DMD or DDS - What’s the difference?

Dr. Fletcher graduated from Oregon Health & Science University School of Dentistry receiving a DMD degree. Some dental school graduates receive a DDS degree. They both mean the same thing. The DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery- in English) and DMD (“Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae” which means in Latin “Doctor of Dental Medicine”) are the same degrees. Dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. It’s up to each university to determine what degree is awarded, but both degrees must adhere to the same curriculum requirements.

History of the DMD and DDS degrees

Back in the 1840’s the world’s first dental school was established in Maryland. It was called the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery (which has since merged with the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.) Upon graduation, they were awarded the DDS degree, which stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery.

Twenty seven years later, Harvard University decided to create a dental school. It was the first dental school to be affiliated with a major university. Since Harvard likes to be unique, and only grant degrees in Latin, they considered calling their dental degree “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris,” or CDD. which means Doctor of Dental Surgery in Latin.

Harvard officials didn’t think that “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris” had quite the ring that they were going for, so they consulted a latin scholar who suggested that they tack the word Dentariae onto their Medicinae Doctorae degree (MD) for doctors. They came up with “Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae”, which means Doctor of Dental Medicine. They abbreviated this as DMD.

In 1900, only Harvard and the University of Oregon used the DMD degree. In 1989, 23 of the 66 dental schools in the United States awarded the DMD degree.

Today, there are 66 dental schools in the United States with approximately two thirds of them awarding the DDS degree and one third the DMD.

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