Sexual health

Give a Dam: Your Guide to Oral Sex Protection

Published: NOVEMBER 15, 2022
Protection is just as important for oral sex as it is for anal or vaginal sex. And, although that can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment, there are tips that can make your play sessions seamless, safe and sexy. 

You've heard about it before, but do you actually do it?


Because you should.

That's right -- if you'd use safer sex protection with a particular partner for anal or vaginal sex, you should also use a barrier for oral sex. Some STIs can be spread via oral sex, so it requires the same diligence as other kinds of play.

But it can be hard to make protected oral sex happen. Not only are some oral sex protection options harder to find (looking at you, dental dams!), but the taste can be a turn-off for some. Plus, let's get real: Sometimes protection, even if it's necessary and important, can be a hassle -- especially when it just won't stay where you want it.


So, let's talk about the tools for oral sex protection -- and how we can make it fit as seamlessly as possible into our sex lives.

Oral Sex Protection Options

Curious about your safer sex options? Let's talk:

What is a Condom?

You've probably seen or heard of a condom before. But did you know it can be just as useful for oral sex protection as it is for intercourse protection?


A condom is a long "tube," usually made of latex, sheepskin or polyurethane, that unrolls onto the penis' shaft. Once unrolled, this tube now covers the shaft, placing a barrier between the giver's mouth and the receiver's body. It also has the added benefit of keeping any fluids (like precum or ejaculate) from making contact with the giver's mouth -- which can be great if they don't enjoy the taste or feeling of ejaculation.

Condoms are relatively easy to access and come in flavored and unflavored varieties. In the United States, they can be found at almost any store (including gas stations!). For the giver's comfort, try to avoid textured condoms for oral sex fun; the constant up-and-down motion of the texture on the giver's mouth can be extremely uncomfortable.

If you aren't performing oral sex on an erect penis, though, you'll probably need to use one of the other oral sex protection methods; condoms are notoriously difficult to slide onto a flaccid penis.


READ: Sexualizing the Soft Penis.

What is a Dental Dam?

As the name implies, dental dams are protection methods initially designed for use by dentists. Now, though, they're often called "rubber dams" in the world of dentistry to avoid the sexual connotation the term has taken on. In dentistry, rubber dams are used inside the mouth to stop bacteria and infections from entering a specific area during a dental procedure.

As it turns out, the basic premise of rubber dams was also really useful for safer sex: There are things we want to do during sex that would also benefit from reduced bacteria transfer.


Nowadays, if you pick up a dental dam, it's a large, flat sheet of (usually) latex. It looks like a tiny little latex blanket! To use one for oral sex, simply lay this little "blanket" over the area you want to pleasure to create a barrier between the pleasuring area and your face. And voilà! You have a little device to help prevent the transmission of STIs during oral sex and fecal bacteria during rimming!

Since dental dams are almost exclusively used for oral sex, most come in flavored varieties to reduce the material's "medicinal" flavor.

Dental dams may be the barrier method of choice for people with an enlarged clitoris that might be difficult to slide into a condom. (Although, some people with an enlarged clit prefer the glove method mentioned below!)


What are Lorals?

Relatively new to the scene, you can think of Lorals like dental dam underwear. They are, essentially, a pair of panties made from latex. Since the barrier is wearable, you don't have to hold it in place, which some people find a convenient shortcut for safer oral sex/rimming.

However, that convenience comes with a few downsides:

  • Lorals are the most expensive safer sex barrier on this list.
  • Their size availability doesn't fit larger bodies at this point.

READ: Big Love: Sex on the Plus Side.

But if your finances allow it, Lorals can double as safer sex lingerie, and that can be a blast -- especially for special occasions!

How To Make a Dental Dam at Home

Remember how dental dams can be hard to find in stores? Well, they can. I can't tell you the number of sex stores I've walked into looking for dental dams only to be told they don't carry them. And that's not to mention how you can't get them them at pharmacies or regular stores. They're, quite honestly, a pain to get a hold of, and for many people, a kink-friendly space or an online sex toy store are probably the only places you can get them easily.

This means people have DIY-ing their dental dams for a while now. And while this method doesn't have the same built-in flavoring and easy-use design, it can still work.

Here's what you'll need:

While it's hard to find condoms that still use spermicide, make sure to choose a spermicide-free condom to avoid ingesting some nasties.

Now, here's how to turn a condom into a makeshift dental dam:

  1. Unroll the condom as flat as possible.
  2. Cut off the tip and base.
  3. Make a cut, from tip to base, lengthwise.
  4. Unroll the condom into a semi-square piece of latex you can use as a dental dam.

Here's how to turn a pair of medical-safe disposable gloves into a DIY dental dam:

  1. Cut off all of the fingers except the thumb.
  2. On the side where the pinky finger used to be, cut along the entire glove lengthwise.
  3. Flatten the glove into a semi-square piece of latex/nitrile with a cool tongue hole.

Sunny Megatron has a really fantastic video about how to turn a glove into a dental dam.

And, while people argue back and forth about whether this is a good idea, Planned Parenthood endorses the use of non-microwavable saran wrap/plastic wrap as a dental dam if you're in a pinch. Even if it isn't FDA-approved, some protection is better than none!

Tips for Making Protected Oral Sex More Fun

Reality check: Sometimes protection can be a pain in the butt.

