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What is the Difference Between DDS and DMD?

If you are interested in becoming a dentist, there are two different titles you will see in practice. Some dentists have DDS after their name and some have DMD. These titles will be relevant when it comes to which dental school you attend, but that is about the only distinction between the two.

What exactly is the difference between DDS and DMD? Do they indicate different qualifications or educational backgrounds? How do you know which is best?

In short, a DDS and a DMD are the same degrees. A dentist with DDS at the end of their name has the same education as one with DMD.

Different Titles, Same Meaning

As strange as it may seem, a DDS and a DMD are the same thing. They also mean that the dentist you’re using has successfully completed a rigorous curriculum and is considered a highly-trained professional.

What Is a DDS?

DDS stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery.” You may assume based on the name that this title is specific to oral surgery; however, it qualifies a dentist to perform procedures like tooth extractions, fillings, root canals, implants, and more.

This degree is offered more widely than DMD, with approximately two-thirds of dental schools in the United States offering DDS degrees.

What is a DMD?

A DMD stands for Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry, but can also be referred to as a Doctor of Dental Medicine.

We have Harvard University to thank for the distinction in titles. When opening their dental school in 1867, the administration decided to continue their tradition of offering their degrees with Latin translations. This meant that their dental graduates would receive a degree in Dentariae Medicinae Doctoris or DMD.

Education Requirements

Both titles indicate the dentist in question is qualified to practice dentistry per the American Dental Association and the Commission on Dental Accreditation’s curriculum and training requirements.

All dentists are required to complete an accredited, four-year undergraduate degree in a science-related field like biology, physiology, or organic chemistry. Then, they have to take the Dental Admissions Test before enrolling in dental school.

Depending on the dental school, they will either have a DDS or DMD program (more likely a DDS). All Dental schools are accredited by the ADA and last for four years, regardless of the name of the program, DDS or DMD. During this time, students undergo clinical experience and classroom training before taking their licensing exams. These exams are administered on a state-to-state basis and involve a written and clinical exam from the National Board Dental Examination.

When completed, they have officially earned their DDS or DMD, depending on their degree program. In order to keep their license and continue practicing as a DDS or DMD, they are required to complete regular continuing education throughout their careers.

Further training is required for individuals who want to pursue specialist careers like orthodontia or maxillofacial surgery. Although the DDS degree has the word surgery in its name, you will not receive specific oral surgery education unless continuing with an oral surgery residency post dental school.

The Takeaway

When it comes to making the choice between a DMD vs. a DDS dentist, the good news is both mean the same thing. A dentist with a DDS degree has the exact same qualifications and educational training as a DMD. Both are highly-trained professionals equipped to handle everything from diagnosis and cosmetic restoration to root canals.