DDS vs DMD | What’s the Difference Between DDS & DMD?

DDS vs DMD | What’s the Difference Between DDS & DMD?

As Dentists, we often use clinical languages that sometime pose some challenge to our patients. Although it is not our intention to sound mysterious, but oftentimes, these languages or expressions that are common knowledge to us could be a bit confusing to our patient.

Also, some persons who want to make a career in dentistry may wish to get a better understanding of some of the clinical words we use. This is why I have written this article to help you understand whether there is a difference between DDS vs DMD.

Whether you are a curious patient who wants to understand DDS vs DMD, or you’re a students looking  to build a career in dentistry, this article is for you. What then is the difference between DMD and DDS? Is one better than the other? Keep reading to get this information and more.

DDS vs DMD: Is there any difference between a DDS and a DMD?

The answer is quite simple: there is no difference between DDS & DMD! DDS (which stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery) & DMD (which stands for Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) are typically the same degree. Whether a dentist holds a DMD or a DDS degree, they have received all of the same training. The only difference  between a DDS and DMD is that some universities choose to call their dental degree DDS while others choose DMD.


What’s the difference in training or accreditation between a DDS and DMD program?

Dentistry has only one accrediting body for all dental schools called the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Every dental school in the United States must follow CODA standards in both their academic and clinical training of students.

This means a graduate of a DDS program has the same knowledge and clinical skills as a graduate of a DMD program. Additionally, all dental students at DDS or DMD programs must pass the same National Dental Board exams. As the final authority on the matter, the ADA reported that:

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). Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to graduate and become a general dentist. State licensing boards accept either degree as equivalent, and both degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry. [ads]

So, for example, if Dr. Oliver Charles received his DMD from the University of People & Dr. Juliet Chukwueme earned her DDS from Harvard, both doctors received the same level of clinical training.

Other qualification other than DDS and DMD

You will sometimes even see more letters after some dentists’ names, such as FICOI or MAGD. These don’t represent university degrees, but actually indicate a level of additional training that a dentist has received beyond dental school. If you’re curious about what these letters stand for, ask your dentist! He or she spent lots of time & energy earning the designation & will be happy to share how their extra expertise helps him or her keep your smile healthy.

TIP #1: You will sometimes see the words BDS after some overseas dentists’ names. Dentists in places like Europe or India who hold BDS degrees are fully trained & qualified dentists in their countries. However, due to differences in certification requirements, foreign dentists with BDS degrees will need to also earn their DDS or DMD degrees in order to practice dentistry in the United States or Canada. [ads]

Is DDS vs. DMD in dentistry similar to MD vs. DO in medicine?

As someone exploring a healthcare profession, you might be aware of a similar situation in medicine. Just as dentists can earn either a DDS or a DMD, physicians have the option of pursuing either an MD or DO degree. Both degrees ultimately allow them to practice medicine, but there are substantial differences between the two in regards to admissions, training, and career paths.

That’s why trying to extend the MD vs. DO debate onto the discussion of DMD vs. DDS is meaningless. While there are significant differences between medicine’s two degrees, for all intents and purposes, dentistry has only one degree—it simply goes by two different names: DMD and DDS.

Why are there two different dental degrees if there is no difference between them?

The reason we have two different dental degrees in the United States can be traced back to 1867 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Harvard’s campus.

The first dental school in the world opened in 1840 as the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, which today is the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. This is considered the birthplace of the Doctor of Dental Surgery, or DDS degree. Several dental schools followed, and all granted the DDS degree.

However, in 1867, the Harvard Dental School (later renamed the Harvard School of Dental Medicine) was founded. As Harvard grants all degrees in Latin, they needed to find a suitable Latin name for their dental degree. The Latin translation of Doctor of Dental Surgery, Chirurgiae Dentium Doctoris, did not share the DDS acronym. After consulting a Latin scholar, Harvard authorities decided to modify the current medical degree, Medicinae Doctoris, resulting in Doctoris Medicinae Dentariae, or DMD. Today, this degree is often called a Doctor of Dental Medicine—the English translation from the original Latin (hence why it is not a DDM degree).

