The dental dam, also called a rubber dam, was first used in dentistry more than 150 years ago. If you have experienced root canal therapy or other endodontic or even routine dental procedures, you may have had a rubber dam placed in your mouth. Because of its many advantages for both patients and practitioners, the rubber dam has become the standard of care for many in-office dental procedures.
Since its invention, the humble dam has undergone many improvements, resulting in several advances that make the product even more useful for operative dentistry. The dam sheets themselves are now created from a non-latex material to serve patients with latex allergies and reduce instances of dermatitis, as well as greater resistance to tearing. And new frames that hold the rubber dam sheets can now retract the lips and cheeks without covering the patient’s mouth and nose. The articulated frame provides the advantage of giving practitioners access to the buccal area of the mouth and has a reservoir at the frame’s bottom for gauze and cannula placement. Another type of frame, the Safe-T-Frame, offers raised edges to contain fluid and a secure fit without having to stretch the dam sheet. There are even a series of pre-framed dams that can speed up the placement process or provide single-use efficiency to eliminate the need for sterilization.
Besides being improved and modernized, the rubber dam provides a host of benefits for practitioners and patients alike and should be considered a prerequisite for many operative procedures in modern-day restorative dental practice.
A rubber dam offers clear advantages for patients and practitioners, particularly when high standards of patient care are set. Here are some of the most evident reasons rubber dams are essential for many operative and restorative dental procedures:
1. Retraction of Soft Tissue
When correctly placed, a rubber dam helps retract, or pull back, the tissues that surrounds the teeth to allow the practitioner clear access to the areas in between teeth that require restoration, as well as easier access to areas of decay that exist along the gumline. By eliminating the distraction of tissues and even other teeth, your practitioner can focus more readily on the tooth in need of restoration, for a quicker, more efficient procedure.
2. Excellent Infection Control
During long dental procedures, it is common for patients to cough, an event which can send potentially infectious aerosol droplets into the surrounding atmosphere. In today’s COVID-prone environment, this tendency can pose a definite hazard to dentists, dental assistants, and other patients. A rubber dam can provide a barrier to these particles for enhanced safety. In fact, studies have shown that dam placement can reduce the potential for airborne salivary fluids by 70%. Furthermore, the dam creates an aseptic field that, especially during endodontic treatments such as root canals, can prevent oral microbes from entering the canal and causing infection that can lead to treatment failure.
3. Increased Patient Safety
Simply put, a rubber dam can keep hazardous materials such as filling material, sodium hypochlorite, and even small dental instruments from being accidentally inhaled or ingested by the patient during treatment. In addition, patient care is simplified by rubber dam placement as they remove the need for constant rinsing of the mouth to remove debris.
4. Enhanced Comfort for Dental Patients
Patients who have experienced dental procedures that required the use of a rubber dam find them to be more comfortable and pleasant that those without dam placement. This may be because the dam blunts the feel of the dental instruments, rinses, and other materials that are used in operative dentistry.
5. More Accuracy for Dental Professionals
Dental dams allow dental professionals to isolate the areas of the mouth in which they will work. This isolation removes the distraction of active tongue movement and other soft tissues, reduces mirror fogging that can interfere with procedures, and showcases the correct tooth for restoration while blocking the rest of the mouth from view, helping to increase focus.
6. Greater Protection of Soft Tissues
Typically, dental procedures require the use of instruments, including rotary and burr devices. A rubber dam provides protection to the soft tissues of the mouth from potential trauma caused by the practitioner’s hands or instruments.
While rubber dam use is contraindicated in a small number of cases—for patients who have an allergy to the dam material, who suffer from claustrophobia, or those who are epileptic—the broad base of patients will benefit from rubber dam placement during dental procedures.
At Renovo Endodontic Studio, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the highest level of patient care. Using a rubber dam during endodontic treatment is just one of the ways we ensure our patients have the most comfortable—and successful—treatment experiences for the health of their teeth.
Not only can using a rubber dam provide a more relaxing and safe experience for you, the patient, but it also provides our practitioners with numerous advantages that help our team provide the highest quality dental restorations. Coupled with state-of-the-art dental technology and deep knowledge of endodontic techniques, our team of experts can ensure that you will enjoy long-lasting, aesthetic results that can help you preserve the beauty and integrity of your natural teeth.
If you are considering root canal therapy, our team at renovoendo.com is ready to help you smile your brightest. For high-quality, long-lasting tooth restorations, book your appointment at one of our endodontic studios today.