DMD vs DDS Salary

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

A dentist doing a dental procedure on his patient

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Understanding the differences in salary between DMD and DDS is an arduous task. This issue puzzled me for quite some time when deciding on a specialization for my graduate degree that I should pursue, but after extensive research, I got an answer.

If you, too, are interested in learning about the differences and similarities in DMD vs DDS salary, keep reading as I share what I discovered.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

DMD vs DDS Salary General Overview

The dentistry profession is projected to experience 6% growth from 2022 to 2032, a rate slightly exceeding the average growth rate for all occupations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A dental chair, lighting, and some dentist tools

However, when considering a career in dentistry, people frequently have to decide between becoming a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). The curriculum and training for both programs are nearly identical; hence, the primary distinction is in the names. 

Let’s have an overview of these professions.

Overview of DMD

The Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) is a professional degree awarded to individuals who successfully complete a dental education degree. After earning an undergraduate degree, DMD graduates undergo demanding training, usually four years of dental school. 

The DMD program curriculum focuses on clinical skills, patient care, and dental sciences, emphasizing preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental treatment.

Practitioners holding a DMD are qualified for licensure, and the degree is generally recognized. To educate graduates on a variety of dental issues, DMD courses place a strong emphasis on a holistic approach to dentistry. This is achieved by fusing clinical practice with academic knowledge.

Overview of DDS

A professional degree known as the Doctor of Dental Surgery, or DDS, is granted to those who have fulfilled the prerequisite licensing requirements and have finished dental school. The knowledge and abilities necessary for general dentistry, such as patient care, treatment planning, and oral diagnosis, are provided to practitioners with this degree.

Graduates of the DDS program are eligible to carry out a variety of dental operations, including intricate dental surgeries and regular checkups. The four years of study usually include clinical practice, dental sciences, and hands-on instruction. The DDS is a widely accepted professional certificate that allows dentists to follow various career pathways in healthcare, especially oral health.

Education and Training:

Both degrees require extensive education and training, typically involving four years of undergraduate education and four years of dental school. The curriculum for these degrees is nearly identical, focusing on dental sciences, clinical skills, and patient care. 

Therefore, while the nomenclature of the degrees may differ, the educational requirements are essentially the same.

Comparing DMD and DDS

There are minor differences between the two degrees, even though they both lead to comparable career pathways. We will observe some key differences and similarities between both professions.

A dentist wearing eyeglasses performing a dental procedure on his patient

Differences Between DMD and DDS

When considering these two extremely similar career paths, it is necessary to remember that even though the final result might be similar, there are some differences to keep in mind. Let’s observe these differences.

Nomenclature by Degree 

The main difference between the titles DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) is how they are referred to. The training and education needed for both degrees are almost the same despite this distinction. The dentistry school’s customs or preferences frequently influence the terminology used.

Historical Origins 

The variation is influenced by the terms DMD and DDS’s historical ancestry. DDS has better-established roots and has been around for a longer time. However, the DMD classification was introduced to highlight a more comprehensive medical viewpoint on oral health and the all-encompassing character of dental treatment.

Rational Disparities 

There may be perceived variations in particular areas or among professionals, even though the degrees are similar in terms of educational prerequisites and professional practice. 

While this can differ throughout dental schools, some contend that DMD programs can emphasize the medical side of dentistry a little more. The DMD and DDS program graduates are equally qualified to practice general dentistry, regardless of any apparent distinctions.

Similarities Between DMD and DDS

On the other hand, as we previously mentioned, these two career paths are very similar, so let’s see under which aspects these similarities appear. Finally, we will look at their salaries and how these similarities will play a significant role.

Educational Curriculum 

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degrees have comparable educational trajectories. 

Once a bachelor’s degree is earned, the curriculum for both courses typically lasts four years in dentistry school. Training in clinical procedures and patient care is provided to students in both programs to qualify them for general dentistry practice.

A dentist table with a dental model and other tools on it

Licensure and Professional Acknowledgment

Professional organizations and licensing boards recognize both degrees as comparable. The licensure tests needed to practice general dentistry can be taken by graduates of either degree. Dental professionals can seek comparable job options and professional affiliations with a DMD or DDS, as the degrees are highly recognized.

Practice Scope

For the most part, the scope of practice is the same for those with DMDs and DDSs. Both degrees entitle dental professionals to perform various treatments, such as oral operations, restorative procedures, and preventive care. Dentists who practice general dentistry are qualified to provide a wide range of dental treatments, regardless of the type of degree.

Major Distinguishing Factors Between DDS and DMD Programs

In this field, all dentistry graduate schools adhere to uniform criteria upheld by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Both programs’ graduates follow CODA’s criteria for education and clinical training. 

In addition, candidates for both degrees must pass the same National Dental Board examinations, demonstrating the consistency of the fundamental information and abilities learned in these recognized courses.

When Does a DMD Earn a High Salary?

When considering the factors of a DMD’s salary, two main aspects come to mind: geographical location and type of specialization.

Regarding geographical location, urban areas often offer higher earning potential due to a higher cost of living and increased demand for dental services. Rural areas, on the other hand, may have lower salaries due to the affordable and less competitive living environment.

Likewise, dental specialists, such as oral surgeons, orthodontists, or periodontists, may earn higher salaries than general practitioners. However, together with specialization, the field’s experience level must be considered when discussing salary differences.

When Does a DDS Earn a High Salary?

As we briefly mentioned, the main difference between these two dentistry degrees is the name. Therefore, the courses’ curriculum is highly similar, and the employment outlook and salary are similar.

So, even DDS professionals looking for a higher-than-average salary should apply to job openings in urban areas and pursue a high-profile specialization to maximize their salary.

A dentist doing a dental procedure on his patient

Which Profession Earns a Higher Salary?

Although DMD and DDS professionals both enjoy lucrative career prospects, the salary landscape can vary based on several factors, including:

So, when evaluating potential income, it’s essential to consider these variables, as the average salary can significantly vary based on these factors.

Based on the mean salaries of 1000 dentists who meet the DDS or DMD requirements, the typical earnings are $170,057 a year, or $81.76 per hour in the United States. Professionals with experience can make up to $225,000 annually, while entry-level jobs usually start at $94,472 annually.

Additionally, most surveys conclude that there is no significant difference between the salaries of DMD and DDS.

Are There Notable Salary Differences Between DMD and DDS?

Typically, the salary disparity between DMD and DDS professionals is minimal. The decision to pursue one over the other is often guided by personal preference and the nomenclature adopted by the respective dental school. Both degrees lead to similar career opportunities, and the earning potential remains comparable mainly.

Is the DMD pay higher than the DDS pay?

There’s likely no substantial difference. Both the DMD and DDS degrees generally offer comparable earning potential. Various factors, such as practice location, specialization, and experience, influence salaries in the dental field. Exploring these variables is crucial to understanding the nuanced aspects of income in dentistry.

In The Long Run, Are The Incomes Of DMD And DDS Comparable?

Indeed, the earning potential and career trajectories for DMD and DDS degrees are comparable. The decision between them is often driven by personal preferences and career goals, with financial considerations taking a secondary role in influencing this significant choice in dentistry.

DMD vs DDS Salary - fact

Final Verdict

Choosing between a DMD and a DDS degree is often a matter of personal preference, as both degrees lead to similar career paths. However, when considering potential earnings, it’s crucial to account for location, specialization, and experience.

By understanding the nuanced aspects of DMD vs. DDS salaries, aspiring dentists can make informed decisions that align with their career goals and financial aspirations.

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.