Periodontist Salary: Is it Worth the Student Debt? – Student Loan Planner

The average student debt for a periodontist is $153,000. However, the median salary of a periodontist is $123,000. Is it worth the debt?

The how much does a periodontist make an hour is a question that many people have been asking themselves. Some students are considering going into the field of dentistry because it is a great way to get out of debt quickly, but they do not know if it will be worth their time and money.

If you don’t know what a periodontist is, it’s a kind of dentist. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating severe or complicated bone, jaw, or gum disease, as well as implant placement. Periodontists may be referred to by dentists for difficult situations that are outside the scope of conventional dentistry.

Periodontists need more training and generally make more money than regular dentists since they are specialists. However, they all graduate with about the same amount of student debt.

We’ll look at earning possibilities, the cost of obtaining a degree, and other important variables that influence loan repayment plans to see whether it’s worth taking on debt to become a periodontist in 2021.

I’ll also go through some case studies on how to pay off dental school debt while doing periodontal residency. Let’s get started!

Student loan repayment may be affected by periodontist requirements.

Periodontists, like ordinary dentists, attend dental school. That means they’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree first, with good marks in science (particularly biology and chemistry) and math, before taking the Dental Admission Test. Most dental schools take four years to finish after you’ve been admitted.

General dentists may begin practicing as soon as they complete dental school. Periodontists, on the other hand, must complete an extra three years of residency following graduation. Periodontists get the additional abilities they need to handle with more complex diagnoses including destructive diseases, gum problems, and dental implants throughout those three years.

Obviously, resident wages are a small fraction of what full-fledged periodontists make. Student loan repayment plans may be thrown into disarray as a result of this. As a result, the best short-term repayment plan for periodontists may vary from the best long-term repayment strategy.

I’ll get to it in a minute.

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How much student loan debt do periodontists have?

Dentists graduate with greater debt than most other professions since dental school is one of the most costly graduate programs available.

A typical dentist will graduate with about $250,000 to $300,000 in student debt, with private school graduates adding roughly 50% more to that amount. We’ve conducted hundreds of consultations for dentists who owe an average of $381,000 in debt. When compared to other occupations, this is one of the highest averages we’ve seen.

Dental schools, on the other hand, continue to be in great demand due to the high earning potential of dentists and specialties such as periodontists. Plus, if periodontists decide to start their own practice, they will be able to earn much more money.

General dentists, on the other hand, may overestimate their earnings. Many people are paid much less than their average anticipated wage. Investing in further training during a periodontal residency, on the other hand, results in a better salary.


What is the typical pay for a periodontist?

The American Dental Association (ADA) released a research in 2017 that looked at pay trends and employment prospects for five distinct dental specialties: oral surgeons, endodontists, orthodontists, periodontists, and pediatric dentists. Unfortunately, periodontists were found to be the lowest-paid of the five specialities studied.

Despite this, pay survey data regularly shows that periodontists are paid more than ordinary dentists. The national average pay for dentists, according to ZipRecruiter job listings, is $166,403 per year. Meanwhile, the typical Chief Dental Officer earns $175,063 per year.

Periodontists earn an average base income of $247,541 according to the same source. That’s a 40 percent to 50 percent increase on a general dentist’s already high pay.

Unfortunately, when it comes to calculating your future earnings, averages aren’t usually the most useful. That’s because the amount of money a periodontist may earn is determined by a number of variables. Here are a few factors that may have the most effect on your periodontal salary.


The area in which you reside has a major effect on your periodontist pay. Consider which state you’d want to work in first. According to ZipRecruiter state pay estimates, the typical periodontist earns the highest income of $279,448 in Hawaii and the lowest salary of $193,093 in Mississippi.

Here are ten distinct places where typical wages are somewhat in between the two extremes:

  • $264,753 in North Dakota
  • $263,211 in Alaska
  • $261,132 in Nevada
  • $257,023 in South Dakota
  • $254,229 in Oregon
  • $250,548 in Maryland
  • $215,208 in Montana
  • $212,323 in Minnesota
  • $211,929 in Tennessee
  • North Carolina has a total of $201,858.

The quantity of periodontists in your city or town will have an effect on your earnings. We’ve discovered that periodontists in highly populated regions, like as New York and Los Angeles, earn less money because to more competitive marketplaces.

