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Required and Prohibited Conduct
All licensees are responsible for understanding and following the laws and regulations which govern their practice. Violations can result in license denial or discipline, as well as criminal prosecution.
These pages touch on only some of the requirements that may be of interest to auxiliary licensees. DHCC's publication of laws and regulations affecting dental hygiene is available for download.
All complaints about the unlicensed practice of dentistry, or against licensed dental professionals, whether hygienists or dentists, are handled by the Dental Board of California, which can be contacted at 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 15050, Sacramento, CA 95815, telephone (916)263-2300.
Statues and regulations specifically define the duties that each category of hygienist 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.
All of the duties that are contained in DHCC's publication of laws and regulations can be found on our laws and regulations web page.
Regulation section 1005 details the minimum standards for infection that all dental health professions must follow. This regulation can be found in the publication of laws and regulation referred to above.
Visit our Renewal and Maintenance web page for information about license renewal and maintenance.
Following are frequently asked questions:
- Does the dentist have to see the patient before a hygienist performs any procedures?
- Section 1684.5 of the Business and Professions Code, which specifies that it is unprofessional conduct for a dentist to allow any treatment to be performed on a patient who is not a patient of record of that dentist, which is defined as a patient who has been examined, has had a medical and dental history completed and evaluated, and has had oral conditions diagnosed and a written plan developed by the licensed dentist. Section 1684.5 provides several exceptions, which are that a dentist may, after conducting a preliminary oral exam, permit a dental hygienist to perform allowable procedures necessary for diagnostic purposes, or to perform the following prior to the dentist's examination:
- (1) Expose emergency radiographs upon direction of the dentist.
- (2) Perform extra-oral duties or functions specified by the dentist.
- (3) Perform mouth-mirror inspections of the oral cavity, to include charting of obvious lesions, malocclusions, existing restorations, and missing teeth
- Section 1684.5 does not apply to dentists providing examinations on a temporary basis outside of a dental office in settings including, but not limited to, health fairs and school screenings, nor does it apply to fluoride mouth rinse or supplement programs administered in a school or preschool setting.
- Do hygiene duties have to be posted in the office?
- Regulation section 1068 requires that dental hygiene duties be posted in a common area of the office.
- Do licenses have to be posted in the office? Do dental personnel have to wear nametags?
- There is no requirement in law that actual licenses be posted. However, Business and Professions Code Section 1700 provides that a person is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to disciplinary action if any person "engages in the practice of dentistry without causing to be displayed in a conspicuous place in his or her office the name of each and every person employed there in the practice of dentistry."
Also, Business and Professions Code Section 680 provides: "Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, a health care professional shall disclose, while working, his or her name and practitioner's license status, as granted by this state, on a name tag in at least 18 point type. A health care practitioner in a practice or an office, whose license is prominently displayed, may opt not to wear a name tag. If a health care practitioner or a licensed clinical social worker is working in a psychiatric setting or in a setting that is not licensed by the state, the employing entity or agency shall have the discretion to make an exception from the name tag requirement for individual safety or therapeutic concerns..." A "health care practitioner" includes a person holding only a radiation certificate, since the law defines a "health care practitioner" as any person licensed or regulated, and a radiation certificate holder is regulated.
In summary, if licenses are posted in view of the public, dental licensees do NOT need to wear name tags. Also, since dental offices themselves are not "licensed by the state", the owner has the discretion to make an exception for an individual employee from the name tag requirement for individual safety concerns.
- What are the requirements for making notations in the patient's treatment record?
- Business and Professions Code section 1683 requires that every dentist, dental health professional, or other licensed health professional who performs a service on a patient in a dental office shall identify himself or herself in the patient record by signing his or her name, or an identification number and initials, next to the service performed and shall date those treatment entries in the record. Any person licensed under this chapter who owns, operates, or manages a dental office shall ensure compliance with this requirement.
- Do I have to notify DHCC if I change my address?
- Yes, law requires that each licensee notify DHCC of any change to his or her address within 30 days after the change. Failure to do so will result in the licensee no longer receiving important information, such as renewal notices.
- What does the law require that I do if I know or suspect that a child who has come to the office has been abused?
- Section 11166 of the Penal Code requires any health practitioner, which includes a dental hygienist, who has knowledge of, or observes, a child in his or her professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment whom he or she knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse to report the instance to a child protective agency immediately, or as soon as practically possible.