November 29, 2005
A Q&A session with Mairead Doherty, a dental assistant, who works for a private dentist office in San Diego, CA. Mairead has been in the field for 8 years.

Q: Describe your average daily routine. What types of tasks are you expected to complete as part of your job?

A: I greet patients when they arrive, bring them to the treatment room and review procedures with them. I set up rooms with the proper instruments and materials. I assist the doctor during the procedure at all times until the treatment is complete. I sterilize all instruments, order supplies, update charts at each visit, take x-rays, make temps and take impressions.


Q: What do you like the most about being a dental assistant?

A: Because I work for a general dentist, I get to see the same people on a regular basis. It’s fun getting to know them and to see how happy they are when they complete their treatment, whether it be cosmetic work or whitening. Also, working 4 days a week is a bonus, as most dentists tend to only work Monday through Thursday.


Q: What do you dislike, if anything, about dental assisting?

A: Nothing.


Q: What is your work environment like?

A: It all depends on the office. My environment is upbeat, busy, fun and very relaxed.


Q: What is your work schedule like?

A: I work 36 hours per week Monday through Thursday with 2 weeks vacation per year.


Q: Where did you get the training necessary for your job?

A: I was actually trained on the job. Then, after you have been in the field for 3 years you can take the exam to get certified which I did. Just look up the Committee on Dental Auxiliaries near you and they will have all the information on what you need to do get certified.


Q: Would you recommend your job as a dental assistant to another person?

A: I would recommend this job because it pays well, the hours are great and you would never be without a job – people always need a dentist no matter were you live.


Q: What is the next step in your career?

A: I’m planning on staying in my current job indefinitely.

View a list of schools in California offering dental assistant programs.