Industry content

DMD vs DDS: What’s the Difference?

Date Posted: 09.22.22

Why do some dentists have DDS after their names while some have DMD? As a dental practice manager, you may be wondering whether this title will have an impact on your hiring, salaries, or planning promotions.

So, what does DDS stand for? And what does DMD stand for? More importantly, when do you use one over the other? In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between DMD vs DDS and what it means for those running the show.

Before we begin contrasting DMD vs DDS, we first need to know what each stand for.

What is a DDS?

DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery, which is the proper term for a dentist. Their job is to maintain a person’s oral health and treat any disorders, if any. This mostly involves the teeth and gums, mouth, and tongue.

What is a DMD?

DMD stands for “Doctoris Medicinae Dentariae,” a Latin term which translates to Doctor of Dental Medicine. And their job description is exactly the same as a DDS doctor.

In other words, there’s no difference between them at all!

Yep, you read that right. A DMD dentist is the same as a DDS dentist for all intents and purposes. They offer the same basic services and have undergone a similar course of study.  The American Dental Association itself has clarified the matter. According to them:

“There is no difference between the two degrees; dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education… Both degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).”

The path to a DDS or DMD certification is identical as well. It all starts with a four-year undergraduate study for a pre-medical degree. After that, they attend dentistry school and start their formal training. They must also complete a residency program as part of their course requirement.

Once they’ve graduated, they are awarded either a DDS or DMD degree, depending on the school. Afterward, they must pass a licensure exam to practice their profession legally. As you can see, the only meaningful thing that DDS or DMD can tell you is the school which the person graduated from.

Thus, using these titles as your basis for hiring, promotions, or deciding salaries is inaccurate. Rather, you should look into the expertise behind the title. For instance, you should look at the residency program a dentist has completed while in school. Did they take specialization courses, such as oral surgery? Do they have orthodontic certification? How reputable is the school they graduated from?

Looking at these things tells you a lot more about the skills of a dentist, which is a better gauge of whether to hire them or what salary they should receive. For instance, a dentist with orthodontic skills will typically command nearly twice the salary of a general dentist.

Why Are There Two Different Degrees?

Now that we know that a DDS and DMD doctor are the same thing, that begs the question: why are there two different titles in the first place?

In short, it all comes down to history. The first DDS degree was offered in 1840 by the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, known back then as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. More dental schools have popped up since then, all offering DDS degrees. This naming convention lasted until 1967 when the Harvard School of Dental Medicine called their dental degrees DMD.

Why DMD? At the time, Harvard had the tradition of naming degrees in Latin. The direct translation of DDS was “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris”, or CDD. Harvard didn’t particularly favor the name, so they changed it to  “Doctoris Medicinae Dentariae.” Thus, the DMD degree was born.

Today, there are a fair number of schools offering DMD and DDS. And that’s the reason you see a good mix of dentists with either designation. One thing to point out: the notion that DMD degrees are more prestigious – because Harvard offers them – is not true. For instance, fellow Ivy League school Columbia opted for DDS degrees.

Here are some examples of excellent schools that offer DDS degrees:
  • Ohio State University
  • Tufts University
  • University of California – Los Angeles
  • University of California – San Francisco
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Louisiana State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • New York University
  • University of Buffalo
  • UT Health San Antonio
And here are some excellent institutions that offer DMD degrees:
  • Midwestern University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Western University of Health Sciences
  • Boston University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Oregon Health and Sciences University
  • Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine
  • Temple University

Manage Your Practice with Cloud 9

The bottom line is that the difference between DMD and DDS is purely superficial. The American Dental Association recognizes both as titles that indicate a dentist’s capacity to practice dentistry. What they do have in common, though, is that they indicate that someone has the necessary skills and expertise to deliver proper dental care.

However, DMD and DDS doctors can only do that if they have a system that supports them. Ensure your dentists are doing their best work with Cloud 9 Software. Our platform helps you streamline your clinic operations by handling electronic claims, payments, patient communications, and more.

Request a demo today to see how our specialty dental practice management software can make your clinic more efficient.