Since that time, all subsequent dental schools have had the option to choose whether to grant a DMD or DDS degree.

Having studied the preliminaries, let’s look at some conceptual definitions of terms:

What Is A DDS?

DDS is an acronym that stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery.

It is the terminal degree in the study of dentistry. Actually, every dentist in the US needs to complete this level of study to be licensed to practice.

A typical DDS degree gives a comprehensive knowledge in every area of dentistry. It also include learning about oral and facial structures.

After this degree, you can choose to go for a residency that lasts for about 1-3 years to be able to work with medical doctors and perform major dental surgeries.

What Does DMD Mean?

DMD is the short form for Doctor of Dental Medicine.

Before you can get this degree, the student must have completed his 3 or 4 years of undergraduate studies, and a 4-year dental school to graduate with a DMD.

Also, the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree program is designed to prepare students to practice dentistry with adequate knowledge and skills which the field requires.

In addition, the students get to learn biological sciences, strong clinical skills, and the role of the dentist as a health professional and leader.

DMD vs DDS: What Are The Similarities?

Nowadays, dentist students either graduate with a DMD or a DDS attached to their names.

While the titles may sound different, the American Dental Association (ADA) explains that they refer to the same degree.

Some universities award dental graduates with a DDS, while others award a DMD. Both degrees have the same curriculum requirements.

Basically, both degrees are the same in coursework and knowledge acquired.


DMD vs DDS: What are the Differences?

Basically, there’s not much difference between a dmd and a dds.

Here is what you should know.

The main difference between them is the name. Otherwise, DDS and DMD functionally mean the same thing.

Actually, the difference between a DDS and DMD dentist is the title their school chose for the degree program. The course work is exactly the same. Their training as well is the same. Both are equally qualified for the same job and both can take great care of your mouth.

So, if they both mean the same thing, why are there two names for the same degree?

The reason is documented by the Oregon Health and Science University (OSHU). In 1893, the Baltimore College of Medicine started granted the first Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees. A short time later, Harvard University started its own dental school.

Harvard then decided to rename the degree a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

This disagreement in naming is why there are two names for the same degree.

Since Harvard’s first use in 1867, many institutions have adopted the DMD degree as well. Currently, OSHU reports that more than one-third of American dental schools issue DMD degrees.

dmd vs dds salary: What Are The Salaries of a DDS/DMD Holders?


It is important we note that most dentists who have either a DDS or DMD degree are general dentists. Also, they are self-employed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 19% job growth for dentists in general practice for the 2018-2026 period. This job growth will be enhanced by the demand for increasingly complex dental services to an aging population.

The BLS reported 2019 median annual wages of $155,600 for general dentists.

Payscale says that the average salary for a DDS holder is $142,000 annually.

How to get a Dental Degree?

Badging a DDS vs DMD typically requires the same thing.

To get this dental degree, you need the following;

#1. 3 or more years of undergraduate education

#2. 4 years of dental school

#3. Pass both a national written exam and a state or regional clinical licensing exam

How Much Does it Cost to Get a DDS vs DMD?

Generally speaking, the cost of getting the DDS vs DMD is high.

According to Iowa University, the school estimates a $98,324 for international students.

Iowa residents and nonresidents pay an estimate of $78,996 and $103,216 respectively.

This annual fee decreases each year, dropping to $5,200 in the second year. The third-year pays $3,900 while the fourth year pays $1,325.

So, over four years, a dental student can expect to pay from $151,508 (in-state, public school) to $268,348 (private school) and above.

However, there actually offer scholarships and loans for students.

What are DDS and a DMD holders trained to do?

Doctors of Dental Surgery and Doctors of Dental Medicine are trained in many procedures. They perform different functions in the dental world.

They include the following dental procedures:

#1. Diagnosing oral diseases

#2. Treating oral diseases

#3. Promoting oral health

#4. Disease prevention

#5. X-ray and diagnostic testing and analysis

#6. Administering and monitoring anesthetics

#7. Filling cavities

#8. Performing oral surgery on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity

The DDS and DMD only make you a general dentist. To specialize, you need extra training. Some of the dental specialist courses that require post-graduate training includes an orthodontist, periodontist, or oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Read: Dental Hygienist vs Dental Assistant – What is the Difference Between Them?


