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KidsHealth - Teens
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What's a dental dam?
- Maria*

A dental dam is a smallish, square piece of latex that is used as a barrier during oral sex to help prevent the spread of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).

Dental dams get their name from their original purpose: They are used by dentists during dental procedures to block off the area being worked on.

The latex material most dental dams are made of helps protect against infection because it blocks body fluids. That's why people started using dental dams as a way to practice safe oral sex. For people with latex allergies, non-latex versions are available as well.

You can buy dental dams at some drugstores as well as clinics like Planned Parenthood.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2011

* Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

 
Other Related KidsHealth Articles:
About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.
Can Someone Get HIV Through Oral Sex?
Find out what the experts have to say.
Can You Get an Infection From Fingering or Oral Sex?
Find out what the experts have to say.
 
Related Resources:
GYT - Get Yourself Talking and Get Yourself Tested
This media campaign designed to get young people to talk with their health care providers and partners about the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.