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Dental dams and other barriers

Dental dams and medical gloves are a good way to lower the chance of getting or passing STIs and other infections. These are available in pharmacies, medical supply stores, sex shops and sexual health clinics. Supplies can also be ordered online.
  • A dental dam is a piece of thin latex that is placed over the vagina/internal genitals or anus during oral sex to protect against many STIs.
  • Medical gloves can be worn when touching or penetrating the anus or the vagina with fingers.
  • An external condom cut length-ways can be used in the same way as a dental dam.

How to use dental dams

  • Before you use the dam, hold it up to light and check for holes
  • Rinse it gently with warm water to remove powder
  • Hold the dam over the genitals or anus
  • Be sure that only one side of the dam touches the genitals or anus
  • Use a new dam each time you have oral sex
  • Use a different dam for the anal area and the genital area 
  • Use lubricant on the genitals or anus to improve sensation
  • Throw the dam in the garbage.

Non-microwaveable plastic food wrap is sometimes used in place of a dental dam. These products have not been tested for STI protection.


Island Sexual Health Society – Using dental dams for safer oral sex
Options for Sexual Health – Oral barriers
US Centres for Disease Control – How to use a dental dam

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