Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Using dental (oral) dams for safer oral sex

2006 June 20

A dental or oral dam is a thin, rectangular sheet of latex rubber that you can use during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs)

You can buy a ready made dental dam, or you can make one yourself out of a condom.

Where to get dental dams
How to use a dental dam for safer oral sex

Get or make dental dams

You can buy dental dams at:

  • our ISHS clinics (we even have flavoured dams)
  •  most sexual health clinics
  • AIDS Vancouver Island
  • online sex safety shops
  • local sex shops
  • some drug stores, although they are not very common yet

To make  your own dental/oral dam, cut off the tip (closed end) and the ring of a condom (open end), then cut down the length of the condom. Voila! You have a latex rectangle just like a store-bought dental dam.

 How to use a dental dam for safer oral sex

As with all sex safety barriers, dental dams are used to prevent sharing bodily fluids between people in order to lower the risk of transmitting infections. It’s important to use each dam only once, and to never flip it over.

Dental dam instructions:

  • Optionally, apply a water based lubricant to vaginal or anal areas before putting the dam in place. This may increase sensation and prevent friction during oral sex.
  • Before oral sex, place the dental dam flat over the vagina or anus, completely covering the area.
  • Hold the dam in place during oral sex, and don’t let it flip over. Some people mark one side with a pen to make it easy to keep track.
  • Use each dam only once, then throw it out and wash your hands.
  • Be sure to use a new dam if switching between oral-anal and oral-vaginal sex.

Store dental dams in a cool dry place at room temperature, keeping them away from direct sunlight (just like condoms).

hand holding a pink latex oral dam

Oral dams like the one pictured here reduce the risk of herpes transmission during oral sex.