Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice In California, 2009 Descriptive Report


Cynthia Wides, Tim Bates, Elizabeth Mertz

December 1, 2011

New workforce models in dentistry are being explored as potential solutions to improving the dental care delivery system for underserved populations.  In 1998, California officially recognized a new dental health profession: the Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP).  RDHAPs may practice without the supervision of a dentist in private homes, schools, residential care facilities and other institutions, and in Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas.  However, to gain licensure, RDHAPs are required to have a “dentist of record,” on file with the Dental Hygiene Committee of California for use in consultations and in emergencies.

The report provides a detailed look at RDHAPs’ demographics, education, professional activities, practice data, and issues around professional development and advancement. This study was supported by the Center for Special Care at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, University of the Pacific.