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Dental dams and other barriers

A dental dam is a piece of thin latex that is placed over the vagina/internal genitals or anus during oral sex. It can also be called a latex barrier/sheet, latex dam, oral dam or sheet.

Dental dams are a good way to lower the chance of getting or passing sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Medical gloves can also be used to prevent STIs when penetrating sexual partner(s).

They are usually available in pharmacies, medical supply stores, sex shops and sexual health clinics. Supplies can also be ordered online. 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 vagina/internal genitals or anus
  • Be sure that only one side of the dam touches the vagina/internal genitals or anus
  • Use a new dam each time you have oral sex
  • Use a different dam for the anal area and the vagina/internal genital area
  • Use lubricant on the vagina/internal genitals or anus to improve sensation
  • Dispose of 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.

Resources

Island Sexual Health Society – Using dental dams for safer oral sex
Halifax Sexual Health Centre – How to use and make a dental dam from a condom and from a glove


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