By Dr. Christopher C.K. Ho
The application of rubber dam is recommended to achieve adequate isolation for many dental procedures, helping to provide a clean, dry environment and minimises contamination from saliva and blood.
It also plays a crucial role in preventing ingestion or aspiration of instruments, tooth debris, dental materials, medicaments, irrigants or other foreign bodies. As well as the provision of isolation and moisture control, there is the added benefit of retraction of lips, cheeks and tongue. This allows improved access, visualisation and protection of soft tissues from rotary instrumentation. The use of coloured rubber dam helps to achieve better visualisation of the teeth with a contrasting colour of the rubber dam material.
It is often commented that placement of the rubber dam is a difficult procedure and that the time it takes to apply the dam is excessive. The other concern for dentists is that it can uncomfortable for the patient while the dam is being placed due to the stretching required to seat the dam.
The author utilises a technique that has been very useful in his practice in isolating a full arch very quickly, and comfortably for the patient. This is particularly useful when working on multiple teeth with direct procedures like the removal of amalgam and caries, and placement of restorations. It can also be effectively used in the preparation and cementation of indirect restorations, e.g. porcelain veneers/onlays/crowns.
This technique is a useful one to have in your armamentarium for utilisation within clinical practice.