Dental Dams are rectangular barriers, often made of latex, used during oral sex - anally or vaginally - to reduce the risk of STI transmission.
How to Use a Dental Dam
- Lightly rinse your dental dam in lukewarm water to remove any powder. Talc and starch contribute to infections.
- Inspect the barrier for damage or tears by holding it up to a light.
- Place water-based lube on the side that will be held against the recipient.
- Stretch the dam across the receptive body part.
- Do what you do, without turning the dam. The giver has a side and the receiver has a side. If anything happens to confuse which side is which, get a new dam!
- When you are finished, removed the dam, wrap it up and dispose of it so no one can come into contact with it. Do NOT flush it.
How to Make a Dental Dam
Dental dams can be hard to find and are not usually available at your local pharmacy. You may have to improvise and make one at home:
- From a Condom - Cut the tip off of the condom, slit the condom up the side and lay flat.
- From a Glove - Cut the fingers and thumb off of the glove. Slit the glove up the side and lay flat.
- Plastic Wrap - Just tear off a piece of wrap from your kitchen drawer. As long as it hasn’t been heated, microwaveable wrap is safe.
- Do NOT reuse a barrier. The barrier can be compromised after the first use and cleaning doesn’t ensure all germs are removed.
- Do NOT use a dam for more than one body part. Vaginal to anal or back again can contribute to infections.
- If you make a dam at home be sure to use a compatible lube. Lube improves sensation for the recipient.
- Either partner can hold the dam. Figure out what works best for you and yours.
On a Personal Note
I personally prefer plastic wrap; it is thinner for improved sensation and the size is larger making it easier to use and more likely to cover the entire area. I keep a box by the bed for convenience.
Wield it Wednesday is our weekly post on technique and other technical aspects of play.
Safewords and safesigns are verbal or non-verbal signals that are used to communicate with partners during any kind of sexy fun time that the activity needs stop, may be too intense or that a check-in is needed. Safewords are not just for submissives or bottoms; dominants and tops need safewords too.
Play spaces can be loud, so putting a safesign in place gives you more options for communicating with the people you play with. Nonverbal signs are an imperative if someone in the scene is to be gagged or if someone in the scene is hearing impaired.
(Aside: My spouse and I have a safesign for everyday life. It’s how I let them know that it’s time to leave unending family gatherings or that I don’t feel safe in a given situation. One long, firm hand squeeze means “I’m okay.” Two quick hands squeezes mean “Time to go.” We use a similar signal for play.)
Below is my favorite set up for safewords and safesigns. I’m a fan of the stoplight system. YMMV*!
- Safeword 1: Red - All activity is to stop immediately.
- Safeword 2: Yellow - A check-in or adjustment is needed.
- Non-verbal check-in: Two squeezes - Are you with me?
- Response 1: One squeeze - A more direct check-in is needed.
- Response 2: Two squeezes - Active consent to continue the scene.
If you or your partner do not have the dexterity or are not in a position to squeeze you can give the bottom something to hold. When the bottom drops the item, it is time for a direct check-in. Keys, stress balls and even bandanas can make good “drop out” items.
- Negotiate safewords/signs in advance. Make sure the signals are something everyone will understand. (“Harder” is not a good safeword ;o)
- Always honor the safeword/safesign agreement. Once the safeword/sign is used, consent is revoked; to continue is assault.
- Don’t joke about safewords. Don’t joke that you won’t honor them, don’t jokingly use them in a scene and don’t shame a bottom out of using them.
- Check-in. Check-ins don’t have to break the mood; stay connected with your partner’s emotional and physical state. “Are you with me?”
- Use your safewords/signs. Using your safeword does not make you less of a bottom; it makes you a trustworthy bottom with good judgment.
If you are at a public event or play space “Safeword” can be used to signal that outside assistance is needed. It communicates to others that you have attempted to communicate a safeword/safesign to your partner and it is not being honored.
It’s Safety Sunday: Be safe! Have fun!
*YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary
Several factors cloud perspectives on BDSM and make it all the more difficult for the feminist women involved. For a start, pornography is not the most accurate portrayal of the scene. Sure it’s hot, and I’m a big proponent of porn, but it’s helpful to consider the differences between a kinky scene of whips and chains on the set of an adult entertainment film and incorporating similar stuff into a real life relationships. That is, porn will cut straight to the juicy middle of the action hot XXX material, but in reality (at least when you’re trying it out for the first time) there’s a whole lot of less sexy stuff either side. Boundaries established, safe words outlined, choices made and consent declared. Now, this can come about as a casual conversation and needn’t be a signed contract, but nevertheless it happens and makes a big difference to the personal security and state of mind of all participants.
Similarly, I doubt many practitioners of bondage and discipline get up and go about their day qualm free immediately after a session, or even roll over and go to sleep. Fetish clubs have ‘aftercare’ rooms for a reason. Sex involving BDSM is bound to be intense, and as part of a relationship where the ‘normal’ power dynamic is very different from the ‘sexual’ one even more so. The sex I have with my partner is genuinely scary, genuinely painful and I couldn’t be happier with this. But it means the attention I need afterwards is heightened and different from more typical sex. I need reassurance and comfort, and my partner knows this and will always provide.
A great post. There is porn that helps, porn that hurts, and porn that can do some combination of the two - but just like any other film or media industry, it is not “pornography” that is inherently flawed. Just the way that it is sometimes presented.