Dental Dam: What Is It for and Is It Effective?

These are diseases you’ll definitely want to avoid since there’s no way to ditch them once you catch them. On the other hand, you might want your sex life to include activities like oral sex. These products allow you to do that while practicing safe sex at the same time.

hand holding a dental dam

Do you want to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during oral sex? If so then one of the best options is a dental dam. These products are made of stretchy materials like latex but are different from condoms. However, they can have the same function by preventing a person’s lips and mouth from contacting sex organs. Recent studies show that half of sexually-active Americans will get an STD by age 25. This highlights the need to take steps to prevent the spread of ones like herpes and gonorrhea. Dental dams attempt to prevent various types of STDs, which will improve your sex life. 

The big question is: do they work? Nothing in life is 100% and the same is true of dental dams. However, since they prevent direct contact with sex organs, they can help to prevent the spread of most of today’s STDs. This is important since some STDs like syphilis and chlamydia can’t be cured. These are diseases you’ll definitely want to avoid since there’s no way to ditch them once you catch them. On the other hand, you might want your sex life to include activities like oral sex. These products allow you to do that while practicing safe sex at the same time.

What Is a Dental Dam?

This type of product is a thin/stretchy material like polyurethane (PU) or latex that’s used to experience oral sex while helping to prevent STDs. Like condoms, they’re available in various colors, flavored/unflavored, and lubricated/non-lubricated.

While dental dams have many of the same features as condoms, they’re different. Some of the main differences are they’re unisex and the shape is usually square. However, you can actually make some tweaks to turn these products into DIY condoms.

The main functions of condoms and dental dams are also quite similar. The biggest difference is dental dams are designed for oral sex instead of sexual intercourse. However, both products are designed to promote safe sex and help prevent STDs.

Here’s how they work. The material functions as a barrier/shield between the user’s mouth and the partner’s vagina or penis. The unit is placed over the genital area during sexual activity to prevent any direct contact between the mouth and sex organs. 

You have many of the same options when using dental dams versus condoms. They include colors, lubrication, and flavors. It’s really up to you which product you pick including a basic square piece of latex.

There are certain situations when a condom is a better option for oral sex. That includes latex allergies. If your partner has it then you should consider a non-latex product as an alternative.

It’s worth noting that various types of STDs can be transmitted through oral sex. They include

  1. Herpes (type 1/2)
  2. Gonorrhea
  3. Syphilis
  4. Chlamydia
  5. HIV

The situation becomes more serious since some STDs are incurable. In that case, the problem is once you get the disease you’ll have to deal with the symptoms for the rest of your life. A dental dam offers protection from most STDs during oral sex. This, in turn, also allows you to enjoy sexual activity with less risk.

Dental Dams: Are They Effective?

This is a critical issue since you’ll likely want to use a product that can actually help to prevent STDs. In most cases, these products can help achieve that goal but as always there are some issues to keep in mind.

A big misconception people have is that STDs can only be transmitted through sexual intercourse. This is the top benefit of condoms since they’re designed mainly for that purpose.

Dental dams and other “barrier” products are very effective in lowering the risk of exchanging fluids that can infect you with STDs during oral sex.

It’s worth noting that while these products can help to protect from infections/conditions that could be shared from direct contact they don’t protect you from all STDs and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here are some of the main ones:

  • Herpes– You could still get herpes from a lesion if the dam doesn’t cover it. That can cause you to get herpes during oral sex.
  • HPV– This is actually the most common STI that’s transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. That’s true whether or not a person has warts.

So, while these products can protect against most STDs/STIs there are some cases when contacting skin or lesions could still cause you to get infected. That said, in most cases, you’ll be protected from most STIs/STDs, which is a good thing.

One of the benefits of dental dams is they’re quite easy to use. However, it’s still important to use them correctly in order to get the best results. Make sure to read the instructions so you’ll know the step-by-step procedures.

There are some things to keep in mind. Make sure not to stretch the dam and allow it to stick naturally to your body. Also, don’t remove the dam until the sexual activity is done.

What Are The Benefits of A Dental Dam?

Here are some of the main benefits of these products:


The prices will vary based on factors like the brand, quality, material, and single/pack. However, the price tags of these barriers are quite low and you can save money by purchasing value packs (e.g. 12 pieces). Just make sure you’re getting good quality units. This will help to prevent them from getting damaged.


It might be surprising but you can pick from various types of products. They include different colors, flavors, and lubrication. This adds to your experience and also gives you more flexibility when selecting a product.

In fact, many of these options are also offered for condoms. The main difference between the two products is their function. That said, it’s also a plus when you have more vs. fewer options.


If you want to enjoy oral sex, then dental dams are an excellent option. They’re specially designed for this purpose and protect the user’s mouth from directly contacting their partner’s vagina or penis.

This differs from condoms that are mainly designed for sexual intercourse. They can be used for oral sex but can’t be used for the activity with vaginas.


These products are quite easy to use. It’s just a thin piece of a stretchy material like latex. As always, it’s important to read a product’s instructions first so you’ll know the specific directions to follow.

It’s similar to the process of using a condom. These barriers will be more effective if you use them properly. That includes not removing them until you’re done, and not reusing them.


As noted, dental dams don’t work with some STDs/STIs. That said, it has more to do with how they’re shared instead of the product’s effectiveness. In most cases, you can protect you and your partner during oral sex by using a dental dam.

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