A dental dam (sometimes called an oral dam) is a piece of latex or polyurethane that can be used as barrier protection during oral sex. Using a dental dam may reduce your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV, and HPV (human papillomavirus).
As the name suggests, dental dams are used in dentistry as well, and protect patients from bacteria during dental procedures.
Dental dams should be used whenever there is mouth-to-genital contact.
Dental dams are simple to use.
- Remove the sheet from the packaging and inspect it to make sure there are no rips or tears.
- Place the sheet so that it covers the area to be stimulated (usually the anus or a woman’s genitals). You or your partner may need to hold the dam in place.
- Throw away the sheet when finished.
To use dental dams safely, remember to:
- Use the dental dam only once. Do not flip it over and use it again.
- Don’t stretch the dental dam.
- If the dam breaks during sexual activity, stop and get a new one before continuing.
- Some people use a lubricant to help keep the dam in place. If you use a lubricant, make sure it is water- or silicon-based. Oil-based lubricants can cause dams to break.
Dental dams can be purchased online, in some pharmacies, and in sex shops.
You can also make one from a condom:
- With clean scissors, cut off the tip of the condom so that you have a tube.
- Make another cut down the side to create a square or rectangular piece.
- Use this piece as described on Slide 2.
To learn more about oral sex, please see these links:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Dental Dam Use”
(Page last reviewed: August 12, 2016)
“Everything You Need to Know About Using a Dental Dam”
(May 3, 2018)
“What Is a Dental Dam, and Do You *Really* Need to Use One?”
(August 17, 2018)
“What is a Dental Dam?”
(Last modified: April 18, 2019)
“What Is A Dental Dam—And Why Would You Need One?”
(November 12, 2018)