The Dental Hygiene Board of California is responsible for the licensure of Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) including licensing of registered dental hygienists in alternative practice and registered dental hygienists in extended functions.

Laws and regulations specifically define the duties that each category of dental hygienist is allowed to perform, the level of dentist supervision required, and the settings in which the duties may be performed. The law governing the practice of registered dental hygienists is Business and Professions Code, Division 2, Chapter 4, Article 9, Sections 1900-1967.4 and regulations regarding RDH can be reviewed at California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Division 11 – Dental Hygiene Board of California.

The Dental Hygiene Board of California grants initial licensure as a registered dental hygienist to an RDH applicant who satisfies all of the following requirements:

(a) Completion of an educational program for registered dental hygienists, approved by the hygiene board, accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA), and conducted by a degree-granting, postsecondary institution.

(b) Within the preceding two years, satisfactory completion of the dental hygiene examination given by the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) or any other clinical or dental hygiene examination approved by the hygiene board.

(c) Satisfactory completion of the National Dental Hygiene Board Examination.

(d) Satisfactory completion of the examination in California law and ethics as prescribed by the dental hygiene board.

(e) Submission of a completed application form and all fees required by the hygiene board.

(f) Satisfactory completion of hygiene board-approved instruction in gingival soft tissue curettage, nitrous oxide-oxygen analgesia, and local anesthesia.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 858, Sec. 19. (SB 1482) Effective January 1, 2019.)

The DHBC may also grant licenses to those who have not completed clinical examinations under Section 1917.1.

In addition, all Registered dental hygienists must undergo a criminal background check. For all DHBC renewal cycles beginning July 01, 2011, electronic fingerprinting is required using the LiveScan service in California if you have not already done so. This process can take 60 days or more.

A licensee may have his or her license revoked or suspended, or may be reprimanded or placed on probation by the hygiene board for unprofessional conduct, incompetence, gross negligence, repeated acts of negligence in his or her profession, receiving a license by mistake, or for any other cause applicable to the licentiate.

An RDH licensee may have his or her license revoked or suspended, or may be reprimanded or placed on probation by the hygiene board, for conviction of a crime substantially related to the licensee’s qualifications, functions, or duties. The record of conviction or a copy certified by the clerk of the court or by the judge in whose court the conviction occurred shall be conclusive evidence of conviction.

Note that even a DUI is considered within this definition of “substantially related to the licensee’s qualifications”:

It is unprofessional conduct for a person licensed under this article to do any of the following:

(a) Obtain or possess in violation of law, or except as directed by a licensed physician and surgeon, dentist, or podiatrist, a controlled substance, as defined in Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code, or any dangerous drug as defined in Section 4022.

(b) Use a controlled substance, as defined in Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code, or a dangerous drug as defined in Section 4022, or alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances, to an extent or in a manner dangerous or injurious to himself or herself, to any person, or the public to the extent that the use impairs the licensee’s ability to conduct with safety to the public the practice authorized by his or her license.

(c) Be convicted of a charge of violating any federal statute or rules, or any statute or rule of this state, regulating controlled substances, as defined in Division 10 (commencing with Section 11000) of the Health and Safety Code, or any dangerous drug, as defined in Section 4022, or be convicted of more than one misdemeanor, or any felony, involving the use or consumption of alcohol or drugs, if the conviction is substantially related to the practice authorized by his or her license.

(1) The record of conviction or a copy certified by the clerk of the court or by the judge in whose court the conviction is had, shall be conclusive evidence of a violation of this section. A plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere is deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this section.

(2) The hygiene board may order the license suspended or revoked, or may decline to issue a license, when the time for appeal has elapsed or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, or when an order granting probation is made suspending imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under any provision of the Penal Code, including, but not limited to, Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code, allowing a person to withdraw his or her plea of guilty and to enter a plea of not guilty, or setting aside the verdict of guilty, or dismissing the accusation, information, or indictment.

(Amended by Stats. 2018, Ch. 858, Sec. 46. (SB 1482) Effective January 1, 2019.)

If you have a criminal conviction or any sort of application vulnerability, you need to consult with and get professional legal advice as to how to disclose this conviction to licensing authorities. 

The Law Offices of Lucy McAllister are skilled legal experts advising RDH applicants about:

  • How to report their criminal convictions to the Dental Hygiene Board of California
  • How to address Board investigations to ensure they have the best representation and a strong legal strategy going into the investigatory process.
  • Advising clients about the pitfalls inherent in choosing to participate in diversion programs for those applicants who have substance or alcohol abuse convictions.
  • Petitioning the dental board for a modification of a term or condition of a probationary license or for the issuance of a license that is not probationary.
  • Reinstatement of suspended or revoked RDH licenses.
  • Helping RDH applicants expunge criminal convictions under Section 4.

If you are applying to be licensed as an RDH and need to report criminal convictions and/or are being investigated by the Dental Hygiene Board of California, you should call our Law Offices immediately. After 30 years of practice, Lucy McAllister knows exactly what the Board is looking for in an RDH licensing application, criminal disclosures and investigations.

Please contact her law office so that they can help you continue on the professional path you have trained for in dental hygiene. Our skilled professionals can help ensure that your RDH license is defended and that you can practice the profession which you have so diligently studied for.