What is a Dental Dam?


Dental Dam

A dental dam is a thin, flexible square sheet made of latex or polyurethane plastic. It acts as a barrier during oral sex, preventing direct contact with bodily fluids and reducing the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Dental dams cover the vulva or anus during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex, providing protection for both partners.

Why Use a Dental Dam?

While oral sex carries a lower risk of STI transmission compared to vaginal or anal sex, there is still a risk of contracting infections like HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia through exposure to bodily fluids. Dental dams create a protective barrier, reducing this risk significantly.

Using a dental dam is especially important when engaging in oral sex with new or multiple partners, or during menstruation when blood may be present. It’s also the safest way to engage in oral-anal sex, as fecal matter can transmit infections even after thorough cleaning.

How to Use a Dental Dam

Using a dental dam correctly is crucial for its effectiveness. Here are the steps:

  1. Check for Expiration and Damage: Ensure the dental dam is not expired and inspect for any tears or defects.
  2. Placement: Lay the dental dam flat over the vulva or anus before starting oral sex. Do not stretch the dam.
  3. Hold in Place: Hold the edges of the dam in place throughout the activity. Some dams may stay in place due to vaginal moisture or static.
  4. Use Lubricant: Apply a water-based or silicone-based lubricant to enhance sensation and prevent irritation. Avoid oil-based lubricants, as they can break down the latex.
  5. Dispose Properly: Do not reuse a dental dam. Dispose of it after one use.

Benefits of Using Dental Dams

Reduced STI Risk

Dental dams significantly lower the risk of transmitting STIs like HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia during oral sex.

Barrier Protection

They provide a physical barrier against bodily fluids, enhancing safety during oral-vaginal or oral-anal activities.

Patient Protection

In dentistry, dental dams isolate the treatment area, preventing the spread of saliva and oral bacteria, reducing the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Improved Visibility and Access

By isolating the treatment area, dental dams enhance visibility and access for dental professionals, facilitating more efficient and precise procedures.

Making Your Own Dental Dam

If you don’t have a dental dam, you can make one using a condom or a latex glove:

Using a Condom

  1. Cut Off the Tip: Remove the tip of the condom.
  2. Cut Down the Side: Cut down one side to create a flat sheet.
  3. Use as a Dental Dam: Use the flat sheet as you would a dental dam.

Using a Latex Glove

  1. Cut Off the Fingers: Remove the fingers of the glove.
  2. Cut Down the Side: Cut down one side to make it flat.
  3. Use as a Dental Dam: Use the flat sheet as a dental dam.


Dental dams are versatile tools that play a crucial role in promoting safer oral sex practices and preventing the transmission of STIs. By understanding their uses, benefits, and proper application, you can enhance your safety and well-being during oral-vaginal or oral-anal activities. Whether you’re engaging in sexual activities or undergoing dental procedures, dental dams provide an effective barrier against infections and contaminants.

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Dental Dam

What is a Dental Dam?


Discover the benefits of dental dams for safer oral sex. Our comprehensive guide covers what dental dams are, how to use them correctly, and why they're essential for reducing STI risks.