Like condoms, dental dams are an easy and effective barrier method of STD protection during oral sex, but unlike condoms they are a bit of a mystery for some. The thing is, these misunderstood pieces of latex can protect you from herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis so they’re pretty dam important. If you’re wondering what the heck a dental dam is or how they’re used, read on to learn more.

 

Misconception #1: You’ve never seen or used one. Whether you know it or not, you probably have. Dental dams are the latex rectangles dentists use to isolate teeth during dental procedures (fun fact of the day). The dental dams specifically used for STD protection are thinner than the ones dentists use, but they’re otherwise the same.

Misconception #2: They’re complicated. In fact, dental dams are anything but. You simply place the dental dam over the vulva or anus before performing oral sex. You don’t need to pull or stretch the latex and you can even have your partner hold it in place.

Misconception #3: They are for homosexual women only. This is definitely not the case. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, dental dams should be used when performing oral sex on the anus or vulva.

Misconception #4: If you don’t have one, you’re out of luck. There aren’t many STD protection tools we’d recommend you DIY, but in this case you can. Dental dams can be made out of condoms, rubber gloves and even non-porous plastic wrap.

Misconception #5: They kill the mood. The truth is, they don’t have to. In fact, there are ways to use dental dams to get in the mood if you’re creative.

Now that you know what dental dams are, we hope you’ll consider stocking up—they’re available at Planned Parenthood health centers and drugstores. Since dental dams offer protection when condoms don’t, an arsenal of two types of latex is better than one (if you need both of course)—and it means safer sex all around. Just to be clear, dental dams and condoms shouldn’t be used at the same time.

What dental dam misconceptions have you heard?

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