Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Going Down With A Dental Dam

In Dating, Health and Body, Sex on October 24, 2010 at 8:15 pm


After a 5-year relationship I recently got back out on the dating market.  I try to be a good lover and as far as I’m concerned that means going down on the women I sleep with. That being said I am concerned about the threat of contracting STD’s this way.  What can I do to protect myself?


Santa Fe, NM

Photo © Betsssssy from

Dear Bryan,

I adore this question.  Why?  Because you are the ideal American lover: you love pleasuring your women and are conscientious about health in the process, a wise New Mexican, indeed.  The bottom line: unprotected oral sex does put you at risk for STD’s and yes, there are ways to protect yourself.

Via oral genital contact you are widely at risk for contracting trichomaniasis, genital warts, gonorrhea (which can cause throat cancer when contracted in the mouth) and a mouthful of other diseases.  HPV and HIV are also both contractable by mouth, and are more so a risk if you or your partner has open wounds or if she is on her period.  Try not to go down on anyone if you have cold sores, bleeding gums, or even if you just brushed your teeth.  These conditions leave your mouth more vulnerable to disease.

What to do to protect, both front and back nether regions?  Use a dental dam.  Originally a square section of latex used as a dental fluid barrier device, the dental dam has evolved as a means of preventing STD’s during oral sex.  Buy at, online or in person at  Toys In Babeland, at local sex shops, the dentist, etc.  If you don’t want to buy one, you can make one with a condom (click here for instructions).  Allergic to latex?  Click here. Also, saran wrap, the NON-MICROWAVABLE kind, is an option.  This, however, unlike the other two latex options, is not a proven defense against HIV.

According to Scarleteen: Sex Ed For the Real World in a post titled “Ode to Saran Wrap:”

Saran wrap is the greatest thing ever. For just $3 one could safely lick 200 square feet of woman (or man or any combination of the two) without worry of bad tastes, pubes, or STDs.

HOWEVER, there are a few things to be mentioned:

1- LUBE, if you do not somehow lube the other side of the saran wrap dental dam it will crumple up into a little ball, but lube tastes bad so don’t get it on the side that you plan to lick. The easiest way to do this is to lube the area to be covered and then put the saran wrap on top of it.

2-SIZE, I have no idea how a condom cut open is supposed to even begin to be big enough to serve as a dental dam. Rip off a HUGE 1.5 to 2-foot section of saran wrap, stick the top of it to their body (lower stomach, lower back, whatever is handy) so that it doesn’t go anywhere (don’t put lube on this part either, otherwise it doesn’t stick)and smooth the rest of it down over their genitals and anus. There should be extra left over, things shift around, you may need it.

3-ADJUST, and readjust. As aforementioned, things shift around, so keep readjusting and holding, if possible, the edges of the saran wrap so that they stay covering that which you do no want in your mouth (get the other person to do this for you if possible, tell them you need to concentrate, and they’re not doing anything with their hands anyway).

Saran Wrap Dental Dam FAQ

Q. Doesn’t a dental dam get in the way?

A. NO. Absolutely not, not even a little, I swear.

Q. Really?

A. Yes, really. If you adequately lube the one side it will slip around and conform to every imaginable shape to fit every crevice you could possibly want to lick

Q. But what if I want to use my hands too and the dental dam really is inhibiting me?

A. Put on a glove, lube it so it doesn’t stick to the saran wrap, and reach under the dental dam.

Also, as gleaned from the advice of a Jerusalem lesbian Tzaddik:

The transition to safe sexual practice can be awkward, it is up to you to make it sexy.  In the process just be careful that a dental dam doesn’t slip.  It is all about the positioning and how you hold it.  Hold it with one hand, spread over the area, and then give the person head.  But I found that if I let go of the dam, I would get really into it and it would slip really easily.”

At that point, just a note, you are exposed to everything you had been protecting against.  It only takes a little contact to put you at risk for a lifetime of disease, so, if you haven’t been tested and aren’t certain of monogamy, practice before you plunge.

A final word on STD testing:

“When it comes to sex that’s the place where people tend to lie the most.  Not maliciously, but so much shame is often involved around sex, it’s often easier to lie about it and not tell the truth.  Even if in a relationship and I totally trust the person, I am going to err on the side of caution.

Even with a trustworthy person, people lie about things.  I am not going to put myself at risk based on the possibility that they may be telling the truth, I am going presume they are lying just to be safe.  Not only that, but sometimes a test is taken too soon, symptoms don’t show, etc.  Even a negative test can later show up positive.”

The moral of the story?  Saran wrap, a dental dam or a carefully crafted condom, some lube, a lover, your mouth, a long night and everyone is safe, happy and satisfied.  And remember, all of the above also applies to rim jobs.  Happy trails.

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Merissa Nathan GersonCreate Your Badge