Frequently Asked Questions About
Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice
What is An RDHAP?
An RDHAP is a Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice. In 1998 the California Legislature created a new license category of Oral Health Professionals, the Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP). An RDHAP has specialized training and an additional license that allows them to have their own independent business and work in settings other than a dental office and without the supervision of a dentist. (To receive this license the recipient must be a Registered Dental Hygienist with two years pre-requisites in General Education and Science and have graduated from an accredited program of biomedical sciences, dental and dental hygiene science and passed the State examination. In addition the recipient must have a Bachelor's Degree or equivalent, verification of practice experience, a certificate of completion of an accrecited post-graduate training program specific for this license.)
Why was the RDHAP created?
The purpose of this new license category was to develop a mid-level practitioner, similar to a nurse practitioner, to deliver dental hygiene care and preventative services to special populations in alternative settings, rather than the traditional dental office or clinic. The legislature authorized a Health Manpower Pilot Project to review the work of dental hygienists practicing independently and determined the care they provide is equal to that received in a traditional dental office.
Where can the RDHAP provide services?
In areas where there is a dearth of dentists, the RDHAP can open an office. Their services can always be provided in schools, institutions, residence and skilled nursing facilities and private homes of homebound persons.
How can RDHAPs be of value to residential facilities?
The RDHAP can be a link between residential home administration and staff, families and community dental providers, and they can be a conduit between the dentist and the consumer.
They can provide:
- Oral evaluations and oral care plans
- Customized direct care staff in-service training for providing resident oral care
- In-residence and bed-side dental hygiene care which may include:
(cleaning of debris, bacteria and deposits above the gumline)
- Non-surgical periodontal therapies
(scaling and root planning below the gumline which may required topical anesthetic)
- Denture and partial cleaning
- Strategies for prevention of cavities and gum disease
How does the RDHAP get paid?
RDHAPs are independent providers who bill insurance companies and responsible parties for services provided to private pay or Medi-Cal insured residents. Non-covered dental hygiene services to residents of SNF’s qualify for Share of Cost. Fees for in-service presentations will vary.
Why utilize an RDHAP?
Prevention is the key to avoiding extensive dental treatment and the toll it takes on the resident and skilled nursing facility staff. Staff and families will appreciate the one-on-one care and time given to each resident by the RDHAP.
How do I contact an RDHAP to discuss a program for my facility?
The website of the California Dental Hygienists’ Association (www.cdha.org) has a roster of licensed, member RDHAPs listed by county.