“A dental dam is a thin, flexible, square piece of latex that helps prevent the spread of STDs and other germs during oral sex. Dental dams are easy to use. Place one over your or your partner’s vulva and/or anus so that it creates a barrier between the mouth and genitals,” according to plannedparenthood.org.
Other names for a dental dam include sex dam, oral dam, oral barrier and Sheer Glyde dam. A dental dam is not a female condom, and is used for oral sex involving contact between the mouth and the vagina, anus or penis.
Dental dams are not as well-known as condoms, but a dental dam can be made out of a condom, has the same precautions for which lubricant to use, is one-use only, and carries the same latex sensitivity risk.
The sourced articles below should provide you more information on dental dams.
- DIY Dental Dam
“Dental dams are a barrier method to place between the mouth and genitals to prevent STIs from bodily fluids. It’s so simple. A square piece of latex or polyurethane (a fancy word for plastic), you can make your own dental dam from the aforementioned condoms.”
Online Resource, stdtriage.com, accessed on 6/21/2018; (Broken link removed 9/2022)
- Everything You Need to Know About Using A Dental Dam
“If you or a partner have a latex allergy, you can look for dental dams made from other materials, such as polyurethane. A dental dam is more expensive than a condom; one dental dam is typically $1 to $2. Some family planning or sexual health clinics stock dental dams and offer them for free, so check there before placing an order.”
Kimberly Holland, Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, PhD, LCSW, CST, healthline.com, 5/3/2018
- The Lorals Dental Dam Shows Why It’s So Hard To Make Good Safe Sex Products
“Many queer and transgender people who use dental dams do so because safer oral sex is ‘something you do to show that you care about your partners,’ even if STI risk is known to be low, says Chris Barcelos, an assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who researches queer safer sex practices. Barcelos’ research suggests that dental dams aren’t more popular with queer people because oral sex carries more risk for them than it does for straight people. They’re more popular because the queer community places a higher priority on safer oral sex than the mainstream, straight world does.”
Lux Alptraum, theverge.com, 4/26/2018
- Dental Dams Should Be Used By Everyone – Here’s Why
“Dental dams – despite being super-vital to safe sex – still seem to be a bit of a mystery. Sure, we all know about condoms (you’re having cringe flashbacks to condoms on carrots as you read this, right?). But did you know dental dams are equally as necessary to have in your bedside drawer/wallet/backpack.”
Paisley Gilmour, cosmopolitan.com, 4/13/2018
- Lorals Lingerie Is Made For Oral Sex & It Helps In A Big Way
“This summer, there will be a new product on the market that keeps oral sex hygienic and safe, while also keeping it sexy. Introducing Lorals, the world’s first latex lingerie. These smartly designed panties actually enable you to keep your panties on when engaging in cunnilingus or analingus — and look good doing it. … It’s also pending FDA approval for the prevention of STIs. … The FDA has not yet approved Lorals as a method of STI prevention, although the underwear was manufactured using the FDA’s recommended materials and standards.”
Cosmo Luce, elitedaily.com, 4/7/2018
- Scented Latex Underwear To Improve “Freshness” For Oral Sex? It’s A Vagina, Not A Yankee Candle.
“The people at Lorals believe that 80% of women have said no to oral sex when they really meant yes due to cleanliness reasons. I can’t find a published study to back up the 80% claim. Of course reasons for women saying no to oral sex could also be that a male partner made them feel self conscious when they were just fine. This is exactly what I was writing about when I wrote the article, My vagina is terrific, your opinion about it is not. A lot of men tell a lot of women very nasty things about their normal anatomy, secretions, smell and taste. Many women’s magazines with their incessant ‘is your vagina okay???’ headlines, GOOP with their stupid ‘vaginal’ steaming, and products like Lorals just reinforce the false belief that a normal vagina is somehow unpleasant.”
Dr. Jen Gunter, drjengunter.wordpress.com, 3/6/2018
- Using A Dental Dam For Safe Oral Sex
“Since the common notion is that oral sex is safer than certain types of penetrative sex, people perceive it to have no threat to their health, especially to women who have sex with women. As a result, lesbians rarely use any type of protection during oral sex. Maybe if people are more informed about the risks of oral sex, lesbians will give greater importance to protecting their sexual health. Also, if people know the benefits of using protection, more lesbians will consider using a dental dam or other barrier methods. “
Online Resource, lesbiannews.com, 11/8/2017
- How To Make Dental Dams And Gloves Sexy As Told By A Sexpert
“A 2010 study found that less than 10% of lesbian women have ever used a dental dam, and less than 2% regularly use them. The majority of women who don’t use them say that it’s because they find them unsexy and uncool and feel like women who have sex with women aren’t really at risk for an STI anyways (spoiler: we all are). … Dental dams don’t have to be taut over the vulva or anus, they can gently be held in place. You can even snap or move it around for different sensations. If you add a drop or two of lube on the vulva or anus side of the dental dam, it will make things smoother and more pleasurable for the person receiving!”
Corinne Werder, gomag.com, 10/25/2017
- Dental Dams Will Change The Oral And Rimming You Are Having Forever
“Fortunately, here at Gay Star News, we’ve given you a head start by sitting down with Natika Halil is the Chief Executive of the sexual health charity FPA.
