A dentist is a person qualified by a doctorate in dental surgery (D.D.S.) or dental medicine (D.M.D.), licensed by the state to practice dentistry, and practicing within the scope of that license. There is no difference between the two degrees: dentists who have a DMD or DDS have the same education. Universities have the prerogative to determine what degree is awarded. Both degrees use the same curriculum requirements set by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation. Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to graduate and become a general dentist. State licensing boards accept either degree as equivalent, and both degrees allow licensed individuals to practice the same scope of general dentistry. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist.
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