What Are The Admission Requirements For DMD Programs?

Having established also that the curriculum is the same, we are taking a cue from the University of British Columbia, here is the admission requirement.

Although many schools have different requirements, this is the generally acceoted one frm ADA.

Typically, international students and students whose native language is not English who wish to enroll in a US-based DMD program often need to complete specific examinations to showcase their English language proficiency.

These include the following tests:

  • TOEFL. The minimum TOEFL score required is 580 paper-based or 93 internet-based. The original test score
  • IELTS. A minimum overall band score of 7.0 is required with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component

Supporting Documents For DMD Programs

The supporting documents which an intending student must submit with the application form include:

#1. Submit a personal statement detailing why you wish to pursue a career as a dentist.

#2. Official transcripts

#3. 2 Reference letters

#4. Grade Point Average of 70% or 2.8 on a 4.0 grading scale

#5. Undergraduate certificate

#6. Complete the required (prerequisite) courses

#7. DAT exam result

It is however necessary to know that these documents are specific to the stated school. Although most of them may be general to many schools, there may be other requirements for you. So, contact your intended school for their specific need.

Education After a DDS or DMD

Although most dentists are general dentists like we have already established. However, some choose to specialize in many areas of dentistry after earning a DDS or DMD degree. It can require as much as six years of additional education to become a specialist.

The ADA explains that there are nine dental specialties. They include:

#1. Dental public health

#2. Endodontics

#3. Oral and maxillofacial pathology

#4. Oral and maxillofacial radiology

#5. Pediatric dentistry

#6. Oral and maxillofacial surgery

#7. Prosthodontics

#8. Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics

#9. Periodontics


These are medical professionals, so their qualifications, whether a DDS or a DMD is not necessary.

What they do is to keep your teeth and gums healthy, so be sure to visit your dentist regularly. Twice a year is a good place to start, though your dentist may recommend a different frequency.

Which Schools Offer the best Dentistry Programs in the World?

According to QS World ranking, these schools made it to the top 10 best dental schools in the world.

If you really wish to attend one, then these schools should be considered above many others.

The schools that offer the best dentistry programs in the word include;

#1. King’s College London (KCL)

#2. Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA)

#3. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

#4. University of Hong Kong (HKU)

#5. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

#6. Harvard University

#7. University of Gothenburg

#8. Tokyo Medical and Dental University

#9. University of Bern

#10. Karolinska Institute

You may also like to see: Accelerated Dental Programs

FAQs On DMD vs DDS: Differences, Similarities, Degrees, Salaries

What Is DMD vs DDS?

DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery and DMD stands for Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry.

Is DMD better than DDS?

The answer is actually very simple: there is no difference!

They are exactly the same degree. Whether a dentist holds a DMD or a DDS degree, they have received the same training. The curriculum for learning is exactly the same.

What is difference between a DDS and a DMD?

They both mean the same thing. Also, it shows that the dentist graduated from an accredited dental school.

The DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) are the same degrees.

Dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education

Can a DDS perform oral surgery?

Generally, dentists have studied dentistry along with practical training, so they can perform some minor oral surgery.

However, their work typically involves dental care such as oral exams, professional teeth cleanings, fillings, crowns, sealants, root canals, and overall gum care

Who Can Enroll For a DDS Or DMD?

Anyone can enroll for a DMD vs DDS. But, typically you must have completed your undergraduate degree in dentistry to able to enroll and study. A DDS or DMD degree is gotten after attending a dental school.

How Long Does It Take To Complete A DDS vs DMD Program?

It takes about 4 years to complete.

This is because DMD and DDS programs are postgraduate studies which you get after attending a dental school.


So many people wish to attend a dental school but do not understand the type of degree that is better than the other.

Well, this post has simplified the requirements for both the DMD and DDS.

Go ahead and get your degree early on.

Best of luck!



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