If you’ve been looking for a new dentist in the Greater Phoenix area, you may have noticed that some dentists have the letters “DDS” after their names while others have the letters “DMD.” You may not be sure which is the more official or more educated dentist, or even if it makes a difference at all. If you’re concerned, don’t be. They both mean the same thing.

In both cases, the dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. The requirements for receiving the designation of DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry) are exactly the same. The university that your dentist attended will typically determine which designation they receive, but both degrees have the same curriculum requirements.

In general, your dentist must have attended three or more years of undergraduate education plus an additional four years of dental school in order to practice dentistry. After training, dentists must also pass a national written exam and a state or regional licensing exam. Your DDS or DMD must also continually meet continuing education requirements throughout their careers in order to stay up to date on the latest developments in the field. if they are to move on to a specialized area of dentistry, such as orthodontics or oral and maxillofacial surgery, they are required to take additional post-graduate training.

In the past, all dentists were given the DDS degree. When Harvard first opened their dental college in 1867, they kept the tradition of awarding their degrees with latin names, and the abbreviation “DDS” didn’t fit. DMD was their abbreviation for Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae. Since then, other schools have copied the “DMD” designation. In some cases, dentists can decide which degree he or she would like.

According to the ADA, “There is no difference between the two degrees; dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. State licensing boards accept either degree as equivalent, and both degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry.”