A dental dam, as it is commonly called, is a thin sheet of latex used as a barrier method to help prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during oral/vaginal or oral/anal contact.
WHAT IS IT?
A dental dam is a thin, rectangular piece of latex that can be placed over the vulva (outside of vagina) or anus to create a barrier during oral stimulation. Originally used by dentists during oral surgery, a latex barrier such as a dental dam can help provide protection to both partners from STIs during oral stimulation.
WHERE DO I GET IT?
Dental dams are not always easy to purchase. Dental dams are carried in some drug stores, some family planning clinics, novelty stores, and can be purchased online. Should a person be unable to find a dental dam, non-microwaveable plastic wrap or an unlubricated latex condom cut down the side can also provide a barrier during oral stimulation.
HOW DO I USE IT?
Lay the dental dam flat, over the entire vulva covering both the vaginal opening and clitoris. For oral/anal stimulation, lay the dental dam flat, covering the anus. Do not stretch the dental dam. Someone will need to hold the edges of the dental dam in place. The vulva or anal area can be moistened with a water-based lubricant such as K-Y jelly before putting the dam in place. DO NOT use an oil-based lubricant like Vaseline, as it will break down the latex. A new dental dam should be used for every act of oral stimulation.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
o There are no side effects associated with the use of dental dams
o Those who have latex allergies can use a plastic barrier such as non-microwaveable plastic wrap
o Using a plastic barrier may decrease the effectiveness of STI prevention
HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
Currently, there are few statistics available for the effectiveness of dental dams. However, when used as a barrier method for oral/vaginal or oral/anal stimulation, dental dams can help reduce the risk of STIs.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE METHOD?
Advantages to using a dental dam:
o Provides some protection against STIs
o Can be used on a vulva or anus
Disadvantages of using a dental dam:
o May be difficult to find
o Can lower sensitivity
o May be difficult to hold in place
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Dental dams cost about $1.25 each. They can be purchased individually or in multiples. Dental dams also come in a variety of colors and flavors.