What are dental dams all about?

When it comes to sex barriers, condoms seem to get all the praise. This leaves other tools for sexual health in the dust, like dental dams.

Even though I teach people about sex, I don't know much about dental dams. So when a gay friend of mine asked about using them, it got my attention, and I knew that other people would be interested in the same thing.

So, dental dams, now is your chance to show us what you're all about!

What Does a Dental Dam Do?

No, it's not something your dentist uses to fix your teeth. However, they may use them to protect themselves during dental procedures. It does more than just protect that.

A dental dam is a way to protect the mouth during oral sex. Most of the time, they are made of polyurethane or latex.

They are basically a sheet that goes over the opening of the vagina or anus when oral sex is happening.

What Benefits Do Dental Dams Have?

The biggest benefit of dental dams is that they stop sexually transmitted infections from spreading. They are mostly used for oral sex, and they protect against many STIs and pubic lice, including herpes, HPV, HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis.

Many people think that penetrative sex is the only way STIs can be spread, but oral sex can also do this.

Not only do they help prevent STIs, but they are also used for rim jobs, which are things that are spread through oral-anal sex. When you use your mouth to stimulate someone's anus, you might come into contact with feces that has bacteria like E. coli or Shigella or intestinal parasites. Dental dams help keep this from happening.

Because they are used in oral sex, dental dams are more popular in queer communities. Still, this safety measure is helpful for everyone, no matter who they are having sex with.

You can use dental dams with lube like a condom. It's recommended to help keep things from breaking. Just make sure it's made of water or silicone so it doesn't break down the dental dam material like oil-based products can. Find out more about how to choose the best lube for you.

Are there any bad things about dental dams?

If you're allergic to latex, don't use just any dental dam. There are a lot of dental dams on the market that don't use latex and are safe for people with allergies. You might just have to plan ahead and order online or make your own with a condom that is safe for people with allergies. There's more about this at the end of this article.

Dental dams shouldn't be used to prevent pregnancy because they are meant for oral sex, not to stop pregnancy.

To fully avoid STIs, you should use a new dental dam every time you have oral sex. You should put it on before you start and leave it on until you're done. Don't stretch the dental dam, because that could cause it to break.

Just like with a condom, you want to make sure there are no tears or other problems and that you've checked the expiration date. Most dental dams can be used for about five years. Make sure to keep them in a cool, dry place so they don't break down as quickly.

If you're using a dental dam, don't flip it over once it's touched the person's anus or vagina, because that could let you get exposed to the fluids you're trying to keep away. If the dental dam moves while you're having sex, you or your partner may need to hold it in place.

Another problem with dental dams is that people may not like them. Some people prefer completely clear dental dams so they can see what they are doing. Like with condoms, some people may not like how the dental dam tastes. Many different companies make them with different flavors, and you can always try a flavored lube with it.

DIY Dental Dams

Even though it might seem risky, dental dams can be used to make a sexual barrier method. You may have heard of people making their own dental dams out of rubber gloves or saran wrap, but if you do this, choose condoms that are already made to protect against STIs.

Do you want to be clever?

On the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can find a step-by-step guide with pictures. All you need is a condom, a pair of scissors, and steady hands.

Carefully open the package and unroll the condom.

Just below the pointy end, cut off the tip of the condom.

Cut the condom off at the bottom, above where it is rolled.

Cut one side of the tube open.

Lay flat over the anus or the opening of the womb.

Voila! You now have a homemade dental dam.



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