DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery

DDS Degree In order to practice dentistry, an individual must go through the appropriate learning and training. Dentists who legally practice have a degree from an accredited college or university, and that degree basically states that the individual met the requirements of the college or university that he or she attended to be awarded with the opportunity to legally practice dentistry. This is why when patients visit dentists, they might see the dentists name followed by the term “DDS.” However, DDS means more than simply the fact that the individual is a dentist.

What Is a DDS?
DDS is the acronym for Doctor of Dental Surgery. This term indicates the specific degree that the dentist received upon completion of his or her studies at an accredited educational institution. The term DDS identifies a dentist as a general dentist. In order to obtain the DDS title, dentists must undergo a rigorous educational program that includes research in the sciences, most specifically the sciences pertaining to the anatomy of the human mouth. It also indicates that the individual has completed hands-on training in a dental training facility and that he or she aptly demonstrated learned mastership of the skills that the individual studied in the classroom.

What Do DDS Dentists Do?
DDS dentists are qualified to perform a wide range of general dental tasks. Some of the most common tasks include administering yearly dental checkups and professional dental cleaning as well as removing tooth decay and filling cavities. They area also qualified to review dental X-rays, teach patients about proper oral hygiene and screen patients for oral cancer and gingivitis. Dentists with a DDS can also repair teeth that have become cracked or chipped, and they can even place bridges, dentures and other dental prosthetics. The vast amount of services that dentists with a DDS can provide are numerous and include everything from preventative and restorative dental services to cosmetic dental services.

What Is the Difference Between a DDS and DMD?
DDS Versus DMD Some people wonder why some dentists are referred to as DDS dentists and others are referred to as DMD dentists. According to the American Dental Association, there really is no difference between the term degrees. The only difference is the technical name of the degree that was awarded to the dentist upon completion of his or her studies. Whereas DDS stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery,” DMD stands for “Doctor of Dental Medicine.” The type of degree that the dentist receives depends upon the college or university that he or she attended. Whereas some educational institutions choose to award DDS’s, others choose to award DMD’s, so really the only difference between the two is perhaps an indication of the educational institution that the dentist attended.

Obtaining a DDS
In order to obtain a DDS, the individual must generally attend an undergraduate program, and then he or she can gain admission into a 4-year pre-doctoral program in dentistry. In addition to completing the program, the candidate must also pass the National Board Dental examinations that have been set forth by the American Dental Association. To top it all off, they must also pass state licensure exams in order to practice in their states. Furthermore, in order to keep their licenses, dentists must regularly undergo continuing education in order to ensure that they stay up-to-date on all the latest developments, technologies and procedures in their fields of study. Continuing education can be done in the form of taking additional dental classes and attending professional dental seminars. In order for dentists to become more specialized types of dentists, such as orthodontics, periodontists, oral or maxillofacial surgeons and so on, they must undergo even more specialized training to gain special certifications that allow them to practice in those specialized areas. If a DDS dentist has a patient who requires specialized services that he or she isn’t certified to perform, then it’s not uncommon for the dentist to refer the patient to a colleague who is certified and specializes in that area.


American Dental Association. “General Dentistry” Retrieved on May 16, 2016, from

Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Dentists.” Retrieved on May 16, 2016, from

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