Rubber dams are often used to isolate a tooth that is receiving a root canal or being built up for a crown to be placed. After local anesthetic is placed, the dam is placed into the patient's mouth and clipped onto the gums around the tooth. The dam is usually held in place with a metal frame, allowing the patient to slightly relax their jaw while maintaining an open mouth that the dentist can work in.
While many patients feel comfortable with a rubber dam in place, if you have never had one in your mouth or if you usually breath through your mouth as opposed to your nose, you may feel slightly claustrophobic when the dam is first placed. Here are a few tips to breathing easier if your dentist will be using a rubber dam.
Have a Discussion About the Dam Before It Is Placed
Before your dentist begins placing the rubber dam, you should ask them how it works and express any concerns you may have. Because the dam will block a large portion of your mouth, it will be difficult to ask any questions or express concerns once it is in place.
Practice Breathing Before the Procedure Begins
There are two main types of dental dams. One is placed with a metal frame, which holds the dam in place and makes it less likely that the dam with fall on your lips, creating a seal. The second has no metal frame and is more likely to create a seal around your lips, forcing you to breath through your nose. Whichever one your dentist will be using, you should practice taking deep, even breaths through your nose while the dam is in place before your dentist begins working on the isolated tooth. This will allow you to concentrate on breathing with no distractions and let your dentist know if you have any issues.
Create a Sign to Signal That You Need a Break
Since it will be difficult to talk with a dam in your mouth, you should create a way to signal to your dentist that you need a break before they begin. A common signal is for you to raise your hand, but you may be more comfortable blinking several times or creating a different signal.
Any time your dentist will be using a new instrument or tool, you should make sure you understand how it will be used and discuss any concerns you have before the procedure begins. Talk to a dentist like those at Leidenheimer Dental Group Inc if you have additional concerns about rubber dams.