However, since they may be the only game in town, individuals who open up shop in remote regions may expect to earn a larger income. Less competition equals more business, and more business means more money. Plus, reduced house prices, rental rates, property taxes, fuel costs, and other factors may allow you to save even more money in these regions.

Level of expertise

The average pay for an entry-level periodontist, according to PayScale, is $154,171. A mid-career periodontist with 5-9 years of experience makes $182,192 on average per year, whereas an experienced periodontist (10-19 years of experience) gets $196,381.

Ownership of the practice

We’ve seldom dealt with a dentist who owns his or her own business and earns less than $300,000. The profit margins on owning practices are greater than the salary of an associate. So, even though they have the same schooling as their non-practice owning counterparts, periodontists who own a practice earn more money.

Listen to this excellent audio interview Travis did with Zachary Kingsberg, a practice-owning dentist, to learn more about what practice ownership involves. Despite the fact that he is a general dentist, it provides a fair idea of how things could be for periodontists.

Periodontists’ top two debt repayment methods

Periodontists, in our view, have two good choices for repaying their school loans that will save them the most money:

  1. Pay off your debts quickly, with the aim of becoming debt-free in ten years or less. If they could afford it, they could refinance student loans to get lower interest rates.
  2. Enroll in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), which adjusts payments depending on your income over the course of 20 to 25 years. After then, the loans are forgiven, and the forgiven amount is taxed.

With the first choice, a periodontist should put every additional money they can get their hands on towards their debt in order to get out of debt as soon as possible. The second alternative is to choose an income-driven repayment plan that will maintain payments as low as feasible, maximize pre-tax retirement funds to reduce AGI, save for the tax bomb, and maximize forgiveness.

Using an in-between repayment plan, such as (1) paying more while on income-driven repayment or (2) paying off the debt after refinancing for more than 10 years, may be a waste of thousands of dollars. Periodontists should retain that money in their wallets, not ours!

Which choice is the most suitable? It is dependent on the circumstances. While in residency, a somewhat different approach may be used. I’ll go over a few situations with you.

When should periodontists restructure their student loans?

Julia owes $350,000 in school loans at 6.8% interest and earns $250,000 as a periodontist. Her earnings are expected to increase at a constant rate of 3% each year. Should she go for the quick fix or opt for income-driven repayment?

Consider the following figures when comparing PAYE, a typical 10-year plan, and refinancing:


This is a clear refinancing case since, as compared to the other two alternatives, it would save Julia the most money.

PAYE would cost her approximately $240,000 more to repay her school loan and twice the time it would take her to be debt-free (20 years versus 10 years). On a $250,000 salary, she can comfortably afford the refi payments, which are $1,700 more per month than her original PAYE payment. Because of the long-term savings, it is worthwhile.

Because of the interest savings, refinancing is much superior than the traditional 10-year plan. Both will make her debt-free in ten years, but reducing her interest rate from 6.8% to 4.5 percent would save her almost $50,000 in total debt repayment costs and $401 per month in monthly payments!

When should periodontists consider income-driven repayment?

Andy works as a periodontist in Southern California. His annual income is $200,000, but he owes $450,000 in student loans from his undergraduate and dentistry school years. He has no plans to start his own practice, therefore his earnings should increase at a rate of 3% each year.

periodontist salary

Although refinancing seems to be the most cost-effective choice, it isn’t since the combination of his large payment and low income doesn’t leave much space for other financial objectives.

Let’s assume his monthly take-home income is $10,000. Over the following ten years, almost half of the money would go into his refinance payments. While living in pricey SoCal, this leaves him with little over $5,000 for normal monthly expenditures.

Student loan refinancing vs. PAYE

His PAYE payment would begin at $1,515 per month, leaving him with approximately $8,500 in take-home income. By maxing out his pre-tax retirement plan, preparing for the tax bomb ($614/month) with a backdoor Roth IRA contribution, and achieving other financial milestones along the road, he might save nearly $3,000 each month.

He’d have a $465,000 nest egg in ten years if his $3,000 a month was invested and grew at a rate of 5% per year. Even after paying the tax bomb, that amount would rise to $1,004,000 in 20 years. That doesn’t account for the fact that when his salary rises, he may be able to raise the amount he puts into savings.

Let’s suppose he refinances, putting all he has toward his debts and deferring savings for ten years. In ten years, he’d be debt-free. He may then invest the $4,664 over the following ten years (years 11-20) and end up with $724,000 in the end.

