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DDS vs. DMD: A Dental Degree Breakdown

Posted on September 27th, 2021

San Luis Obispo dentist Michael Colleran DDS, discusses the difference between a DDS and DMD dental degree. Hint: It’s smaller than you might suspect!If you are looking for a dentist in San Luis Obispo, you may have picked up on the fact that there are two types of dental degrees – DDS and DMD. Perhaps you’ve noticed that there are far more of one than the other, or maybe they are split 50/50. 

Either way, you’re probably wondering what the difference is, and how this will affect your dental care. At Michael Colleran DDS, we love to spread the word about all things dental, so here are the facts, straight from Dr. Michael Colleran.

The Difference Between DDS & DMD

You have the right to know what training your health care professionals have received so that you can choose the best fit for your needs. Most folks know there are specialties in dental medicine, such as orthodontics (braces), periodontics (gums), and cosmetic dentistry, but what separates one dental degree from the other? The short answer: the difference is exactly one letter.

Both DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) and DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) indicate that an individual is a certified doctor of dental medicine. Although there are subtle differences in curricula within and between the two degrees, the American Dental Association considers them identical. Anyone with a DDS or DMD is qualified to practice general dentistry.

Why Are There DMDs and DDSs?

Your next question may be – why the distinction if they’re identical? Another short answer: Harvard. Before 1867, the DDS was the only dental degree available. Harvard tradition dictates their degrees have Latin names, so the Dentariae Medicinae Doctor (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DMD debuted when they opened a dental school that same year. Now you know – there is no difference between the DDS and the DMD dental degree, except that the dentist that holds a DMD received their dental degree from Harvard. 

Whether you are searching for a new dentist or your curiosity just got the best of you, we hope this article quenched your thirst for dental degree knowledge. If you have any questions or would like to vent about the silliness of DDS versus DMD degrees, please contact us at Michael Colleran DDS today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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About Dr. Colleran

Dr. Colleran is a nationally renowned dental author and lecturer and an expert on laser dentistry. He has spoken across the country on laser dentistry and had articles appear in several professional journals. He is also sought after by dental manufacturers as a consultant for product evaluation and research. Dr. Colleran is an instructor for the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, which teaches LANAP and other laser dental procedures to dentists from across the globe.