What is a dental dam? A dental dam is a small square of latex, the original purpose of which was for use in isolating areas and protecting them from bacteria during dental procedures (they are still used often in root canals). What is a dental dam known for now? Dental dams are now known for being a safer sex precaution when performing oral sex on a woman (cunnilingus or anilingus) or man (anilingus).
While only the Sheer Glyde dental dam, specifically designed to prevent the spread of bacteria during oral sex, is actually approved by the FDA for safer sex precaution during oral sex, any brand of dental dam when used properly will reduce the risk of bacteria from vaginal fluid or menstrual blood being transferred to the person performing oral sex.
How is a dental dam used? The latex square is spread across the entire opening of the vagina from perineum to clitoris and held there. When used for anilingus it is particularly important to make sure the latex square is covering the entire area. Do not use the same dam for oral-vaginal contact as used for oral-anal contact.
How does a dental dam affect sensation? Like a condom changes the sensation of sexual intercourse, a dental dam will change the sensation of oral sex. Many people do not use them for this reason, and because oral sex is considered a "lower risk" sexual activity. Ways to make the use of a dental dam more pleasurable include using the dental dam itself to stimulate the clitoris by moving it with the mouth or hand, and using flavored dams.
What is a dental dam really good for? Many couples do not like to perform oral sex during a woman's period. A dental dam can make this activity safer and less messy. Dental dams are not as widely used as condoms, but are yet another way to make sex safer.