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DDS Vs DMD: What Is The Difference?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications


DDS and DMD are the acronyms of the degrees dentists earn after finishing dental school. DDS means Doctor of Dental Surgery, and DMD can mean either Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine. While the names are different, the American Dental Association (ADA) explains that they represent the same education. Some universities may grant dental graduates with a DDS, and others grant a DMD, but both degrees have the same requirements.

According to the ADA, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery established the first Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees in 1840. When Harvard University started its dental school in 1867, their degrees were called Dentariae Medicinae Doctorate (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) because Harvard uses Latin names for their degrees. Even though these degrees are based on the same educational requirements, they still have different names.

What Is the Difference Between a DDS and a DMD?

Today, many universities award a DMD degree. Dentists with either a DDS or a DMD are educated to practice general dentistry. All dentists receive a rigorous education. First, dental schools typically require a four-year undergraduate education. Afterward, graduates go to dental school for another four years of classroom training, clinical training, and dental laboratory training.

Dental students spend the first two years of dental school studying biomedical sciences courses like anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, and pharmacology. The last two years are focused on clinical and laboratory training.

After graduating from dental school, dentists must pass a national written examination called the National Board Dental Examination, followed by a regional clinical board examination. Dentists must also pass a jurisprudence examination about state laws before being given a license to practice dentistry in that state.

With such extensive education and examination requirements, you can be certain that any dentist with a DDS or DMD degree is qualified to treat you.

Education After a DDS or DMD

Most dentists stick with practicing general dentistry. However, some choose to specialize in a particular area of dentistry after earning their degree. Training programs range from two to six years, depending upon the specialty area. There are several dental specialties, including endodontics, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral surgery, and pediatric dentistry. The ADA can help you find a dentist with a specialty that fits you best.

Dentists receive a rigorous education and have to pass several exams to be able to practice. Whether they have a DDS or DMD after their name, you should choose a dentist based on their skills, types of services provided, communication, and professionalism.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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