Reproductive Health

Dental Dams

2 min read

What is a dental dam? 

A dental dam is a thin piece of protective material to use during oral sex to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It’s often made out of a material called latex or polyurethane and can come in a variety of sizes. A dental dam is not a form of birth control (if you are looking for birth control - check out some options here), it’s a barrier to avoid skin-to-skin contact, which could spread an STI from one partner to another. 

How do I use a dental dam? 

An external condom can be used for oral sex with a penis, but a dental dam is most helpful for when one partner is putting their mouth on another partner’s vagina or anus. 

Carefully remove the dental dam from the packaging to avoid tearing it and lay it over the vagina or anus. The dental dam will move around, so you’ll need to hold it in place when using it. You can try using a water-based lubricant between the dental dam and your skin, which may help it stay in place.

Is it pleasurable to use a dental dam?

The dental dam is thin, so the person receiving oral sex can still feel pleasure (it will be a different sensation than direct contact). Dental dams come in a variety of flavors to make it more enjoyable for the person giving oral sex as well. 

Can dental dams be reused?

No, you should use a new dental dam each time you perform oral sex and then throw it away. If the dental dam breaks when using it, replace it with a new one. 

Where can I get a dental dam? 

Some drug stories and pharmacies may offer dental dams, or you can order them online. Some people also create their own dental dams by cutting an external condom. You can see instructions below from the CDC:


Looking for more personalized info? Message a doctor through Twentyeight to get medical advice based on your needs and lifestyle. 

With the participation of
Dr. Jacquelyn Stone

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