Dental dams are thin sheets of rubber or plastic that were originally designed for use by dentists, but are useful to reduce the risk of transmitting STDs during oral genital contact, oral/vaginal contact (cunnilingus) and oral/anal contact (also called analingus or rimming). In order to be effective, dental dams have to be used properly. Here are some tips on how to use dental dams.
- Mark one side.
Most dental dams are identical on both sides. If you’re using a dental dam and drop it you want to be sure that when you put it against your partner’s body again you aren’t now licking the side that was previously in contact with their genitals. Doing that defeats the purpose of the dam. One way to prevent this is to make a little mark in the corner of the dam on the side facing you. Another option is just to use another dam if you drop it.
- Lube up.
You can increase the sensitivity for your partner by putting some lube on their body before you put the dam up against it. This can be part of the warm and tease, applying some lube or getting them to put it where they want it (or, to be more precise, where they want you).
- Holding the dam in place.
Someone needs to hold the dental dam in place. This isn’t the most convenient thing to have to do, but if the dam falls or flips over it defeats the purpose. You can stretch your hands and fingers out such that while holding the dam in place you’ve also got a firm grasp on your partner’s inner thighs, pubic mound, or bum. You can also make your own dam garter or harness (scroll down for the instructions).
- Make it part of the scene.
Using dental dams the first few times can feel weird, or at least very different. They are an imposition on your sex play. But if the sex is good, and you’re into it, with some practice you’d be amazed at how quickly the dam disappears into the passion, wetness, and heat of your sex play. As you're using your mouth, tongue, and lips to pleasure your partner, imagine what you’d be doing if the dam wasn’t there, and then do that. This is an example of how having safer sex requires you to turn the heat up on the sex you’re having and intensify the connection.
- Make dental dams from condoms.
Dental dams that are marketed and sold for sexual purposes are ideal for this purpose as they are large and thin. But they’re also expensive and can be hard to find. You can easily make a dental dam by unrolling a condom, making one cut up the side, and then cutting off the tip so you have a latex rectangle. Unlubricated condoms are easiest for this purpose.
- Plastic wrap as dental dam?
Some health organizations say that if you don’t have dental dams handy, and can’t make one out of a condom, you can use plastic wrap instead. There are references to only using non-microwaveable plastic wrap as this provides a more solid barrier to organisms and micro-organisms. Plastic wrap is definitely better than nothing, but the best option is to use a dental dam or make one out of a condom.
- Latex allergies and dental dams.
There are non latex dental dams available (one brand is called “Hot Dams”). These tend to be more expensive than the latex dental dams, and if you can’t find them or can’t afford them, you can use a non-latex condom or plastic wrap.