Originally published on October 30, 2020 on the Ivoclar Vivadent Global Blog website.

OptraDam_088To place or not to place a rubber dam?

That was the big question until Covid-19 arrived on the scene. Now the question is no longer whether to use a rubber dam or not, but rather, how to place it efficiently and effectively.

Various additional health and safety protocols have had to be implemented in dental offices in order to protect patients and dental health care personnel from contracting or transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 virus: this includes the observation of excellent hand hygiene practices, the use of personal protective equipment as well as pre-procedural mouth rinsing – and whenever possible – the placement of a rubber dam.

Dental dams provide an effective protective shield

A rubber dam significantly decreases droplet spatter and the generation of aerosols contaminated with blood and saliva, in particular when high-speed dental handpieces and ultrasonic scalers are used. Rubber dams provide an effective shield against microorganisms found in the mouth and throat. Nevertheless, even if a rubber dam is in place during a dental procedure, regular suction in addition to high evacuation suction should be used in order to reduce aerosols and droplet spatter. It is particularly important to minimize the generation of aerosols in cases where rubber dam isolation is not possible. In these situations, manual equipment and chemomechanical caries removal measures as well as hand instruments for caries removal and periodontal scaling are indicated. 

A bad reputation

The placement of a conventional dental dam is often considered to be time-consuming and cumbersome. Working the rubber material between the contact points can be quite a laborious task. It involves trying various types of rubber qualities and using dental floss and water-soluble lubricants. This is an uncomfortable process for the patient and requires more than one person to accomplish. Furthermore, the time needed for the placement is hard to predict. 


A “friendlier version” of the rubber dam

OptraDam Plus from Ivoclar Vivadent offers a kind and gentle solution for creating a clean working field. Due to the integrated pliable ring frame, the OptraDam Plus is easy to place in the patient’s mouth [1]. The markings for punching the holes are positioned in such a way that the rubber material automatically fits into the sulcus. This improves the seal around the cervical part of the teeth – and makes the dam comfortable to wear for the patient [1]. In most cases, metal clamps are not required. The high elasticity of the latex material makes it easy to work the rubber dam between the contact points and therefore simplifies tooth isolation [1].

If you would like to know what Dr Brady (USA) considers to be a “friendlier version of a rubber dam” and find out about the advantages of using the OptraDam Plus, we recommend that you watch this short video!


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