Dental assisting is not just a job to Mary Neall, CDA. It’s proven to be a rewarding and fulfilling career  for her. It has spanned 40 years, including 35 years maintaining DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification. We caught up with Mary to find out what it takes to succeed and thrive in dental assisting for 40 years.


Compassion and Dedication

“The bottom line is the patient needs to be taken care of. So it’s about dedication and compassion. You have to step into somebody else’s shoes for a second and say, ‘If this was me, how would I want somebody to take care of me? How would I want to be treated?’”


Communication Skills

“You have to speak well and be educated. You have to know your stuff so that you can project a good professional appearance and confidence. I learned how to communicate well with patients because I love patient education. Many of the previous dentists I worked for took the time to explain procedures to me in-depth, and I would retain that. So my dentist trusts me to handle patient education. And when I explain the procedures to patients, they’re aware of what’s going to happen and that makes them more confident and more relaxed.”


Commitment to Continuing Education

“It’s important that a dental assistant be up to date with her knowledge. She needs to know that there are better techniques emerging in dentistry. And they need to be up to date with all of those of things for the betterment of the patients and so your employer has confidence in you. Therefore, you need to get the education and keep up your certification.”


Mary Neall, CDA, works as a dental assistant in Annapolis, Maryland.