Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Dental Dams

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what is a dental dam

When I was in high school, I worked at a dentist's office. 

I was responsible for prepping the trays for cleaning appointments, sterilizing the instruments, and keeping the supply closets stocked. 

My friends all thought this was hilarious, mainly because I had to wear scrubs to work and I was a child, but also because I had easy access to the world's least understood prophylactic:

The dental dam

What is a dental dam?

Good question!

It's used in dental offices and for people having hot sex. 

Dental dams are squares of latex that were originally designed for dentists to help them isolate a single tooth that might need work without that pesky ol' mouth getting in the way.

But because people are people, eventually someone figured out that dental dams are perfect barriers when performing analingus or cunnilingus, in order to help protect from STIs and STDs. 


Now, dental dams that are specifically designed for sex and made of a thinner material are readily available in sex shops — or, for the shy dental dam shopper, online. 

We still call them dental dams much in the same way that we still call tissues "tissues" and not "cum cleaners" — even though you know that's why your boyfriend has them next to his bed. . 

How do I use a dental dam?

So you've figured out what a dental dam is, now you need to figure out how to use it.

I'll be real — it's awkward and requires some serious multitasking. 

Using your two hands, pull the dental dam taut over the surface that you want to lick. 


Once you've picked a side, don't flip it! 

That defeats the whole purpose of even trying to be safe since it immediately puts you in contact with the other person's bodily fluids and bacteria. 

Can I make my own dental dam?


Now, let me stop you before you go running for the plastic wrap. 

You'll want to use a condom (WITHOUT spermicide on it) or a plastic glove. 

These materials aren't porous the way plastic wrap can be, and if safe sex is your goal (and it must be, or why else would you be using dental dams?) you DO NOT want a porous surface. 


To make your own dental dam out of a condom, simply cut off the tip (lol), and then cut down the side of the condom vertically creating a rectangle. Then have some sexy, rubbery, safe, fun.

With a rubber glove, it's much the same. 

Cut off the fingers (ouch), and then cut a vertical line down one side, creating a long plastic rectangular DIY dam. 

Do dental dams feel good?

Less than 10% of sexually active people use dental dams. 

Whether this is simply because they are inconvenient (all that holding and stretching) is hard to say.

If you are the receiving partner and you plan on using a dental dam, make sure to apply plenty of lube as this will increase friction and sensation for you during oral sex. 

I imagine if you're on the giving side it feels fine, rubbery and warm and strange, but fine. 

You can buy flavored dental dams (yum) that can make the experience even more delicious for the giver.


I was going to try out a dental dam and report back to you, but I've got a wicked latex allergy, and while I love YourTango and all its readers very much, I do not love the idea of my vagina swelling into a mountain of painful hives. 

Call me crazy. 

What do I do with all these spare dental dams?

So you've tried having oral sex with a dental dam and you've discovered that you love it.

That's great! Add them to your condom collection and walk away tall. 

But for those of you who tried out a dental dam and then discovered that it wasn't your cup of latex-filled tea, you're probably wondering what to do with all your leftover dental dams. 

May I suggest stitching them together to make a patchwork dental dam cardigan for the winter months?

Maybe you can glue them to some pieces of cork and have very kinky coasters! 

If you run out of plastic wrap and you have leftovers, you can even pull them taught and secure them with rubber bands to keep your meals fresh! 

Just be sure you remember to remove them before putting them in the microwave. 

Because that is not an explosion you want to have explain to your landlord.