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Dental dams: What are they and how to use them?

Dental dams protect us from sexually transmitted infections during oral sex. They are easy to use and can significantly reduce the risk of STI transmission when used consistently and correctly.

Edited By: India TV Health Desk New Delhi Published on: April 02, 2023 11:00 IST
Dental dams
Image Source : FREEPIK Dental dams: What are they and how to use them?

A dental dam is a thin and flexible sheet made from latex or polyurethane used to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during oral sex. They are usually rectangular in shape, designed to be placed over the vulva or anus, and form a barrier between the mouth and genitals. It cannot be used to prevent pregnancy. By using a dental dam, you can lower the risk of spreading or catching STIs that can be carried in bodily fluids. Condoms can be used as dental dams for protection during oral sex involving the vagina or anus.

Why is it advised to use a dental dam?

Dental dams and condoms both serve as barriers to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, hepatitis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during sexual activity. However, it's important to note that dental dams cannot provide protection against STIs that can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and pubic lice. 

Things to know when using dental dam

Here are some Dos for Using Dental Dams During Oral Sex:

  • Do use a new dental dam when engaging in oral sex
  • Do check the date of expiry before using..
  • Do make sure the dental dam isn’t torn or defected.
  • Do put it on before engaging with your partner and keep it on until finished.
  • Do use lubricants that are either silicone based or water based to prevent breakage. 

5 Don'ts for Using Dental Dams During Oral Sex:

  • Don’t reuse a dental dam.
  • Don’t stretch a dental dam, as it might get torn.
  • Don’t use nonoxynol-9 (a spermicide), as it might lead to irritation.
  • Don’t use oil-based lubricants like lotion, baby oil, petroleum jelly, etc. 
  • Don’t flush dental dams down the toilet as they may clog pipes.

How to use a dental dam the proper way?

To use a dental dam, open the package carefully and take it out. Place it flat over the vaginal area or anus before oral sex. After you are finished, throw away the used dental dam in the trash.

Using a dental dam during oral sex is an effective way to reduce the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV. By using dental dams consistently and correctly, individuals can protect themselves and their partners from the potential harms of STIs, and promote a safer, healthier sexual experience.


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