DDS stands for doctor of dental surgery. This is the terminal degree in the study of dentistry. Every dentist in the US needs to complete this level of study to be licensed to practice. These degree plans include a comprehensive course of study in every area of dentistry as well as a complete understanding of the interworking of oral and facial structures. Following the degree, dentists can choose to complete a residency for 1 to 2 years working closely with medical professionals.
The difference is one of semantics. DMD stands for doctor of medicine in dentistry and/or doctor of dental medicine. A DMD education is identical to a DDS education, they must complete their doctoral studies in the dental field and a general dentistry or specialization residency. Each individual dental school determines which of the two degrees they will confer, but both doctoral degrees make dentists eligible for licensure to work in the field of dentistry.
For the everyday person, a DDS FAGD only means that the dentist has acquired the highest level of accreditation to be able to practice. FAGD stands for Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry. In order to obtain this level of honor within this highly respected professional institution, a dentist needs to complete numerous hours of advanced training and education as well as a variety of other parameters in order to be considered for fellowship. This high honor is only achieved by about 6% of dentists in the state of Texas, and the majority of these doctors have worked as a dentist for decades.