As dentists we know we sometimes speak a slightly different, more clinical, language than our patients. We try not to be mysterious, but sometimes what’s common knowledge to us could be confusing to our patients. One common thing that patients want to know is the meaning of the different letters you see after our names: either DDS or DMD. So what’s the difference? Is one better than the other?
The answer is actually very simple: there is no difference! DDS (which stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (which stands for Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) are exactly the same degrees. Whether a dentist holds a DMD or a DDS degree, they have received all of the same training. The only difference is that some universities choose to call their dental degree DDS and some choose DMD.
So, for example, if Dr. John Smith received his DMD from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Jane Doe earned here DDS from UCLA, both doctors received the same level of clinical training.
You will sometimes see even 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 and energy earning the designation and will be happy to share how their extra expertise helps him or her keep your smile healthy.
Bonus info: 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 and 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.
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