You’ve probably noticed that your family dentist has DDS or DMD after their name. But what do those initials mean? And is there a difference between the two? The short answer is not really. Both titles indicate that your dentist is a highly trained professional, well-equipped to meet your routine dental needs and treat problems when they arise.
Both the DDS and DMD titles mean that your dentist has graduated from an accredited dental school. Just like doctors in medical school, all dentists spend four years in dental school after earning an undergraduate degree. Dental students spend two years taking medical science courses, including biochemistry and pathology, and two years focused on clinical and laboratory practice. Dentists must also pass a national written exam and a state licensing exam before they can practice.
DDS means Doctor of Dental Surgery, while DMD means Doctor of Dental Medicine (from the Latin Dentariae Medicinae Doctor). Each university decides which degree it awards. However, the American Dental Association confirms that both degrees have the same curriculum requirements set by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. According to the ADA, the DDS degree originated at the world’s first dental school, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, in 1840. Harvard Dental School launched the first DMD program in 1867. Now roughly one-third of dental schools offer DMD programs, while the other two-thirds offer DDS degrees.
Dentists who earn a DDS or DMD degree can get additional post-graduate training to become a periodontist, orthodontist, endodontist, or oral surgeon.
What Credentials Should I Look for In A Dentist?
When choosing a family dentist, a DDS or DMD degree and state licensure are the credentials to look for. Licensed dentists are qualified to perform routine care and many procedures, both surgical and non-surgical. Dentists diagnose and treat conditions affecting the teeth, oral cavity, and jaw. And equally important, they put a strong focus on prevention and oral wellness. Helping patients maintain healthy teeth and gums is an essential part of the profession. Your family dentist is skilled at:
- Cosmetic and restorative dentistry.
- Technologically advanced general dentistry.
- Pediatric dentistry.
Can A Dentist Perform Oral Surgery?
With a DDS or DMD degree, your family dentist is qualified to perform both surgical and non-surgical procedures. General and family dentists routinely perform surgeries including:
- Tooth Extractions
- Root Canal Therapy
- Dental Implants
However, if you have a complex case, your family dentist may refer you to a specialist. You may need to see a specialist for more involved root canals, impacted teeth, wisdom teeth and other more complicated extractions and severe cases of gum disease. Your family dentist will often refer you to a specialist for any procedure requiring IV sedation or general anesthesia. Specialists include:
- An endodontist is a dentist with a focus on the pulp of the tooth. Your family dentist may refer you to an endodontist for complex extractions and some root canal treatments.
- A periodontist specializes in the prevention and treatment of gum disease. A family dentist can manage many patients’ gum health needs. However, patients with severe periodontal disease may need to see a specialist.
- An oral-and-maxillofacial surgeon specializes in injuries to the face and jaw, impacted teeth, jaw-joint problems, and some dental implant procedures.
If you have pain, infection, or other concerns, your family dentist is the best place to start. They can diagnose your condition and make a referral if necessary.
Your Family Dentist: A Dental Degree and Much More
At Greenhill Family Dental Care, our dentists have earned degrees from some of the most prestigious dental schools in the nation. Like most general dentists, when not caring for patients, they regularly dedicate time to continuing education and staying up-to-date with the latest dental technology. Degrees and professional licenses are essential, and patients should never hesitate to ask about their provider’s credentials. Our providers’ ongoing commitment to patients’ well-being and oral health is just as important as their dental degrees. Our caring staff, years of experience, and commitment to serving patients is where we truly make our mark.