What Sets DDS Apart from DMD? Unraveling the Dental Degree Distinction

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What Sets DDS Apart from DMD? Unraveling the Dental Degree Distinction:Are you curious about the difference between a DDS and a DMD? Well, you’re not alone! Many people find themselves scratching their heads when it comes to understanding these dental degrees. But fear not, because in this blog post, we’re going to break it down for you. Whether you’re considering a career in dentistry or simply want to impress your friends with some dental knowledge, we’ve got you covered. So, grab your toothbrush and get ready to dive into the world of DDS and DMD – it’s going to be a fascinating journey!

Understanding the Degrees: DDS vs. DMD

When it comes to dental professions, there are two primary doctorate degrees that one might encounter: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). Despite their different nomenclatures, these two degrees represent the same level of education and professional capabilities in the field of dentistry.

The Origins of DDS and DMD

The distinction between DDS and DMD can be traced back to the history of dental education. It’s a matter of historical designation rather than a difference in curriculum or training. The first dental school in the world, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, opened in 1840, awarding the DDS degree. As other dental schools emerged, some chose to award a different degree to differentiate themselves, which is how the DMD degree came into existence.

Universities determine which degree is awarded based on historical and institutional preferences. However, this choice is mostly symbolic because both degrees use the same curriculum requirements and there is no practical difference between DDS and DMD.

Curriculum and Training

Both DDS and DMD dentists receive the same training, which includes extensive education and clinical practice. The curriculum typically covers subjects like human anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, and periodontology, as well as hands-on practice in dental procedures. To earn either degree, a candidate must complete four years of postgraduate study, which includes both coursework and practical experience.

Specialization in Dentistry

Dentists who have earned a DDS or DMD degree can pursue additional post-graduate training to specialize in fields such as periodontics, orthodontics, endodontics, or oral surgery. This additional training can take several years and involves more focused study and clinical experience in the chosen specialty.

DDS and DMD in the Dental Industry

Prevalence of DDS and DMD Degrees

While both DDS and DMD degrees are prevalent, there is a slight difference in their distribution among dental schools. Approximately one-third of dental schools in the United States offer the DMD degree, while the remaining two-thirds confer the DDS degree. This distribution is more of a reflection of institutional tradition rather than an indication of the superiority or popularity of one degree over the other.

The Highest Degree in Dentistry

The highest degree one can earn in the field of dentistry is a doctorate degree, which could be either DDS or DMD. Both are considered terminal degrees in the field, signifying the highest level of professional education in dentistry.

The Educational Path to Becoming a Dentist

Best Undergraduate Majors for Dentistry

When preparing for dental school, choosing the right undergraduate major is crucial. Degrees in health or biomedical sciences are commonly pursued by aspiring dentists. Majors in natural sciences, such as biology or chemistry, are considered some of the easiest pathways since they cover many prerequisites required by dental schools. These majors provide a strong foundation in the sciences that are essential for the dental profession.

Comparing DDS/DMD to Other Doctorates

A common question that arises is whether a DDS or DMD is “higher” than a PhD. The answer is no; they are different types of doctoral degrees. A PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy and represents a deep scholarly study in a particular field, which often includes original research. In contrast, DDS and DMD degrees are professional doctorates focused on practical skills and clinical proficiency in dentistry.

Dental Specialties and Public Health

Dental Public Health

Dentistry is not only about treating individual patients but also involves a public health perspective. Dental Public Health is a specialty that focuses on preventing and controlling dental diseases and promoting dental health through organized community efforts. A dentist with a DDS or DMD degree may choose to specialize in this area to work on broader public health initiatives.

Advanced Specialties in Dentistry

For those looking to advance further in their dental careers, postgraduate programs offer specialized training in various areas of dentistry. Whether it’s designing beautiful smiles as an orthodontist, saving teeth through endodontic procedures, or performing complex surgeries as an oral surgeon, there are numerous paths a dentist with a DDS or DMD can pursue for professional growth and to provide advanced care to patients.


The distinction between DDS and DMD is one that often perplexes patients and aspiring dental students alike. However, the key takeaway is that both signify the same level of education and qualification in the dental field. While they may differ in name and historical context, their significance in the eyes of the patient should be considered equal. Both are prestigious degrees that denote a rigorous educational journey and a commitment to the oral health and well-being of individuals and communities.

For anyone considering a career in dentistry or seeking dental care, it’s important to understand that whether your dentist holds a DDS or DMD degree, they have undergone extensive training to provide high-quality dental care. The true measure of a dentist’s expertise lies in their experience, commitment to continuing education, and the quality of care they provide to their patients.

FAQ & Common Questions about the Difference Between DD and DDS

Q: Which is more common, DDS or DMD?

A: Roughly one-third of dental schools offer DMD programs, while the other two-thirds offer DDS degrees.

Q: What is the highest degree of dental doctor?

A: The highest degree you can earn in the field of dentistry is a doctorate in dentistry – either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD).

Q: What is the easiest major to become a dentist?

A: Due to the nature of dentistry, you may benefit the most by choosing a natural science major, such as biology or chemistry. Choosing one of these majors may also make entrance into dental school easier, because completion of these majors includes many of the courses that dental schools require you to have taken.

Q: Is DDS higher than a PhD?

A: No, they are all doctoral level degrees, but different.

Q: What type of dentist makes the most money?

A: The highest-paying dental specialty is oral and maxillofacial surgery, with dentists practicing in this specialty earning an average of $336,000. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat injuries and head, neck, face, and jaw diseases.

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