You may or may not have noticed the initials after your dentists name on that placard on the wall. Typically you will see DDS or DMD. So, what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? In this article we will discuss what the difference is between a DMD and a DDS and tell you a little about what goes into obtaining those fancy titles should you covet the idea of getting one for yourself. Let’s talk about dental degrees!
DMD vs. DDS –What’s in a name?
The DMD title is actually a Latin acronym. It’s short for “Dentariae Medicinae Doctor” meaning simply “Doctor of Dental Medicine”. DDS, by contrast, is an English acronym which is short for “Doctor of Dental Surgery”. So, what’s the difference? Well, there actually is none. Some dental schools offer a DDS and others offer a DMD and the skill sets are the same and only the title it different. How this came to pass is that in 1867 Harvard decided that they would offer training in dentistry and they had a tradition at the time of offering degrees with fancy Latin names. ‘Doctor of Dental Surgery’ translated out as “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris” but it was felt that the CCD acronym was not impressive-sounding enough. Thus Harvard altered the acronym by changing up the Latin phrase and the DMD title was born. If we move the clock forward, a little over a third of all dental schools have copied Harvard’s decision for a modified title and so depending on which school you graduate from as a dentist you will be either a DDS or a DMD. So, do you want ‘surgeon’ in your title or some fancy Latin? If it makes a difference then be sure to check and see what the school you have selected offers.
Beyond the first degree
Getting beyond the first degree is tough enough but if you are willing to put in the time and effort then you can further expand upon that original degree. After we tell you what goes into getting the initial degree we think that you will have just a little more respect for your dentist. Let’s start with dental school pre-requisites. In order to enter dental school you will need to have at least a Bachelors degree. It does not matter what major that you have selected although if you haven’t begun getting that degree yet then you might want to consider a science major in order to help yourself to get ahead before you enter dental school. Dental school takes about 4 years so if you add that to the time that it takes you to get your Bachelors
“You are looking at a large swathe of school time.”
then you are looking at a large swathe of school time. If you decide that you wish to specialize then you are also looking at an additional 2 – 6 years college time. It’s not easy, either, as much of your time in the latter portions of your education will be working supervised with live patients. The next time you visit the dentist’s and you are worried that they might be inept in some fashion then ease your thoughts. This person has not only book learning but live experience and whatever procedure they are going to do for you they have probably done over a hundred or more times.
How much does dental school cost?
Aside from the huge investment of your time, dental school is also quite expensive. On average you are looking at $250,000 for a dental education and possibly as high as $500,000. A lot of this is going to depend on where you are getting your training. You may have noticed that many dentists have amazing hours, being open during the day and often late in the evening. While a part of that is the fact that dental emergencies don’t care what time it is and your dentist wants to be there for you, another part is that dentists need to pay off that school debt. While dentistry certainly is a lucrative profession if you are taking on a good number of patients the schooling is certainly not free and this is one of the reasons why you’ll see a lot of younger dentists working later hours. It’s practical for them and good for you, so it’s a win-win, but you should understand that it’s also part of the price should you be considering a dental career for yourself.
What kind of salary do dentists make, anyways?
Now, you are probably wondering why, if the salary is so great, that dentists end up working all those extra hours to catch-up. Dental salary is actually quite lucrative but student loans (for any field as we all know) can add up quickly on you if you aren’t careful. So, what do dentists make yearly? A lot of it is going to depend on your location and whether you are working for a large clinic or a private clinic for yourself but on average a general practitioner makes around $145,000 per year, whereas a specialist, such as an Orthodontist, might make around $185,000 per year. This is good money but if you are going for a private practice then there is going to be a certain amount of investment involved in that, of course, and if you factor it in with paying off your education then those long hours start to make a lot of sense.
Today’s topic has been the difference between a DDS and a DMD and as you can see, there truly is none. Both have received essentially the same training and have earned an enormous amount of live experience before they have done their first cleaning or tooth repair as a DMD or DDS. Now that you know what goes into it, feel free to pursue that path if it calls to you but at the very least we hope that the next time you visit your dentist you will treat them respectfully. They’ve earned it.