Dental dams, also known as “cavity dams,” are specialized forms of dental protective gear for use in and around the oral cavity. They prevent teeth and other tissues from being damaged by dental instruments such as drills, grinding stones, or wire combs. These protective devices are used for various dental procedures such as root canal treatments, periodontal treatment, dental implants, porcelain veneers, and orthodontic treatment. There are many types of dental dams available for different purposes, including: countertop dams for patient bridges, houses, and root canals. The following paragraphs below describe the basic parts of a dental dam, the basic purposes for which they are used, and some typical recommendations for maintenance and care.
What are dental dams? Dams, also called “cavity dams” or “rubber dams,” are primarily used to prevent teeth from being damaged by dental instruments. Dams may be used for a variety of purposes, including: countertop dams for patient bridges, houses, and root canals. Dams are also used to prevent dental materials (such as fillings or crowns) from sliding forward and out of place during oral surgery. Common materials included in dental dams include polyurethane, silicone, and latex.
Why are we using dental dams to prevent the spread of disease? Dental dams are important for many reasons. First, they help prevent the transmission of infection from one patient to another. For example, if a person has an open wound on their hand that is bleeding but only uses dental dams to “cure” the wound so that it does not leak blood, it would be difficult for the patient to consume regular food or drink blood regularly. Thus, curing the wound would allow the patient to receive contaminated food or drinkable fluids.
Second, dental dams provide a barrier between the body and the condom, ensuring that the body of any partner is protected from bloodborne diseases. For example, HIV cannot enter the body of a man who is wearing a dental dam, nor can cervical cancer cells. Condoms do not cover the vagina or anus, so a man who engages in oral sex with a woman who is at high risk would have to rely on a condom. By using dental dams, the man is guaranteed protection from blood borne pathogens, as well as from passing infectious diseases to his partner.
Finally, dental dams are convenient and practical. They usually square or rectangular, fit inside an everyday rubber glove, and are designed to be inserted and removed easily. One condom can be used for multiple partners, and multiple condoms can be stored side by side. Since condoms are typically square or rectangular, a woman would not have to discard old condoms, as can a man have to when using lube.
What are dental dams? So why are they important? As mentioned earlier, many STDs could be transmitted through vaginal, oral or anal sex, especially when one partner is not tested and practices unprotected sex. However, dental dams prevent HIV and genital infections from spreading during intercourse, as well as decreasing the risk of getting lacerations and cuts during oral sex. Furthermore, polyurethane dental dams are available at retail stores and can be used with condoms, making them even more convenient than ever.