Island Sexual Health Society Be informed, not surprised!

Using oral (dental) dams for safer oral sex

2006 June 20

An oral or dental dam is a thin, rectangular sheet 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 oral dam, or you can make one yourself out of a condom.

Get or make oral (dental) dams

You can buy oral dams at:

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

How to Make an Oral Dam (to be used as a physical barrier between mouth and genital or anal area)

You can use:

  • an inside/internal (female) condom (made of polyurethane, so good for latex allergies!)
  • an outside/external (male) condom lubricated, (non-lubricated, coloured, textured or flavoured for extra fun!)
  • Non-microwavable saran wrap instead of a condom….do not use microwavable saran wrap because the pores are large enough to allow viruses and bacteria to pass through.
  • A disposable medical glove could also be used as an barrier (simply cut the 3 middle fingers and cut the glove up the palm leaving the thumb and little finger to be used to cover the index finder of each hand to hold it in place. The mouth will be placed in the palm of the glove)
  1. Check expiry date on condom package
  2. Open Condom Pkg and take out condom with clean hands
  3. Unroll the condom (if using an inside condom -remove & discard the top ring)
  4. Cut or tear tip of condom off 
  5. Cut or tear down one side of condom
  6. Fold open
  7. Follow how to use steps below

Important Reminders: 

  • Only use one side of the dam – Never flip it over; use a new one instead
  • Be sure to use a new dam for each new area of the body you choose to explore.

How to use a oral (dental) dam for safer oral sex

As with all sex safety barriers, oral 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.

Oral dam instructions:

  1. Check Expiry Date on package
  2. Open package with clean hands
  3. If desired, apply a water based lubricant to area of body or the underside of dam before putting the dam in place. This may increase sensation and prevent friction during oral sex.
  4. Place the dam flat over the desired area, completely covering the area.
  5. Have one of the partners hold the dam firmly in place with clean hands, being careful not to let it flip over. Some people mark one side with a pen ahead of time to make it easy to keep track.
  6. Place mouth on top of dam covering the area
  7. When finished wrap the used dam in tissue and discard it in the garbage.
  8. Wash your hands.

Important Reminders:

  • Only use one side of the dam – never flip it over! Use a new one instead
  • Be sure to use a new dam for each new area of the body you choose to explore
  • Store oral 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.