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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more

You’ve heard of condoms. But what about dental dams? These thin, flexible sheets of latex can protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They’re also a dam good time. Here’s how to have the best oral sex ever with dental dams.

Dental dam myths

Myth 1: They’re hard to use. Dental dams are super simple. Just put one over your partner’s vajayjay or bum before your oral sesh.

Myth 2: They kill the mood. Nothing is sexier than protecting yourself and your partner from STIs (aka the real mood killer). Plus, dental dams can add a fun and flavorful twist to your oral sex game.

Myth 3: They’re for #TeamVag only. Anyone who enjoys oral sex should use a dental dam when performing cunnilinus or analingus.

Myth 4: I can’t buy them in a store. Dental dams are def harder to come by than condoms. But you might be able to find them at your local pharmacy. If not you can find them online. You can also make your own dental dams using condoms or non-porous plastic wrap.

Myth 5: You’ve never seen one. You’ve probably used a dental dam without realizing it. Dentists use them to isolate teeth during procedures.

A dental dam is a type of barrier method protection. It can protect you from STIs during mouth-to-genital and mouth-to-anus oral sex. They come in tons of tasty flavors and cool colors.

Penetrative sex gets all the credit. But fluids are fluids. That means you can also contract an STI from oral sex.

STI prevention

Dental dams can protect you from:

Let’s talk heinie smoocheroos

Rimming is the unsung hero of oral sex. A lot of folks love rimjobs, but it doesn’t get the same attention as “having a box lunch” or blow jobs. Even though it can be super fun, butthole licking comes with a unique risk 💩.

Your partner could have the cleanest butthole on the planet. But you still might come in contact with fecal matter. Poop can carry bacteria like Shigella and E. coli. It may even contain intestinal parasites. Yikes.

Dental dams can help protect you from a bacterial or parasitic infection.

A dental dam might not protect you from the STIs you can get from skin-to-skin contact. This includes:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): This can be transmitted through intimate skin contact even if no warts are present. That could be a reason why it’s the most common STI.
  • Herpes: A dental dam can only protect you against herpes if a lesion is totally covered.
  • Pubic lice: These little buggers 🦀 can jump from your partner into your body hair.

Dental dams aren’t always available in pharmacies. That could be why they don’t get a lot of credit. Thankfully, they’re easy to find online. If you or your partner has a latex allergy you’re still in luck! Some brands offer polyurethane dental dams.

Dental dams are usually more expensive than condoms. A single dental dam can be $1 to $2. They might be cheaper if you buy them in bulk. You can also ask your doctor or local clinic if the’ll give you some freebies.

Oral sex underwear

Crotchless panties are so Y2K. It’s all about latex underwear now. Lorals offers a variety of panties specifically designed for oral sex. They’re not yet approved for STI prevention, but they can help prevent beard burn. Latex panties are also a good option if you don’t want to be totally exposed.

Using dental dams is a breeze. But it’s still important to go over some basics before hitting the sheets.

How to use a dental dam:

  1. Gently open the package.
  2. Pull out the latex sheet.
  3. Unfold it.
  4. Place the rectangle over your partner’s anus or vagina.
  5. Leave that baby on till you’re finished.
  6. Toss it out

Dental dam pro tips

Cover up: The entire area you’re kissing, licking, and sucking has to be covered. Otherwise you might not be protected. The dam should stick to the body thanks to static and moisture. If not, hold it in place.

Lube it up: A little lube can go a long way. It will help the dam stay in place. Plus lube can add an extra level of oh la la to the pleasure. Just be sure to use a water- or silicone-based lube. Studies show oil-based lubes can break down latex.

Replace it: Don’t stretch the dam out too much. This can cause rips or holes. If the dental dam breaks during the action throw it out. Replace it with a new one before getting back to business.

Generally, DIY STI protection is not a great idea. But that’s not the case with dental dams. In a pinch you can make your own. All you need is a condom and some scissors.

Turn a condom into a dental dam

  1. Open a condom wrapper.
  2. Unroll it.
  3. Cut the tip and end.
  4. Cut vertically.
  5. Roll out the latex sheet.
  6. Place over genitals or anus.

No condom? No problem. You can use plastic wrap if you’re in a bind. Keep in mind, plastic wrap is usually used for sandwiches, not genitalia. There are no studies to prove plastic wrap is an effective barrier method to prevent STIs. Also, the thicker material might minimize pleasure.

The good news with plastic wrap? You can use a wider sheet to lick and play with larger areas of the bod.

Heck no. That would be like reusing a condom. Once its used the dental dam could expose you or your partner to STIs or other types of infections.

You can catch STIs from oral sex. So protect yourself with a dental dam. You can order them online or DIY with a condom or plastic wrap. You’ll have a ton of fun in the process. Now, it’s time to go to tongue town! 👅