Rubber dam refers to a soft latex sheet that is attached to a contaminated tooth or teeth prior to treatment that is meant to prevent further contamination of the tooth through saliva which contains bacteria. It is most commonly used in root canal procedures filling and inlay/onlay installations. The rubber dam is held by a clamp and frame and is a legal requirement for procedures that require its use.
A rubber dam provides medical advantages for the dentist as it creates a dry working area for them to work in. This allows the dentist to not worry about further bacteria from saliva entering affected teeth and prevents possible damage occurring to the tongue and other oral structures. For the patient it provides them the luxury of not having to concentrate on keeping their mouths open or positioning their tongue during treatment. It also ensures that debris or tiny dental instruments will not be swallowed.