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What is a RDHAP

In 1998 the California Legislature created a new license category of Oral Health Professionals, the Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice, abbreviated as RDHAP. The purpose of this new license category was to deliver dental hygiene care and preventive services to special populations in alternative settings where people live or frequent, rather than the traditional dental office or clinic.

An RDHAP may be able to meet many of the needs of residents of residential care facilities.  More importantly, the RDHAP can help develop critical prevention strategies.  Preventing or minimizing oral problems can be achievable for many residents, saving staff time, reducing pain, suffering, and loss of self esteem.


The RDAHP can be a critical bridge between residential facility staff and dental office providers. They are able to:

  •  Screen

  •  Participate in oral health planning

  •  Provide simple and deep teeth cleaning, therapies for dry mouth, and strategies to prevent dental disease

  •  Identify referrals

  •  Customize staff in-service programs


In the long run, prevention is the key to avoiding extensive dental treatment and the toll it takes on the resident and staff.  Staff will appreciate the one-on-one care and time given to each resident.

The RDHAP license was created in 1998 by the California Legislature after a 12 year safety study.  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 accredited post-graduate training program specific for this license; and must pass a State examination.

By State law, RDHAPs are able to practice in residences of people who are homebound, schools,  residential facilities, institutions and in dental health shortage areas.

Kimberly Farrell-Rodriguez, RDHAP

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