When you go to the dentist’s office, you will notice that your dentist has either a DDS or DMD degree next to his or her last name. Have you ever wondered what the difference was? Is one degree better than the other? There has always been some confusion about the name of the degree that is awarded to dentists. All dentists have one of two degrees that they are associated with. They will either have the abbreviations DDS or DMD next to their names; DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery while DMD stands for the Latin phrase “Dentariae Medicinae Doctor” which translates to Doctor of Dental Medicine. But what exactly is the difference between the two degrees? Should a patient choose a dentist based on his or her degree title?
So, what’s the difference?
According the American Dental Association (ADA), there is no difference between the two degrees. Dentists with either degree have graduated from an accredited dental school and are considered highly trained professionals in their fields. They have the same type of training and both fulfill the curriculum requirement as set by the ADA. It is up to individual dental schools to decide whether to offer a DDS or DMD degree.
Why is this the case?
History shows that in 1840 the world’s first dental school was established in Baltimore, Maryland. It was called Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. Since then, it has merged and become the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Their graduates were awarded a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. This is where “DDS” originated.
In 1867, Harvard University opened its dental school. It was the first dental school to be affiliated with a major university. Harvard granted their degrees in Latin. The translation of Doctor of Dental Surgery into Latin was “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris.” Harvard officials did not like the translation. They consulted with a Latin scholar and decided on “Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae” which means Doctor of Dental Medicine or abbreviated as DMD.
As time went on, more universities followed Harvard’s approach, while others continued awarding the DDS degree. Of the 58 dental schools in the United States and Puerto Rico, 36 give DDS degrees and 22 give DMDs. Despite the difference in names, the level of education and clinical training are the same.
What schooling and clinical training do dentists go through?
Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to graduate and become a general dentist. Upon completion of this training, dentists must pass both a rigorous national written exam and a state or regional clinical licensing exam in order to practice. In order to maintain their licenses, dentists must meet continuing education requirements for the remainder of their careers to ensure they stay up to date on the latest scientific and clinical developments. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist, such as an orthodontist, periodontist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Do you have any questions about the difference of DDS and DMD? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-655-5000 or request an appointment online.