What are rubber dams and why do dentists use them?

What are rubber dams?

Rubber dams are small sheets of latex that dentists use while performing selected dental procedures. Imagine a surgery in the operating theatre, you’d see the patient anaesthetized, heavily covered with drapes all over their body, save for that one area the surgeon will be performing the surgery on, this is known as the operating field. Think of the rubber dam as the mini version of the drapes, used to isolate the operating field (read, teeth) inside the mouth.

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When do dentists use rubber dam?

Common procedures include:

  • Root canal treatment (the gold standard)
  • Tooth-coloured fillings
  • Bonding of crowns, bridge or veneers


What are the benefits of using rubber dam for the dentist and patient?

For the dentist For the patient
Keeps the operating field dry and free of blood or saliva More durable and longer lasting fillings, crowns, veneers and bridge.
Prevents the treated area from being exposed to bacteria in your saliva and oral cavity. Lower chances of contamination translate to higher rate of success following any dental treatment.
Protects the tongue and gums from irritation that could otherwise occur during treatment.
Prevents the possibility of any materials or chemicals falling into your mouth or being ingested during treatment.


As shown in the table above, using a rubber dam can benefit both parties in many ways. It helps protect the patient from any additional health issues while making the time and money invested in the procedure more worthwhile. Although the benefits for the dentists doesn’t seem like much, trust us, that’s all we need to be stress-free during our work.  Additionally, dentists love it when our patients are so relaxed they take a nap during the procedure!

If the benefits outweigh the disadvantage, why don’t all dentists use them?

  • At patient’s refusal, i.e. Discomfort, latex allergy
  • Slightly more time consuming depending on the size of the operating field

In a nutshell

At KL City Dentists, in line with our mission to provide high quality dental care and services for our patients, we advocate the use of rubber dams during appropriate procedures. It’s just another way we help make your visit stress-free and successful. Contact us today to set up your next dental check-up or treatment.



Dr May Thandar Nwe



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