A rubber dam is a barrier made of stretchy rubber that is positioned in your mouth to isolate the treatment site and cover the rest of the mouth. Rubber dams are very useful for certain treatments, particularly when the dentist needs to focus on a specific area of the mouth. Also because the dam covers the throat, tongue, and all the remaining soft tissue of the mouth, you won’t experience any accidental grazing of an instrument or effects from material remnants that may come loose during a treatment.
One particular treatment that greatly benefits from the use of a rubber dam is fillings or composites. Since composites bond to the surface of the tooth, any moisture, such as saliva or even the humidity present in your breath, could affect how effectively the bond adheres to the tooth. Ineffective bonding can cause sensitivity, recurrent decay or in the most extreme case, loss of the filling. To avoid this situation, and keep the area of the filling or composite dry, the dentist uses a rubber dam to separate the tooth from the rest of the oral environment, which prevents any saliva or moisture from contaminating the site. The dam is also commonly used during root canal procedures.
Avoiding accidental injury to the patient is also our utmost concern; by using the rubber dam to expose only the treatment site, the rest of the mouth, tongue, and back of the throat are protected from the unlikely event of any materials or rinse leaving the treatment area, or an instrument grazing the tissue of the mouth.