Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. I was asking a few RDHAPs who have stand-alone dental hygiene practices if they could contribute to this posting. They, of course, are busy, and unable to respond, so here goes. I will do my best to complete this cohesively.
An RDHAP is licensed to provide dental hygiene care to those with limited access to care in the traditional dental office setting. I want to expand a little more about what a person who has "limited access to dental hygiene care" look like. So far we have addressed the first three areas of practice. Free-standing offices are just as they sound, more like a traditional dental office.
RDHAPs can open what are called free-standing dental hygiene practices, just as dentists do. The caveat is that we can only open these practices in Dental Professional Shortage Areas. So, what exactly is a Dental Professional Shortage Area (DPSA)? The government has designated any community with fewer than 1 dentist per 5000 residents to be a DPSA. In some communities the ration can be as low as a ratio of 1 dentist per 4000 residents. At any rate, that is how they decide where we can open practices. But, the next question is, what makes an RDHAP decide he or she would rather do that than open a practice that visits homes, schools, and nursing facilities as we have discussed in parts 1, 2, and 3 of this blog?
Providing dental hygiene care (and dental care, for that matter), can be a very physically challenging business. It can be hard on our bodies and those of our patients. An RDHAP who opens a "brick and mortar" or "free standing" practice can create an reception room, treatment rooms, and restrooms, geared toward receiving and treating the patient in a wheelchair comfortably. Sadly, we also know that patients in some dental offices get very uncomfortable when the patient with a severe disability comes into the dental office. A specially designed RDHAP office can make a patient much more comfortable than trying to squeeze into a small treatment room in a regular dental practice. These practices can be a win-win.
If you have a family member or are caring for someone who needs dental hygiene care and could benefit from having them treated by an RDHAP in his or her practice, we can help you find one.