What is a dental dam and why is it used?

A dental dam is a protective cover that is placed over a tooth being worked on. It is held in place by a clamp that surrounds the tooth and a framework that keeps the rubber approximated to the mouth and cheeks. Another name for this device is a rubber dam.

The dental dam is used during procedures that require drilling of tooth decay or removal of old filling. In addition to these areas, its most frequent use is during root canal treatment.

The dam protects the patient and keeps instruments, debris, old filling material and chemicals from being swallowed or aspirated by the patient.

Certain circumstances will prevent the protective cover from being used. These include but are not limited to: extremely broken teeth, claustophobic patients, patients with breathing disorders or patients that request it not be used.

In general, the rubber dam is a comfortable fit and patients will have not trouble breathing with it on.

It is an important part of dentistry that will allow the clinician, as well as, the patient to have a sense of comfort during a procedure knowing the mouth and throat are protected.

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