That’s not terrible, but it’s still $280,000 less than the PAYE plan, which invests the difference in payment. Andy’s net worth would be 38 percent greater if he were on the PAYE plan after 20 years ($1,004,000 with PAYE vs $724,000 refinancing)!

During residency, periodontists may save money on their school debts.

Let’s return to Julia. Keep in mind that she owes $350,000 in school loans at a 6.8% interest rate. Let’s pretend this is the diploma she received before starting her three-year residence.

Julia will receive $50,000 as a resident for three years, then $250,000 after those three years.

For her, refinancing is still the best long-term option, but paying $3,600 per month while earning $50,000 is a no-no. That would be almost all of her take-home income, if not all of it. Putting her debts in forbearance is also a bad idea since the interest would soar over the next two years.

Even if you don’t make payments that cover all of the interest, there is a method to prevent the debt from rising too quickly. The REPAYE interest subsidy comes into play.

The advantages of enrolling in the REPAYE plan while in residence

Julia’s debts would normally cost $23,800 per year ($350,000 x 6.8%), regardless of whether she is on PAYE or IBR. REPAYE, on the other hand, is unique. Half of any interest that isn’t paid by her monthly payment will be wiped away by the government.

Let’s suppose Julia waives the grace period and begins REPAYE between finishing dental school and beginning her periodontal residency. For the first year of residence, her REPAYE payments may be $0 per month. In comparison to entering into forbearance with a $0 payment, the interest subsidy will put her in a better situation.

The REPAYE interest subsidy takes away half of the $23,800 interest charge since her $0 payments do not cover any interest. With $0 monthly payments, her loan would accumulate $23,800 in interest on PAYE, IBR, or if she was in forbearance. However, the accumulated interest on REPAYE increases by $11,900, or half the amount.

periodontist salary

Using her tax returns as evidence of income will help reduce the cost of living in her new home. Her tax return for the year she begins her residency will only reflect $25,000 in income for half a year of residence, thus her monthly payments will be about $52. She’d then be eligible for a $11,600 subsidy.

After residency, what should periodontists do?

Julia’s payments would total approximately $1,500 after three years, and the government would have paid $35,000 in interest, which works out to nearly $1,000 per month! Her income would be high enough after residency that she could refinance her dentistry school debts and pay them off in ten years or fewer.

REPAYE would save her over $35,000 in interest and much more when it came time to repay her refinanced debts. REPAYE first, then refi, is a big money saver!

Is the income of a periodontist worth the school debt?

The answer is a resounding yes! Periodontists enjoy a good salary and a variety of employment possibilities. In an ideal world, reducing student debt would be the best choice, but that isn’t always possible.

It’s frightening to consider taking out $300,000 to $400,000 in student loans, but there’s an ideal repayment plan – whether you’re in Julia’s position (refinancing) or Andy’s one (student loan consolidation) (using the PAYE plan with aggressive savings on the side).

Despite the fact that finances would be tight during residency, periodontists earn $80,000 more per year than regular dentists. That implies recouping the income lost during the two years of residency takes less than three years. After then, it’s all gravy.

According to the podcast episode I referenced earlier, being a practice owner may make this even more appealing.

Periodontists may have a well-thought-out student debt strategy.

On a periodontist salary, you can discover a clear route to repaying your school debts. A route that will not only save them money during payback, but will also provide them with action steps and a clear course to follow.

Student Loan Planner® has completed over 5,800 student loan consultations for customers with a total debt of over $1.4 billion. In only one hour, we can assist you in determining the best course of action. We also provide email assistance following the consultation, where we answer questions and assist you in putting your strategy into action. Here’s where you can learn more about our consultation process.

There’s no need to seek a consult if your case is a fairly obvious refinancing example with no practice ownership in the near future (maybe because the refi payment might get in the way of the practice loan). However, I recommend using our cash back refinancing connections to see if you can lower your interest rate and obtain the best conditions for your circumstances.


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The how long does it take to become a periodontist is a question that many people ask themselves. There is no exact answer for this, but we can use the Student Loan Planner to get an estimate on how much debt you will be in and how much your salary will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth it to become a periodontist?

It is not worth it to become a periodontist because the average income for a periodontist is $152,000.

How much money does a periodontist make?

A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease affecting the gums and supporting structures of teeth. They are responsible for maintaining dental health through cleaning, scaling, polishing, root planing and other procedures.

Is endodontics worth the debt?

Endodontics is worth the debt if you are in need of root canal treatment.

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