In fact, once mastered, the technique makes dental care for children easier and a higher standard of care can be achieved in less time than would otherwise be required. In addition, it isolates the child from the operativRUBBER DAM – Benifits for the patient and dentist, techniquee field making treatment less invasive of their personal space.
The benefits can be divided into three main categories as shown below.
Damage of soft tissues
The risks of operative treatment include damage to the soft tissues of the mouth from rotary and hand instruments and the medicaments used in the provision of endodontic and other care. Rubber dam will go a long way to preventing damage of this type.
Risk of swallowing or inhalation
There is also the risk that these items may be lost in the patient’s mouth and swallowed or even inhaled and there are reports in the literature to substantiate this risk.
Risk of cross-infection
In addition, there is considerable risk that the use of high-speed rotary instruments distribute an aerosol of the patients’ saliva around the operating room, putting the dentist and staff at risk of infection. Again, a risk that has been substantiated in the literature.
Nitrous oxide sedation
If this is used it is quite likely that mouth breathing by the child will increase the level of the gas in the environment, again putting dentist and staff at risk. The use of rubber dam in this situation will make sure that exhaled gas is routed via the scavenging system attached to the nose piece. Usually less nitrous oxide will be required for a sedative effect, increasing the safety and effectiveness of the procedure.
One of the reasons that dental treatment causes anxiety in patients is that the operative area is very close to and involved with all the most vital functions of the body such as sight, hearing, breathing, and swallowing. When operative treatment is being performed, all these vital functions are put at risk and any sensible child would be concerned. It is useful to discuss these fears with child patients and explain how the risks can be reduced or eliminated.
Glasses should be used to protect the eyes and rubber dam to protect the airways and the oesophagus. By doing this, and provided that good local analgesia has been obtained, the child can feel themselves distanced from the operation. Sometimes it is even helpful to show the child their isolated teeth in a mirror. The view is so different from what they normally see in the mirror that they can divorce themselves from the reality of the situation.
The isolation of the operative area from the child will very often cause the child to become considerably relaxed¾always provided that there is good pain control. It is common for both adult and child patients to fall asleep while undergoing treatment involving the use of rubber dam¾a situation that rarely occurs without. This is a function of the safety perceived by the patient and the relaxed way in which the dental team can work with its assistance.
As noted above, once rubber dam has been placed the child will be at less risk from the procedures that will be used to restore their teeth. This reduces the effort required by the operator to protect the soft tissues of the mouth and the airways. Treatment can be carried out in a more relaxed and controlled manner, therefore lessening the stress of the procedure on the dental team.
Retraction of tongue and cheeks
Correctly placed rubber dam will gently pull the cheeks and tongue away from the operative area allowing the operator a better view of the area to be treated.
Retraction of gingival tissue
Rubber dam will gently pull the gingival tissues away from the cervical margin of the tooth, making it much easier to see the extent of any caries close to the margin and often bringing the cervical margin of a prepared cavity above the level of the gingival margin thus making restoration considerably easier. Interdentally, this retraction should be assisted by placing a wedge firmly between the adjacent teeth as soon as the dam has been placed. This wedge is placed horizontally below the contact area and above the dam, thus compressing the interdental gingivae against the underlying bone. Approximal cavities can then be prepared, any damage from rotary instruments being inflicted on the wedge rather than the child’s gingival tissue.
Quite often it can be difficult and time consuming to take the rubber dam between the contacts because of dentalcaries or broken restorations. It is possible to make life easier by using a ‘trough technique’, which involves snipping the rubber dam between the punched holes. All the benefits of rubber dam are retained except for the retraction and protection of the gingival tissues.
As mentioned previously, silver amalgam is probably the only restorative material that has any tolerance to being placed in a damp environment, and there is no doubt that it and all other materials will perform much more satisfactorily if placed in a dry field. Rubber dam is the only technique that readily ensures a dry field.