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Prevention
Dental Dams

Dental dams are small, thin, square pieces of latex that are used for oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex. They get their name from their use in dental procedures. Dental dams prevent STDs during oral sex by keeping vaginal and anal fluids that contain bacteria and viruses away from the mouth. They come in a variety of sizes and flavors - so you can find a dam that satisfies your tastes.

Dental dams prevent many STDs, such as herpes, genital warts and HIV, that can be transmitted through oral sex. Like condoms, dental dams must be used correctly and consistently in order to be effective.

Although it may seem a little awkward to use them at first, dental dams are extremely easy to use. Before using the dam you may want to rinse off any powder that's on the dam and check the dam to make sure there are no holes or tears. Hold the dam against the vulva or anus of your partner before you have oral sex. Using lube before putting on the dam can make it feel better for your partner. Use water-based lube (K-Y® or Astroglide®) because oil-based lubes (Vaseline® or baby oil) and lotions can weaken the latex and decrease the dam's effectiveness.

When you use the dental dam, be sure to ONLY use one side. Don't flip the dam over for another round because you will expose yourself to the very fluids you're trying to avoid! And do not re-use a dam on another body part (e.g. from anus to vulva or vice-versa) because you can transfer germs from one body area to another. Do not re-use a dam for another act of oral sex later on either. Dams are for one-time use only.

Many people believe using a dam will take the joy out of oral sex. That's not how it has to be! Granted, the feeling of latex will be different than a tongue, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Using a dental dam with lube can offer your partner a new type of stimulation. Although oral sex is considered less risky than vaginal or anal sex, there is still a risk of transmitting STDs. To be as safe as possible, use a dental dam for every act of oral sex.

If you don’t have a dental dam you can make one out of a male or female condom, latex glove, or non-microwavable Saran Wrap. To make a dental dam out of a condom, simply cut off the tip and cut down one side. To make a dental dam out of a latex glove, cut off the finger and cut down one side. If using Saran™ wrap, it is important that it be non-microwavable because the pores in microwaveable Saran™ wrap are large enough to allow viruses and bacteria to pass through.

How to put on a condom

Female condoms

Dental dams

Condom do’s and don’ts

How to talk with your partner about condoms and safer sex


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