Welcome to the Dental Hygiene Committee of CA

How to Become a Licensed Dental Auxiliary in California, Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP), Application Instructions


Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice (RDHAP’s) are not permitted to incorporate, pursuant to Sections 13401 and 13401.5 of the Corporations Code.

The Dental Hygiene Committee of California will return “Fictitious Name Permit Applications” that include ”incorporated” as part of the fictitious name.

If you have questions regarding this please contact the committee at (916) 263-1978.

Application Instructions

Effective January 1, 1998, a new category of licensure was established by law which DHCC examines and licenses: Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP).

This page contains information about RDHAPs with regard to Qualification and Examination for Licensure and Allowable Duties/Frequently Asked Questions.

Prohibited conduct information and license renewal and maintenance are available on our web site.

Generally, applicants for RDHAP licensure are required to hold a current RDH license, have been engaged in clinical practice as a dental hygienist for a minimum of 2,000 hours during the immediately preceding 36 months (which can be in California or another state), possess a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, complete 150 hours of an approved educational program, and pass a written examination prescribed by the Dental Board.

On August 9, 2002, the Dental Board approved the first RDHAP educational program, which will be provided by West Los Angeles College. For more information, contact Ginny Williams at allied health@wlac.edu (310) 287-4464.

In February 2004, the Dental Board approved an online RDHAP educational program, which will be provided by the Pacific Center for Special Care at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. This is primarily a distance education program, with only two in-person meetings required. For more information, go to dental.pacific.edu/.

Summary of Scope of Practice

Once licensed, an RDHAP may practice as (1) an employee of a dentist; (2) an employee of another registered dental hygienist in alternative practice; (3) as an independent contractor; (4) as a sole proprietor of an alternative dental hygiene practice; (5) as an employee of a primary care clinic or specialty clinic that is licensed pursuant to Section 1204 of the Health and Safety Code; (6) as an employee of a primary care clinic that is licensed pursuant to Section 1204 of the Health and Safety Code; (7) as an employee of a clinic owned or operated by a public hospital or health system; or, (8) as an employee of a clinic owned and operated by a hospital that maintains the primary contract with a county government to fill the county's role under Section 17000 of the Welfare and Institutions code (The Legislative Counsel site contains the exact language of Section 1204 of the Health and Safety Code).

They may perform the duties established by Board regulation in the following settings:
(1) Residences of the homebound.
(2) Schools.
(3) Residential facilities and other institutions.
(4) Dental health professional shortage areas, as certified by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development in accordance with existing office guidelines.

An RDHAP may only perform allowable services for a patient who presents a written prescription for dental hygiene services issued by a dentist or physician and surgeon licensed to practice in this state who has performed a physical examination and a diagnosis of the patient prior to a prescription being provided. The prescription shall be valid for a time period based on the dentist's or physician and surgeon's professional judgment, but not to exceed 15 months from the date that it was issued.

Prior to the establishment of an independent practice, an RDHAP must provide to the board documentation of an existing relationship with at least one dentist for referral, consultation, and emergency services. The dentist's license must be current, active and not under discipline by the board. Any changes must be reported to the Board in writing, within 30 days following such change.

Existing Practitioners Under the HMPP

Persons who completed the required coursework under the HMPP (Health Manpower Pilot Project) and established an independent practice by June 30, 1997, do not need to comply with the above requirements. They may apply for a license by obtaining an application from DHCC. Applicants must provide proof of having established a practice by June 30, 1997, complete the application, and pay a $50 application fee and a $51 fingerprint fee. A license will be issued once the person's criminal history background investigation has been completed.

Allowable Duties/Frequently Asked Questions

Law and regulation specifically define the duties that each category of auxiliary is allowed to perform, the level of dentist supervision required, and the settings in which the duties may be performed. It is a criminal offense to perform illegal functions, as well as grounds for license discipline of both the person performing the illegal function and any person who aid or abets such illegal activity.

The duties that RDHAPs are allowed to perform are specified in Sections 1925 of the Business and Professions Code.

Those sections are contained in DHCC's publication of laws and regulations that can be viewed or printed.