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Dental Dams

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Updated May 31, 2014

Dental Dams

Dental Dams

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey
Definition: Dental dams are a barrier method that can protect against HIV and other STDs. Dental dams were originally made as medical devices used by dentists to maintain a sterile work area when they were drilling and filling teeth. Now, dental dams are also used during oral-vaginal sex and oral-anal sex since these types of sex can spread STDs through vaginal fluid or blood exchange if one of the partners is infected.

Dental dams are usually made from latex (although latex-free kinds are available for those with latex allergies). Usually, dental dams consist of a small square or rectangle of material and are designed for single use.

During oral sex, dental dams should be placed between your mouth and the vagina. During anal sex, dental dams are placed between your mouth and the anus as a barrier that could also help protect against parasites.

Dental dams should only be used one time and on one area of the body before being thrown away. You should never flip (or turn over) already used dental dams because that could result in the exchange of body fluids. Dental dams can also be used with lubricants for increased sensation. You can also put a bit of lubricant (that isn't oil based) on the side of the dental dam that touches the skin to keep the latex from sticking. Companies have also created flavored dental dams as a way to encourage their use.

You can buy dental dams from some drugstores, online and from various public health departments. Unfortunately though, many people report that dental dams may be hard to find, and they can also be somewhat expensive. The good news though, is that dental dams are easy to make at home – all you need is a condom and scissors.

Some people use Saran wrap as makeshift dental dams; but, there is little to no research about their effectiveness. So, in actuality, this material may not be effective at all.

Pronunciation: den·tal (dĕn'tl) dams (dãms)
Also Known As: When used for safer sex, dental dams may be called oral dams, rubber dams and oral condoms. Many companies make both types of dental dams (fo sex and for dentists), selling them with different packaging depending on the target market.
Examples:
People use dental dams during oral sex to protect against vagial fluids.

To Make Dental Dams:

  1. Unroll a condom
  2. Cut off the tip
  3. Cut down one side of the condom
You now have a latex rectangle dental dam to use during oral or anal sex.

When making your own dental dams, it may be better to use a non-lubricated latex condom (as condoms lubricated with spermicide may taste bad or make your tongue numb). You can also choose to make dental dams from flavored condoms or from condoms and lubricants designed specifically for use during oral sex.

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