Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is there a difference between a DMD and a DDS?

Over the years, I've been questioned many times on what the difference is between a DMD degree and a DDS degree. There is much confusion over this.

Some believe that a DMD degree is the better degree because it is a variation of the MD degree. Some believe that the DDS degree is better because, the " S" in DDS indicates that they may be more competent in surgery.

The only real diference in these two degrees is simply one different letter in a different order. That is the only difference. The training and credentialing process is exactly the same. Most have undergraduate degrees in the hard sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics. Once accepted into dental school, the first two years are mostly shared with medical students in a lecture setting. The third year of school is when the clinical training really ramps up. Dental students diverge from their medical counterparts at this stage. To graduate and get licensure, we all take the same National, Regional and State Boards (clinical and written), have the same requirements to maintain our continuing education, and are regulated by the same agencies.

Here is a little historical perspective:

  • Baltimore College of Dental Surgery was founded in 1840 and was the first dental college. It is now known as the University of Maryland. They awarded a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree.
  • It wasn't until 1867 when Harvard opened up a dental school when a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree was awarded. At the time, they felt that the DMD degree as a more accurate description of the profession.
  • We now have over 60 US dental schools. Approximately 2/3 of the schools offer the DDS degree; 1/3 offer the DMD degree.

The ADA (American Dental Association), is well aware of this mass confusion. Many discussions have been held. Some have proposed that we eliminate the DDS degree. Some have proposed that we eliminate the DMD degree. Some have proposed that we come up with an entirely new degree. There has not been any consensus or resolution up to this point.

So, in conclusion, the only difference is one letter. Everything else is exactly the same.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit


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