Successful restorations in dental patients depend largely on the effective control of moisture and microbes during the procedure. The rubber dam technique has been one of the most widely used isolation methods in dental restorative treatments. The evidence on the effects of rubber dam usage on the longevity of dental restorations is conflicting. Therefore, it is important to summarise the available evidence to determine the effects of this method.
To assess the effects of rubber dam isolation compared with other types of isolation used for direct and indirect restorative treatments in dental patients.
We searched the following electronic databases: Cochrane Oral Health's Trials Register (searched 17 August 2016), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2016, Issue 7) in the Cochrane Library (searched 17 August 2016), MEDLINE Ovid (1946 to 17 August 2016), Embase Ovid (1980 to 17 August 2016), LILACS BIREME Virtual Health Library (Latin American and Caribbean Health Science Information database; 1982 to 17 August 2016), SciELO BIREME Virtual Health Library (1998 to 17 August 2016), Chinese BioMedical Literature Database (CBM, in Chinese) (1978 to 30 August 2016), VIP (in Chinese) (1989 to 30 August 2016), and China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI, in Chinese) (1994 to 30 August 2016). We searched ClinicalTrials.gov and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, OpenGrey and Sciencepaper Online (in Chinese) for ongoing trials. There were no restrictions on the language or date of publication when searching the electronic databases.
We included randomised controlled trials (including split-mouth trials) assessing the effects of rubber dam isolation for restorative treatments in dental patients.
Two review authors independently screened the results of the electronic searches, extracted data and assessed the risk of bias of the included studies. We resolved disagreement by discussion.
We included four studies that analysed 1270 participants (among which 233 participants were lost to follow-up). All the included studies were at high risk of bias. We excluded one trial from the analysis due to inconsistencies in the presented data.The results indicated that dental restorations had a significantly higher survival rate in the rubber dam isolation group compared to the cotton roll isolation group at six months in participants receiving composite restorative treatment of non-carious cervical lesions (risk ratio (RR) 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04 to 1.37, very low-quality evidence). It also showed that the rubber dam group had a lower risk of failure at two years in children undergoing proximal atraumatic restorative treatment in primary molars (hazard ratio (HR) 0.80, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.97, very low-quality evidence). One trial reported limited data showing that rubber dam usage during fissure sealing might shorten the treatment time. None of the included studies mentioned adverse effects or reported the direct cost of the treatment, or the level of patient acceptance/satisfaction. There was also no evidence evaluating the effects of rubber dam usage on the quality of the restorations.
We found some very low-quality evidence, from single studies, suggesting that rubber dam usage in dental direct restorative treatments may lead to a lower failure rate of the restorations, compared with the failure rate for cotton roll usage. Further high quality research evaluating the effects of rubber dam usage on different types of restorative treatments is required.