It’s important to do your research when looking for the right dentist. Office location, areas of expertise, and convenient hours are all important factors. However, what about the letters after a dentist’s name? Is there a difference between DDS and DMD? Is one better than the other? The answer may surprise. So let’s take a closer look.
Dental School and Degree Options
Not everyone can be a dentist. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Typically, it takes eight years to earn a dental degree – four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and four years in dental school.
Just as doctors have the option to earn one of two degrees – an MD (Doctorate in Medicine) or DO (Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine) – to practice medicine, dentists also can receive one of two degrees – a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) – to satisfy their dental degree requirements.
Although they may sound different, surprisingly, a DDS and DMD are equivalent. They are the exact same degree, just different names. This is because dentistry has only one accrediting body for all dental schools called the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). As a result, all dental schools are required to follow CODA standards for academic and clinical training. And, upon earning either a DDS or DMD, all students must pass the same National Dental Board exam to earn their license to practice.
The Reason Behind Two Degrees
So, if the degrees DDS and DMD are the same, why have two? The answer is actually quite simple, history.
The first dental school, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, was founded in 1840. Today, it is known as the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. This was the start of the Doctor of Dental Surgery or DDS degree. For 27 years, dental schools across the country followed suit and granted DDS degrees.
However, in 1967 the Harvard Dental School, which was later renamed the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, was founded. It was here that the DMD, Doctor of Dental Medicine, degree was created.
Harvard, at the time, granted all degrees in Latin, which meant Doctor of Dental Surgery would be translated to “Chirurgae Dentium Doctoris” or CDD. This obviously didn’t match the DDS acronym, and members of Harvard didn’t particularly care for CDD, so they altered the current medical degree Medicinae Doctoris to Doctoris Medicinae Dentariae or DMD.
Since the creation of the second dental degree, schools have had the option to grant either DDS or DMD degrees.
Terminology, Not Prestige
One might think that one degree is more prestigious than the other, especially with DMD being from Harvard. However, several highly prestigious and reputable schools offer both degrees. For example, UCLA and Columbia offer DDS, whereas UPenn Dental School offers DMD degrees.
When searching for a dentist, it would prove more beneficial to go by the reputation of the school they attended rather than the degree after their name. But there are several other factors that are important to keep in mind when selecting a dentist.
Forget the Letters After the Name; look for These When Choosing A Dentist
Now that you know the letters after your dentist’s name don’t make them any more qualified than the dentist down the street with the other letters, what should you look for when selecting your dentist?
Areas of Expertise
You want a dentist that is highly experienced in their field. Similar to medicine, where doctors can specialize in a particular area of medicine, dentists can elect to complete a specialty residency program or earn several additional hours in continuing education after dental school in a specialized field, such as oral surgery, implants, or orthodontics. Technology is constantly changing, so it’s good to find a dentist who makes continuing education a priority.
Look to see what services they offer. For example, dentists may offer cosmetic services, family services, restorative services, and emergency dental care. You want to select someone that offers a wide range of dental services so you don’t have to go to multiple dentists where you will collect multiple bills and juggle appointments.
One of the best ways to evaluate a dentist is by reading their reviews. By reading real stories from real patients, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of who a dentist is and how they practice. Look for common themes throughout reviews. Have an open mind, as a dissatisfied patient is more apt to leave a review than a happy patient. However, if you see common elements amongst several reviews that don’t shine a good light on the dentist, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
Receive 5-Star Care at VIPcare Dental
Don’t let the degree after a dentist’s name fool you as it comes down to terminology, not quality. DDS and DMD may not give you much to go on when selecting a dentist, but there’s plenty of other criteria you can take into consideration.
If you reside in either the Tampa or Ocala area, schedule an appointment at VIPcare Dental, and rest assured that you will always get quality and professional care.
Toothaches are no joke. And we’re not just saying that because of the pain they can inflict. We’re saying it because toothaches can be life-threatening. That’s right; you can actually die from a toothache. That’s a scary thought.
If left untreated, a tooth infection can spread to the rest of your body and cause major complications. An infection can enter your bloodstream and even make its way to your brain. As soon as you notice signs of an infection or tooth abscess, you should make an appointment with your dentist.
Tooth infections can be treated in a few different ways. Treatments may include a root canal, tooth extraction, or an antibiotic prescription, dependent on the individual situation. However, even if you seek treatment, knowing the symptoms and warning signs that the tooth infection is spreading is essential.
Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for that may suggest your tooth infection is spreading to your body.
When An Infection Goes From Bad to Worse
A tooth infection may be mild to start. Little to no pain. No symptoms. But it can quickly take a turn for the worse. Symptoms can develop and become severe. Signs you may have a tooth infection include toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold, bad breath, a pocket of pus on or near the gum line, and sensitivity to chewing or biting.
The longer you wait to have the infection addressed by your dentist, the more at risk you’re putting yourself. So, if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
When you develop a fever, whether related to your teeth or not, it’s a response to your body trying to fight off the infection. When your body temperature gets too high, your body becomes a hostile environment for bacteria. However, when your body temperature remains high, it isn’t healthy for your body.
At the start of your tooth infection, you may experience a slight fever, but a fever that shows no signs of going away is a major warning sign that your infection is spreading to your body.
2. Feeling Unwell and Fatigued
Once your tooth infection begins to worsen, you may start experiencing symptoms similar to a cold or flu. Along with a nagging toothache, you will have chills and sweats along with a headache. In addition, pain may travel to your jaw and ear.
If you know you have a tooth infection and you begin just to feel lousy, and like you’re coming down with something, you should see your dentist right away. Feeling unwell or just flat-out tired is an early red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.
This may sound a bit unusual, but you often become dehydrated when your body has an infection. This is because the infection uses all your water, leaving your body in need. When this occurs, you may notice you do not have to urinate as frequently, and when you do, your urine is darker than usual. Other signs of dehydration include confusion, stomach pain, loss of energy.
4. Increased Heart Rate and Heavy Breathing
A very important symptom not to turn a blind eye to is if you begin to notice your heart rate increasing. If your heart begins to race and you feel as if you can’t get enough air, this can quickly turn into an emergency. An increased heart rate and difficulty breathing are both signs of sepsis.
Sepsis is a life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when an infection has entered the bloodstream. It’s your body’s extreme response to fighting off the infection in which it causes inflammation throughout the body. This can lead to a multitude of side effects, including organ failure.
Do not wait to see your dentist if these symptoms arise; contact medical help immediately.
5. Swelling and Increased Pain
Another common symptom that a tooth infection may be spreading to your body is if your face and other parts of your body begin to swell. Minimal swelling is normal for a tooth abscess; however, if it becomes severe enough where you start to have severe pain or difficulty swallowing, you need to seek medical attention.
Swelling can make it difficult to open and close your mouth, which may also hinder your breathing.
Get Treatment and Practice Prevention
If you’re suffering from a tooth infection, don’t wait to seek treatment. You should always contact your dentist at the first sign of a tooth infection or abscess. While you wait to see your dentist, you can treat discomfort with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Also, you should keep the infected tooth and area around it clean. Rinse with warm salt water to flush bacteria. Avoid chewing on that side if possible. Watch out for symptoms that your tooth infection is spreading.
Once you have been treated and your tooth infection is a thing of the past, take preventative measures to prevent another one from developing. Follow good oral hygiene that includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using a mouth rinse. Stay up to date with your routine cleanings. The best way to keep your smile healthy and happy is through prevention. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today!