She tells GSN, their survey for Sexual Health Week reveals most people don’t learn about the risk of STIs during oral sex at school. Over half say they didn’t even know STIs could be passed during oral sex. This is when the dam comes in. Similar to condoms, it acts as a barrier to prevent STIs passing from one person to another.”
Charlie Mathers, gaystarnews.com, 9/27/2017; (Broken link removed 9/2022)
- What’s A Dental Dam?
“A certain brand of dam, called the Sheer Glyde dam, is FDA-approved for safer sex. But other types of dams can protect you, too. Just make sure it’s made of latex. Dams can sometimes be hard to find in stores. You can find them at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center or order them online. If there’s no dam in sight, you can cut open a condom and lay it flat on your partner’s vulva or anus.”
Emily@Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, plannedparenthood.org, 9/15/2017
- The Oral Sex Risk You’re Not Thinking About
“One STI risk factor that few people consider is having oral sex. If you say you use protection ‘all the time’ but you have unprotected oral, you don’t use protection “all the time” — simple as that. And statistically, you’re probably not using protection during oral sex. I know, I know: Condoms (obviously) taste like latex. And there is relatively little understanding of what a dental dam even is (for the record, it’s a latex or polyurethane sheet that acts as a barrier during cunnilingus or anilingus).”
Jenelle Marie Pierce, allure.com, 8/23/2017
- Dental Dams
“Dental dams work as a barrier or shield between a person’s mouth and their partner’s penis, vagina, or anus. The dental dam is held over the genital area during oral sex from beginning to end) so there is no direct contact. Using a dental dam greatly lessens the change of getting and spreading most STIs. … You can buy dental dams in most pharmacies and online. Sometimes family planning and sexual health clinics will have them available for free.”
Online Resource, youngwomenshealth.org, 8/7/2017
- The Disappearance Of The Dental Dam Illustrates How We View Female Pleasure
“In the decade since, I haven’t once met anyone who’s used a dental dam for oral sex—despite our knowledge that oral sex can transmit herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, hepatitis, and genital warts. So what’s going on here? Does using dental dams suck so much that we’ve collectively decided that ditching them is worth the health risks? Or are we all just hesitant to bring them up because we’re scared of looking like dorks?”
Online Resource, local11news.com, 7/27/2017; (Broken link removed 9/2022)
- What You Need To Know Before Using Coconut Oil As Lube
“First, there’s the fact that coconut oil—or any oil-based lube, for that matter—can mess with latex barriers like condoms and dental dams, making them more likely to break and leaving you susceptible to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, [MD Alyssa] Dweck says. Water- and silicone-based lubes, on the other hand, don’t degrade latex. If you’re using any sort of barrier that contains latex, be sure to keep that in mind.”
Zahra Barnes, self.com, 9/23/2016
- How To Use A Dental Dam As A Barrier For Oral Sex
“Dental Dam Dos and Don’ts … DO use a new latex or polyurethane dental dam every time you have oral sex. … DON’T reuse a dental dam. …”
Online Resource, cdc.gov, 8/12/2016
- The 1 Safe-Sex Method You’re Not Using, But Definitely Should Be
“That’s because they did actually originate in dental offices, which are probably the least sexy places on the face of the planet. But they can help out during extremely sexy activities. Dental dams are rectangular or square sheets of material, usually latex, that you can put between one person’s mouth and another person’s privates. … Dental dams protect against the same sexually transmitted infections as condoms, aka anything that can be transmitted through fluid, like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Zahra Barnes, self.com, 6/26/2016
- Lesbians Try On Dental Dams, And The Result Is … Not Good
“For many queer women, there’s little to grieve. Although known, informally, as the ‘lesbian condom,’ a 2010 study found estimated that less than 10% of lesbian women have ever used them, and less than 2% regularly use them. The dental dam is designed to serve as a barrier during cunnilingus and analingus. But many people — straight and queer — don’t even know what a dam is, forget how to use it.”
Heather Dockray, mashable.com, 4/2/2016
- STD Awareness: Can I Use Plastic Wrap As A Dental Dam During Oral Sex?
“Some dental-dam boosters have cited a few studies as evidence that plastic wrap can protect users from STDs. However, a closer look reveals that these studies’ results might not be applicable to plastic wrap when used as a dental dam.”
Anna C., advocatesaz.org, 1/4/2016
- Practicing Safe Oral Sex – The Scoop On Sheer [GLYDE] Latex Dams
“There is no denying it – for novices the concept of dams may seem weird at first, mostly because they are not as ubiquitously promoted as condoms as a barrier method – but using an oral dam can actually be sexy. For one thing, it adds an element of playful provocation. And – especially when water-based lubricant is applied to the side facing the female – the friction can feel great.”
Online Resource, glydeamerica.com, 8/8/2014
- Thanks To Michael Douglas, It’s A Great Day For Dental Dams
“Much maligned and often ignored, the dental dam is the ugly stepchild of STD prevention: a sheet of latex that’s used during oral sex to prevent the spread of diseases, including HPV. … They’re not ‘in high demand,’ says Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland, a sex shop with retail outlets in New York and Seattle. Cavanah says that might be because ‘cunnilingus is generally thought to be a low-risk sexual activity.'”
Eliza Shapiro, thedailybeast.com, 6/3/2013