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Yes, obviously a dental dam is something you’d find at a dentist’s office. Although it did get its name from its original use as a tool in dental exams, it is also a slang for sexual protection during oral sex. It is commonly believed that you don’t need a condom when engaging in oral sex. In school, you are taught the importance of the use of condoms and birth control, and they even promote abstinence, but no one talks about dental dams and cunnilingus. So we go on in life, oblivious to the fact that safe sex should also be practiced when it comes to oral sex. Or, to give educators the benefit of the doubt, we learn that condoms should be used when oral sex is performed on a male. But what do we learn about safety when oral sex is performed on a female?
Before you head below the belt to spell the ABC’s with your tongue on your girl’s most sensitive lady parts, get a dental dam. Dental dams act as a barrier to keep vaginal or anal fluids that contain bacteria and viruses away from the mouth. It also protects against having skin to skin contact which can easily transfer infections. The use of this safe sex tool can protect against sexually transmitted diseases—such as herpes, genital warts, and HIV— during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex. Dental dams are available in a variety of styles to suit the needs of the individuals using them. Another method to prevent sexually transmitted infections includes condoms, which are used during intercourse or while giving head.
Dental dams are essentially marketed towards lesbian or bisexual women, but in a study of 330 women showed that less than 2 percent of women who identify as homosexual use dental dams regularly. In a study done on heterosexual couples, use is almost non-existent.
Those numbers are strikingly low compared to the 5 million people who use condoms as a way to participate in safe sex, whether that be during intercourse or oral sex. The low number of people using dental dams may relate directly to the lack of information that is supplied regularly on dental dams during the formative years of sexual education. Many nurses, schools, and clinics give out condoms freely as a way to remind people that safe sex is important, but what about promoting safe oral sex?
It’s not like these options don’t exist. In 1994, Glyde Health, an Australia-based company, produced its first dental dam. A year later a US company, launched its own version of the safe oral sex alternative. Though these were new to the market, they weren’t received with open arms. A coordinator for the lesbian and same-sex health project in Australia revealed that the project used to include dental dams in safe sex packages that were given out at parties, events and conferences. They spent about $1,500 a year on 3,000 dental dams, but as people’s interest decreased, so did the number of dams the project gave out. It was recently reported they give out as few as 400 dams each year.
In stores, dental dams are sold as thin, latex or silicone squares. To use, it is removed from its package and then placed over a woman’s vulva and held there as her partner heads south. Dental dams are a layer of protection between the mouth and genitals. In the case of “rimming,” which is licking the anus, you would simply place a latex square over your partners anus before you begin. The rubbery, innovative material allows the activity to still be enjoyable for everyone involved.
No Dental Dam? No Problem!
If you are having trouble finding dental dams in stores near you, you can use a condom to create an alternative. To do so, you would cut off the tip at the base of the condom and then cut down the length of the tube. Unroll the condom into a rectangular sheet, check for any holes or tears, and now you have a working dental dam. Like condoms, many dental dams come in various colors and flavors, so you can find the one that’s best for you.
If you need to get the deed done quickly, and you don’t have a latex dental dam or a condom handy, take it to the kitchen. No, I’m not suggesting that you get eaten out on the kitchen table, unless that’s what you’re into. I’m talking about a household item that can be used as a successful substitute: plastic wrap. This staple in most kitchen drawers can double as a method of safe oral sex. Because it is even thinner than the latex of a condom or dental dam, it is a popular alternative.
The first thing to do is rip off a piece of plastic wrap that is large enough to cover the whole vulva or anus. Then check that there are no holes or tears in the material. The last step is to get to work and bring your lady to a toe curling orgasm. Though this seems impractical and unconventional, a dental dam in the form of plastic wrap is recommended as a way to protect both you and your partner on many safe sex websites. It is recommended that you apply some lubricant to the side of the plastic wrap that will be on the vulva for increased pleasure. Since plastic wrap isn’t the taste everyone is craving in their mouth, adding some honey or jam to the other side makes for a tasty experience. And always dispose of the plastic wrap dental dam when going from vagina to anus, or vice versa.
While the use of plastic wrap as a form of sex protection may seem like a myth, it isn’t as far-fetched as some other falsities that have developed over the years. For example, there’s the myth that using two condoms is safer than one. This may sounds foolproof, but the addition of one condom over another actually makes them more likely to break. Less is more in this case.
Alternative, But Not Recommended Methods
In the event that condoms aren’t readily available, people have also went ahead with douching their vaginas to prevent any wily sperm from finding a home in an ovum. That is not successful, and can ultimately lead to infections. The safest way to prevent pregnancy is to use condoms or other proven and reliable forms of birth control. This myth is not turning into a truth any time soon.
And of course there is the tried, and not true, pull-out method. This is where a couple participates in intercourse, and right before the man ejaculates, he removes his penis from her vagina in order to avoid pregnancy. All it takes is one little sperm to meet up with an ovum and voila, a baby is on board. Pre-ejaculation can be just as potent as regular ejaculation and can lead to pregnancy, as well as the passing on of STDs.
Protection during oral sex is just as important as during intercourse. STDs can be transferred through skin to skin contact or through fluids of the body. And while all of the preventative methods above are nothing more than myths, the tried and true—plastic wrap as a dental dam—is an alternative for those times you don’t have anything else handy. Dive head first into practicing the ABC’s with your tongue as you practice safe sex and deliver orgasm after orgasm.