Sex Tips, SEXducation

Using Dental Dams for Safe Oral Sex: Protecting Your Intimate Health

Dental dams

Hey there, let’s talk about something essential—dental dams. No, we’re not discussing a trip to the dentist. We’re diving into the world of dental dams, a tool that can help keep your oral sex adventures not just pleasurable but also safe.

What Are Dental Dams?

First things first, what’s a dental dam? It’s not a tooth-related device; it’s a thin sheet made of latex or polyurethane that serves as a protective barrier during oral sex. Think of it as your shield against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when engaging in mouth-to-vagina or mouth-to-anus play.

Using Dental Dams: Dos and Don’ts

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of dental dam usage with some straightforward dos and don’ts:


  1. Always Use a Fresh One: Every time you’re up for oral sex, grab a new dental dam.
  2. Check the Expiration Date: Be sure to glance at the package to ensure it’s not expired.
  3. Inspect for Tears: Before using it, check for any defects or tears.
  4. Wear It From Start to Finish: Put it on before starting oral sex and leave it on until you’re done.
  5. Lubricate Smartly: Apply water-based or silicone-based lubricant to prevent breakage.
  6. Storage Matters: Keep your dental dams in a cool, dry place.


  1. No Reusing: Dental dams are a one-time thing. Never reuse them.
  2. Don’t Stretch It: Stretching a dental dam can lead to tears, so avoid doing it.
  3. Skip Spermicides: Say no to nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide) as it can cause irritation.
  4. Oil-Based No-Go: Using oil-based products like baby oil, lotion, or petroleum jelly can break the dental dam, so avoid them.
  5. Toilet Trouble: Don’t flush dental dams down the toilet; it might clog it.

How to Use a Dental Dam: A Step-By-Step Guide

Using a dental dam is simple, but it’s essential to do it right to avoid any mishaps. Here’s how:

  1. Carefully Unpack It: Open the dental dam package with care, ensuring you don’t damage it in the process.
  2. Lay It Flat: Place the dental dam flat over the vaginal or anal area. For oral-vaginal sex, cover the vulva, and for oral-anal sex, shield the anus.
  3. Hold It Steady: Keep the dental dam in place while engaging in oral sex. Using some water-based or silicone-based lubricant between the dental dam and your skin can enhance comfort and pleasure.
  4. Be Cautious: If the dental dam slips or breaks during play, pause and replace it with a fresh one before continuing.
  5. Dispose of it Properly: After use, toss the dental dam into the trash; flushing it is a no-no.

Types of Dental Dams

Now, let’s talk about the different types of dental dams. Most are made of latex, but if you or your partner has a latex allergy, there are polyurethane options available. Dental dams come in various sizes, colors, and even flavors. Some are unflavored, catering to diverse preferences.

Where to Find Dental Dams

You might not find dental dams as easily as condoms in your local drugstore. However, they are readily available online, making it convenient for you to access this crucial protection. Typically, dental dams cost around $1 to $2 each.

DIY Dental Dam

In case you can’t find a dental dam, don’t worry; you can craft one using a condom. Here’s how:

  1. Open the condom package and unroll it.
  2. Carefully snip off the tip of the condom.
  3. Cut off the rolled rubber base of the condom.
  4. Slice the condom lengthwise from tip to base.
  5. Lay the flattened condom over the vaginal or anal area.
What Dental Dams Protect Against

Dental dams provide protection against specific STIs, reducing the risk of transmission. These include:

  • Syphilis: A bacterial infection that progresses through various stages if left untreated.
  • Gonorrhea: Another bacterial infection that can affect the genitals, throat, or anus.
  • Chlamydia: One of the most common STIs, often asymptomatic.
  • Hepatitis: A viral infection that can lead to liver damage and cancer.
  • HIV: A virus causing AIDS, weakening the immune system.

Additionally, dental dams can protect against contact with fecal matter during oral-anal sex, reducing the risk of infections like Shigella and E. Coli.

What Dental Dams Don’t Protect Against

While dental dams are excellent for preventing fluid exchange during oral sex, they don’t guard against STIs transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. These include:

  • HPV: A widespread STI with various types affecting genitals, rectum, and anus.
  • Genital Herpes: Caused by herpes simplex type 2, leading to painful blisters.
  • Pubic Lice: Tiny insects that infest pubic hair, causing itching.
Dos and Don’ts Recap

Here’s a quick recap of dental dam dos and don’ts:

Dos: Always use a new dental dam, check the expiration date, inspect for tears, wear it throughout, use lubricants, store it properly, and dispose of it correctly.

Don’t: Don’t reuse, stretch, or use spermicides. Avoid oil-based products and flushing.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) –

1. What is a dental dam used for?

  • Dental dams are thin, flexible sheets made of latex or polyurethane used as a barrier during oral sex. They provide protection by preventing direct contact between the mouth and the genitals or anus, reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

2. Can you close your mouth with a dental dam?

  • Yes, you can close your mouth with a dental dam in place. Dental dams are designed to be held in position during oral sex, allowing you to provide pleasure while maintaining a protective barrier.

3. Can you swallow with a dental dam?

  • Yes, you can swallow and speak with a dental dam in place. It covers only the area of concern, ensuring protection while allowing for normal oral activities.

4. Do dental dams prevent pregnancy?

  • Dental dams are not a contraceptive method and do not prevent pregnancy. They are primarily used to reduce the risk of STIs during oral sex. If pregnancy prevention is needed, consider using other forms of contraception.

5. Should I use a dental dam with my wife?

  • The use of dental dams is a personal choice based on your and your partner’s preferences and concerns. If either partner has STIs or there are concerns about protection, using dental dams during oral sex can be a responsible decision, regardless of your relationship status.

6. What is the disadvantage of dental dams?

  • One potential disadvantage of dental dams is that they may reduce some tactile sensations during oral sex. However, this disadvantage is outweighed by their ability to provide protection against STIs.

7. How thick is a dental dam?

  • Dental dams are typically thin and flexible. They are designed to provide protection while allowing for sensitivity and pleasure. The thickness may vary slightly between different brands and materials.

8. Can dental dams damage teeth?

  • Dental dams are not known to damage teeth when used correctly. They are designed to be gentle on both the mouth and the area being protected. Ensuring that the dental dam is properly positioned can help prevent discomfort.

9. How do you remove a dental dam?

  • To remove a dental dam, simply grasp one end of the dam and carefully pull it away from the area it was covering. Dispose of the used dental dam in a trash receptacle.

10. Are dental dams better than condoms?

  • Dental dams and condoms serve different purposes. Condoms are designed for penile-vaginal or penile-anal intercourse and provide contraception as well as STI protection. Dental dams are specifically used during oral sex to reduce the risk of STIs. The choice between them depends on the sexual activity and the protection required.

11. Is dental dam important?

  • Dental dams play a crucial role in reducing the risk of STIs during oral sex. Their importance lies in providing a barrier that helps protect both partners. If you engage in oral sex and want to minimize STI transmission, dental dams are an important tool to consider.

12. How do you make a dental dam at home?

  • While it is possible to make a dental dam from a condom by cutting it open and creating a flat sheet, it is advisable to use commercially available dental dams for reliability and safety. Making one at home may not provide the same safety.
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