The word “periodontology” comes from two Greek words, peri which means "around" and odous which means "tooth." And, in fact, that is what periodontists do: treat the gums and other tissue and underlying bones that support the teeth. In addition, periodontists place and repair dental implants. According to the National Institutes of Health, periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults so the career is both rewarding and challenging.

Most periodontal education programs last 35 months though program length may vary. There are currently 57 programs in the United States.