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You may have noticed that dentists’ names are often followed by the acronyms DDS or DMD. These letters represent the dental degree the dentist earned after many years of education. Both degrees have the same curriculum and neither is better than the other, so you may wonder why there are two different ones.

DDS

A DDS degree stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. This degree was established in 1840, the same time the world’s first dental school (the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery) was founded by dentists Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris. The name of DDS actually holds roots in ancient medicine, when dentists were generally known to treat injuries with surgery.

DMD

A DMD degree can either stand for Doctor of Dental Medicine, Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry, or Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae. It was established when Harvard created the first dental school associated with a major university in 1867. Harvard only awards degrees in Latin, but they did not like how Doctor of Dental Surgery looked like when translated to Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris (CDD). Instead, they named the degree Dentariae Medicinae Doctorae (Doctor of Dental Medicine in English), which they felt reflected dentistry as a whole more accurately.