A registered dental hygienist in alternative practice or RDHAP is licensed to provide dental hygiene care to those with limited access to the traditional dental office setting. I wanted to share a little about who these folks are. What does a person who has “limited access to dental hygiene care” look like?
I wanted to break this post into 4 smaller bits of information. As I may have already said and is also stated in the About section of this website, we can see patients in:
- Residences of the homebound
- Residential care facilities
- We can also open free-standing offices
- Dental offices and Federally Qualified Health Centers
We can take our practice to residences of the homebound, providing dental hygiene care for patients who have challenges getting to the dental office. These patients may be unable to leave the home without the assistance of an ambulance or getting out may be a physical and emotional challenge.
Our patients may be those with temporary disabilities, such as an accident or surgery with a long recovery process. We also see those with developmental disabilities or progressive disease processes, such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, or any of a number of illnesses or conditions that make mobility and caring for their oral health challenging.
Family members and caregivers notice that people fighting disabilities have to pick their battles when choosing to leave their homes. Getting in and out of the car, in and out of the dental office, and in and out of the dental chair can be very stressful and even painful. An RDHAP can see these patient at home for cleanings, periodontal maintenance, fluoride application, and whatever assistance the RDHAP can provide, saving the stressful visits to the dental office for dental examinations and restorative care. We collaborate with dentists and can help the patient and dentist better manage their care.
We also collaborate with the patient’s physician to insure we are not putting the patient at risk for medical complications.
The RDHAP is well-trained to assess the oral health of each patient. The law in California states, however, that the patient still needs to have a dental examination on a regular basis. Your RDHAP will assist you in making sure the patient has his or her dental examination needs met.