To investigate the attitudes of final year dental students in Wales and Ireland to the use of rubber dam.
A pre-piloted questionnaire was distributed to final year dental students in Cardiff and Cork Dental Schools in January 2008. Information sought included attitudes to, and the current and anticipated use of, rubber dam for a variety of operative and endodontic treatments.
Of 93 questionnaires distributed, 87 were completed and returned (response rate = 94%; Cardiff: 89%, n = 51; Cork: 100%, n = 36). Rubber dam was routinely used by 98% of respondents (n = 85) on adult patients, but only 32% of respondents (n = 28) had used rubber dam on child patients (P < 0.05). Rubber dam was never used by 75% of respondents (n = 65) when placing posterior amalgam restorations, and by 21% of respondents (n = 18) when placing anterior composite restorations. Rubber dam was used by 98% of the respondents (n = 85) when performing root canal treatments. Sixty-two per cent of respondents (n = 54) believed their use of rubber dam would decrease once leaving the dental school.
Whilst dental students believe that rubber dam is relevant to clinical dentistry, there are negative perceptions associated with its use amongst dental students. More than half of those questioned predicted their use of rubber dam would decrease once in independent practice. Greater emphasis should be placed on the advantages of using rubber dam in clinical dentistry whilst at dental school.