The Atlantic

Nobody Uses Dental Dams

So why do they still exist? An Object Lesson.
Source: WhiteJack / Shutterstock / The Atlantic

The students have survived watching their teacher demonstrate how to put a condom on a “wooden penis model.” They’ve been assigned homework to find examples of contraception use in sex scenes in movies or TV shows. But before they go, they have one final lesson, one last barrier method for their teacher to sheepishly explain: the dental dam, a latex sheet used as a barrier during oral sex.

According to a sex-education curriculum used by school districts in San Diego, Boston, Portland, and elsewhere, their teacher would show them how to remove a dam from its package and place it over genitalia by forming an “O” with their hand. The instructor would inform the students that dental dams are flavored, and that they should only be used once and then thrown away. Most important, the teacher would instruct them to always use dental dams when performing oral sex on women, or they’ll be at risk of transmitting STIs.There’s just one problem: The pupils are unlikely to ever take their teacher up on the suggestion. Even the teachers, preaching about the dangers of STIs, have probably never bought one themselves.

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