification are often voluntary, they can improve career prospects.

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