Finding the right dentist is an important part of making sure your dental health is where it needs to be, year after year. During the search, you may have noticed that some dentists have a DMD title, and others have a DDS title. If you’re like most, you’re probably wondering what the difference is and whether or not it should impact your selection.

To help ease your mind, in this article, we’re going to clear up the confusion between these two degrees and explore the interesting history between them. To start, let’s first look at what they stand for and how they’re obtained.

Solving the DDS and DMD Confusion

Because they have different abbreviations and titles, many patients assume that each degree falls under a different specialty. While DDS stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery”, DMD stands for “Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry”. To get either, dentists must go through three or more years of undergraduate college, four years of dental school, and then pass both a written national exam and a state or regional licensing exam.

As it turns out, the American Dental Association says that there is no difference between the two degrees. Each simply means the doctor graduated from an accredited dental school program and are trained professionals in the field of dentistry. Whether a doctor holds a DDS degree or a DMD degree, they each have to fulfill the same curriculum requirements and exams before they can practice dentistry.

The only determining factor between which degree a dentist receives is the school they attend. Each university that offers an accredited dental program has the freedom to select which degree they would like to award graduating students.

History Behind the Two Degrees

To get to the beginning of this confusing dilemma, we have to go all the way back to 1876. Originally, the DDS was the only degree awarded to dentists in the United States. All of this was well and fine until Harvard decided to introduce a dental school program in 1876. To stay true to their tradition of offering degree titles that stem from their Latin phrase counterparts, Harvard came to the conclusion that the translation of DDS, resulting in CDD (which stands for “Chirurgiae Dentium Doctoris” in Latin), didn’t have the kind of prestigious ring they were after.

After much deliberation, Harvard decided that “Dentariae Medicinae Doctoris” (DMD) would be the new title of their dental degree. Unaware of the effects their decision would have on the dental community from that point on, it wasn’t long before other schools began adopting the DMD degree over the traditional DDS degree. As it stands today, currently one third of all dental schools are offering the DMD degree.

Understanding the considerable amount of confusion this creates for patients, the ADA has been unable to find a solution that doesn’t involve the creation of a universal degree used by all schools offering an accredited dental program. To accomplish this, they would need to get all schools to agree to the elimination of both the DDS and DMD degrees, which is an unlikely occurrence due to the depth of school pride.

Should it Impact Your Decision?

Now that you know all dentists undergo the same level of education and training regardless of which degree they have, ultimately, their title should not impact your decision when picking a new dentist. At Inland Family Dentistry, we actually have both DDS and DMD doctors with more than 80 years of combined experience!

What matters most when selecting a new dentist is finding someone you’re comfortable with. The doctor-patient relationship is something we pride ourselves on at Inland Family Dentistry, striving to create positive experiences that take the stress out of office visits and inspire regular checkups for keeping your dental health spectacular.

From kids that are just beginning their dental journey to adults that want to meet their oral health goals, we take the time to get to know each and every one of our patients. To accomplish this, we take the approach of listening first so we can fully understand needs, desires, and concerns about your dental health.