The plethora of abbreviations for degrees in the medical field can be confusing to patients who might not be familiar with the meanings of the different degrees. Such confusion is especially true when two abbreviations essentially stand for the same degree, as is the case with the dentistry degrees awarded for DDS, or Doctor of Dental Surgery, and DMD, or Doctor of Dental Medicine.
The Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree and the Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree – abbreviated as DDS and DMD – are essentially the same degrees, according to the American Dental Association, which calls the distinction "a matter of semantics" on its website. Either degree allows a person to become licensed as a general dentist. The dental school awarding the degree decides which credential they will give out to graduates.
DDS is most frequently used by schools to denote a degree in dentistry, according to the ADA, but there is no academic or professional difference between a DDS and a DMD.
To receive a DDS or DMD degree requires the same basic qualifications and education curriculum as is set forth by the American Dental Association. Usually, attaining a DDS or DMD degree requires at least three or more years of undergraduate work and an additional four years of dental school.
The state licensing boards of all 50 states will accept either the DDS or DMD degrees as a qualification for acquiring a license to practice dentistry in that state, according to the American Dental Association.
In order for a dentist to practice a specialty beyond general dentistry, such as periodontics, more postgraduate education is required. The additional training needed depends on the specialization.