Dental dams move. Latex can taste odd compared to human flesh. Condoms can unroll. It's the truth: Even if barriers protect us, not using barriers is generally less frustrating.

(Though, if you're sensitive to infections after penis-in-vagina sex, some vagina owners find that using a condom for intercourse can help drastically reduce the number of infections they get. So that's kinda cool!)

If you're going down your journey of safer sex barriers with good intentions, here are some tips to help make it as seamless as possible:

READ: 6 Simple Ways to Make Safer Sex Super Hot.

1. Hate Barriers? Get Tested

The easiest way to avoid using protection is to simply get tested and ensure all partners involved are comfortable with each other's results.

Of course, this assumes partners are sexually exclusive, and it's definitely a financial and time commitment that signifies a certain step in your relationship, so it's not a good fit for everyone.

READ: Ethical Non Monogamy and Trust: How to Make it Work.

For the rest of us:

2. Hate the Taste? Try Flavored Lube

I admit: A good chunk of my resistance to safer sex barriers for oral is the taste and smell. I'm just not a huge latex fetishist. (But if you are, it should be easy to add safer sex barriers to your play!)

Flavored lube can be a good way to introduce different flavors into your mouth instead. While it can take a while to find a flavored lube you enjoy, once you do, the taste can add a distracting element to your safer sex barrier to make it easier to ignore the latex.

READ: 7 Fun Ways to Use Flavored Lube.

You may also want to experiment with flavored condoms or dental dams. I've found that the latex "marinating" in the flavor within the packaging tends to reduce some of the strong latex scent and taste versus simply using flavored lube.

3. Barrier Won't Stay Put? Try Dental Dam Tips

If you're new to dental dams, they can be a bit of a beast to control. While most of us have a (literal) lifetime of using condoms on penises, we're brand new to dental dams. So, first off:

Be kind to yourself when it isn't flawless at first.

There's a lot of technique that comes with learning to use dental dams and keep them in place. It can be unique to the individual, too -- and even the sex position! It's, simply, a flat piece of latex. This can mean you'll need to learn to wrangle it into the best spot for use.

Here are some pro tips for dental dam use:

  1. Add a bit of lubricant underneath the dental dam. Spread a bit of lube around the area you're using the dental dam in and lay the dental dam onto the area like a blanket. The little bit of adhesion the lube provides can help stick the dry latex sheet in place. Just remember to go light on the lube. You want it to gently adhere -- not slide around!
  2. Try a garter belt. Some dental dam lovers swear by garter belts to hold the dental dam in place. Instead of clipping the garter belt onto stockings, clip it onto the corners of the dental dam. Just make sure to keep a visual lookout for rips and swap out the dental dam if anything tears.
  3. Work together. If all else fails, both partners can tag-team the use of the dental dam. Have the receiving partner hold the top two corners of the dental dam while the giving partner holds the bottom two corners. This'll keep it nicely in place!
  4. Try Lorals. Lorals might also be a good fit for you if you have the financial resources and are getting frustrated by dental dams. Think of Lorals as a giant pair of dental dam panties; since they wrap around the entire torso, they don't need "help" to stay in place.

Remember: if your dental dam gets too messed up, you may need to switch to a fresh one. For example, if the giving partner accidentally licks a part of the barrier that had previously been touching the receiver's anus, you're circumventing the barrier entirely.

Your dental dam is only as effective as you are.

4. Barrier Won't Stay Put? Try Condom Tips

If you're getting rough with your hands, or if the recipient's hardness fluctuates, a condom on the penis can begin to roll off during oral -- and that can be aggravating.

Here are some tips to keep it in place:

  1. Ensure the condom is fully rolled down to begin with.
  2. Reduce the length of your strokes. This can help you avoid catching the condom's base and stop it from rolling up.
  3. Wrap a hand around the base of the condom. If you know you're going to do something rough and reducing your strokes isn't an option, either partner can wrap a hand around the base of the condom to help hold it in place while you do the fun thing.
  4. Try a new brand. If the above tips don't help, you may be in need of a new condom brand. Each type of condom is made to its own specifications -- we're talking tiny millimeter changes here! If your condom is constantly rolling off, a thinner or shorter condom might eliminate the problem; it may just be the wrong fit for your or your partner's body.

Condoms also are near-impossible to get onto a flaccid penis. If that's the case, consider another barrier method for protection. Betty Dodson specifically recommends the saran wrap method we spoke about earlier.

5. Swapping Spots? Use a New Barrier

Remember: Your safer sex barrier is going to come in contact with the area you place it on. (Makes sense, right? But it's easy to forget mid-sex!)

So, if you want to go from anal licking to vulva licking, you can't take that dental dam with you. It will have anal bacteria on it -- and you could accidentally give the receiving partner an infection. Just remember the rules around anal bacteria when playing with safer sex barriers; they still apply here!

READ: The Ultimate Guide to Having Anal Sex.


Protection is just as important for oral sex as it is for anal or vaginal sex.

And, although that can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment, there are tips that can make your play sessions seamless, safe and sexy.

Mistress Kay

Mistress Kay has a fondness for all things sexual. With a house that's quickly running out of room for all of her reading and vibrating pleasures, she spends her free time reading, writing, and learning about the sexual universe with her partners. She can be reached at Kinky World.

Latest Sex Positions