I was reminded that RDHAPs can actually work for dentists in traditional clinical settings. Practically speaking, this does not affect the practice or care of the clinician, but I still wanted to include this for clarity.
There are many clinics through the country, including Indian clinics, federally qualified health clinics, free clinics, and even dental school and dental hygiene schools, where patients can receive dental hygiene care. Since the RDHAP does not need to be overseen by a dentist to practice, they can be hired to work in a variety of settings in an effort to increase access to care.
Among the many skills of every dental hygienist (RDH) and registered dental hygienist in alternative practice (RDHAP) is that of oral health education. Not only can we teach you how to keep your teeth clean (OK, nag about brushing and flossing :-) ), we can train caregivers how to best work with their clients, parents to care for their children's teeth, and give presentations to public groups, professional caregivers, and school children, all with the goal of helping everyone maintain the best oral health possible. Just ask!
I guess to conclude this 5 part series of our scope of practice. If you see a unmet dental hygiene need or feel your community could be improved by connecting with and RDHAP capable of serving your area, use this website as a way to connect with one. Each of us is capable of answering your questions and can either establish a practice or be a resource for you to find an RDHAP to meet your oral health care needs.
Also, please leave a comment if you would like further information.
Elena Francisco, RDHAP, MS has been practicing dental hygiene for over 40 years and has been an RDHAP since 2005.