A Career in Periodontics

The GDC currently recognises 13 various fields of dentistry with regards to their specialist register. You are not required to join a specialist list to practise a specialty, however, only dentists on these specialist lists have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title. In this series of articles you can find out more about each specialty from experts in their respective fields, with advice on the career pathway as well as sharing their experiences as a specialist.

Periodontics involves the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases and disorders (infections and inflammatory) of the gums and other structures around the teeth.

In the following article, Consultant Periodontist Professor Kevin Seymour, discusses how you can establish a career in this field.

Professor Kevin Seymour | BDS, MSc, PhD, DRD, MRD, FDS, MFGDP, FHEA

Director of Undergraduate Education

Programme Director – MSc Periodontology

University of Manchester

Currently Professor of Periodontology at The University of Manchester, programme director for the MSc in periodontology and director of undergraduate education. Qualified from Kings in 1981, 5 years as a GDP in the RAF following which I worked as a part-time GDP in Stevenage whilst doing the MSc in periodontology at Guys. Then part-time teaching at Guys and opening a practice limited (we couldn’t specialize then!) to periodontics in North London.

Appointed as a lecturer in conservative dentistry at The London (now QMUL) in 1991, then senior lecturer in cons followed by a return to perio as senior lecturer/honorary consultant, when I ran the MClinDent programme for a number of years. Have spent time at The London as head of the centre for DCPs, senior clinical tutor (responsible for student support and welfare etc.) amongst many other academic jobs! I moved to the capital city of football back in 2012 as MSc programme director and lead for postgraduate taught programmes before the senior appointment as UG director in early 2014.

A Career in Periodontics

Periodontics strictly refers to the treatment of diseases of the supporting structures of the teeth, whereas periodontology is the study of these tissues in their broadest sense and nowadays includes implantology and such diverse areas as immunology, microbiology, tissue engineering and pharmacology to name but a few!

As a specialty within restorative dentistry, periodontics can involve a whole variety of elements, ranging from patient treatment within the NHS or private sector, within practice or the hospital system. Some colleagues are academics like myself who can spend time involved in undergraduate and postgraduate education at universities, whilst others are heavily involved in research, so really a career can involve almost anything (and often does!).

Pros & cons of a career in Periodontics
  • Ability to change people’s lives
  • Great variety
  • Challenging
  • Multidisciplinary team working
  • Good job prospects
  • Scope for private practice
  • Don’t get immediate results
  • Heavily rely on patient effort

A hard question, I always found the subject fascinating as an undergraduate, when I saw treatments actually working, so that’s a good start!

I think the specialty requires patience and a philosophical attitude with a fine attention to detail. We spend a lot of time communicating with patients and motivating them in terms of life style change and often this doesn’t occur immediately, hence the patience!

A number of inspirational teachers and colleagues!

The late Barry Eley at Kings and in the RAF I was lucky enough to work with the service’s perio specialist Ken Eaton. After that it was natural that I went to do the part-time MSc in periodontology at Guys, where I think that the whole department inspired me back then in the late ‘80’s, they were great times! When I moved to The London I was fortunate to work with Francis Hughes, another giant in periodontology.

My appointment as a professor in Manchester back in 2012.

There are far too many to recall individuals, I think the most memorable are the ones where I learnt something rather than the spectacularly successful cases.

A typical week…

As in all areas of dentistry – great variety in what you can do on a daily basis and many colleagues combine clinical work in specialist practice and teaching. As for myself, my days are never the same, I spend time teaching postgraduates or undergraduates either on the clinic or in seminars and running and developing the various programmes for which I am responsible. In addition, I also treat patients both within the NHS Trust where we are based and in private practice.

Specialty training pathway

You are not required to join a specialist list to practise periodontics, however, only dentists registered on the GDC held specialist list have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title in the UK.

To be granted entry to the list an applicant must have been awarded a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST) as a result of completing a GDC approved training programme, with a dedicated national training number (NTN).

Entry Requirements

  • GDC registration
  • A minimum of two years post-graduate experience (General Professional Training). This may include DF1/VT, DF2/CT1, GPT/LDFT, i.e. at least 12 months experience of hospital dentistry and 12 months of foundation training in general practice
  • MFDS/MJDF/MFD

The above is the minimum typically expected from prospective applicants. However, it is strongly recommended to check the essential and desirable criteria listed in the person specification provided for specific specialty training posts (StR). An exemplar person specification can be found in the ‘Further Information’ section at the bottom of the page.

Training Pathway

Completion of a Periodontics training programme involving:

  1. Satisfactory completion of training period– 3 years full-time (4500 hours) or an agreed part-time equivalent period. The programme content will be approximately split as 60% Clinical, 25% academic and 15% research.
  2. Successful completion of the Speciality Membership Examination in Periodontics at a Royal Surgical College.

At present, consultant posts within NHS Trusts are usually available only to those who have completed a full 5 year training programme in Restorative Dentistry (of which periodontics is one of the so-called ‘mono’ specialties along with endodontics and prosthodontics.

There is also the possibility of joining the periodontics specialist list via restorative specialty training. Restorative training (5 years) not only entitles entry onto the restorative specialist list, but trainees are also eligible to join the specialist lists of periodontics (as well as endodontics and prosthodontics) providing they can also demonstrate that they meet the requirements for entry onto those lists. This may be through additional examination such as the MPerio.

For more info please read the GDC statement on this in the ‘Further Information’ section at the bottom of the page.

Career options after specialty training
  1. Specialist/Consultant in NHS/private/mixed practice
  2. Specialist/Consultant in Public Dental Service
  3. Specialist/Consultant in NHS hospital post
  4. Academic post (with honorary NHS specialist or consultant title)
  5. Research post (with honorary NHS specialist or consultant title)

There are many activities that can significantly enhance your CV and encourage your development as a well rounded individual such as, participating in journal clubs, delivering lectures and case presentations, research, audits and publications.

In terms of preparing for a career in periodontology, you will need to speak to your teachers and the Royal Surgical Colleges about the current regulations and guidance for trainees. Whist there is no standard ‘job description’ for the average periodontist, training programmes are regulated both in terms of clinical and academic input, so as I said, potential periodontists should keep abreast of developments in these areas.

Further Information

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