How do You Spell Oral Surgeon? DDS, DMD, MD, FACS…

Would you trade years of your life (and part of your life savings) for a handful of letters after your name? You might if they signified your commitment to your livelihood, your practice, and your patients!

The surgeons at Southern Maine Oral Surgery have a medley of letter combinations after their names: MD, DDS, DMD, and FACS to be precise. But what do these letters tell you about your surgeon or general dentist? Let’s unpack the alphabet soup of dentistry. 

DDS and DMD are the most common acronyms among dentists, and signify that this individual has graduated from dental school. The American Dental Association reports that the first established Dentistry Degree was awarded in 1840, to graduates of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. These degrees bestowed the title of Doctor of Dental Surgery–DDS. Twenty-seven years later, graduates from Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine received the degree of Dentariae Medicinae Doctorate–Latin for Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry, or DMD!  

Whether your dentist or oral surgeon has a DMD or DDS chasing their name, they have fulfilled the same educational requirements to practice general dentistry. Both DDS’s and DMD’s are required to pass the National Board Dental Examination, as well as a clinical board examination specific to their regional area of practice. They must also earn a license to practice dentistry in their state through passing a jurisprudence exam about state laws on medical privacy, practice, and ethics. If a dentist or surgeon decides to move states, they must retest and receive a new license for that state.

Although they specialize in oral medicine, some dentists and surgeons choose to pursue their Doctor of Medicine degree, or MD. The path to earning an MD involves four more years of medical school, passing various national and regional licensure examinations, and completion of a medical residency. Depending on the intended specialty of the MD, their residency term length can vary from 3 — 7+ years. 

The final category of medical labels are Fellowships, such as Dr. Mitchell’s Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS). In order to receive the title of Fellow, medical professionals must demonstrate a dedication to continuing their medical education through teaching, practice, and/or research. Additionally, aspiring Fellows must also receive a recommendation from current Fellows, who vouch for the applicant’s character, ethics, and excellence as a medical practitioner. 

Any way you spell it, the letters following our surgeons’ names are more than mere labels: they represent years of dedication to their education and practice of oral surgery and dental medicine. In addition to the individual words they stand for, those initials also stand for your surgeon’s ability to treat you with the highest level of care! 

Next time you visit SMOMS, ask your surgeon about their dental school experience! They’d love to tell you about their favorite part or biggest challenge in achieving their letter label.

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