In the United States, dentists are either awarded a DMD or DDS degree at the end of their training. DMD stands for Doctor of Medicine In Dentistry while DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. DDS was the original dental degree established by the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. This was the only degree for dentists until Harvard decided they wanted to award the DMD degree instead. Today approximately half of dental schools award the DMD degree while the other half award a DDS.
While they sound like they would have different training requirements, in actuality the training between the two is identical. The requirements for dental education are set by the American Dental Association and each school must follow these requirements. Both DMD and DDS dentists can perform the same procedures and are equally well qualified to perform dentistry. This is different than in medicine where physicians are awarded either an MD or DO degree. MD and DO programs have different treatment philosophies.
I personally think it is just confusing having both DMD and DDS degrees without any distinction between the two. Hopefully one day they’ll pick one over the other and be done with it… That’s if they can convince all the old, cranky dentists who run dental schools to agree on it.
There are a lot of different ways to go about picking a dentist (see our guide on finding a dentist), but fortunately this is one less thing you have to worry about.