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Let’s Talk About Dental Dams For A Minute

In his latest stand up, “Elephant In The Room”, comedian Patrice O’Neal has a hilarious bit about safe sex and why he feels it’s a woman’s responsibility. While I don’t agree entirely with this notion, I definitely see his point, which he brings full circle in the following quote:

Here’s why [ladies] should be responsible for safe sex: How many guys in here, honestly, have used a dental dam before… [chuckles, but no show of hands or applause from the crowd] No one’s ever used one before, huh? See what I’m saying? [Ladies] are all like, ‘Put that condom on’ but…The dental dam is a piece of a trash bag, about as big as a napkin that you flip out, and you lay it over a woman’s vagina just in case it’s poison, to protect us from imminent danger. But [men] don’t use it because [women will] be insulted. If I’m getting ready to have sex with you and I pull out a piece of a trash bag, and you go ‘What is that?’ and I go ‘I’m just going to lay this out over your vagina just in case it kills me’ and you say ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’ When we see that face, we’re like, ‘Nothing, forget it…I’d rather die than insult my way out of some p****y. I’d rather get what you got!”

It’s all jokes, so the offended can move right along as I unpack this for the rest of us mature adults to discuss.

As is the case with most quality jokes, there is some truth in O’Neal’s jest. When he asked the men in the audience how many of them have used a dental damn, I laughed because as a fellow man (for those who are slow Patrice is a male comedian) I knew the question was somewhat rhetorical.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows how adamant I am about using condoms. As Lil Wayne once rapped, “Safe sex is great sex” (that’s my favorite line of his to quote). Nothing brings me more piece of mind than great sex with a condom and no woman will ever need to ask me twice to put one on. Hell, she practically doesn’t even need to ask me once. I got it. Trust me. But as O’Neal points out, women are quick to tell a man to put a condom on, but never are they quick to tell a man to use a dental dam. ever have I been with a woman who has insisted we use a dental dam before cunnilingus ensues.

In all the stories my boys have told me about their experiences with women, they too have never mentioned a woman who has insisted on a dental dam. And most telling of all, in all the conversations I’ve had with my female friends about sex and safe sex, not once have I heard a woman say she insists on a man using a dental dam. But condoms? Oh condoms are always demanded and discussed.

Even in entertainment and media, condoms are casually mentioned or suggested in reference to sex, but not dental dams. In my lifetime I have only seen one movie that took the use of dental dams seriously and that was Booty Call (one of the most underrated movies about safe sex of all time), and I have never seen a commercial stressing the importance of dental dams. A doctor friend of mine said what makes this phenomenon all the more mind boggling is it’s a medical fact our mouths carry a lot more unsavory things than our private parts do (His exact words: “Educated logic being there is more bacteria in terms of quantity and variation on a persons mouth than on their skin, including our private parts”).

So here’s my question and it’s an honest one: What’s up with this, ladies?

I ask the ladies specifically because trust me when I say, if men were told the only way we were getting what we wanted is through the use of a dental dam, I would invest in Saran immediately; that stuff would be flying off the shelves. As one of my good friends once pointed out to me, “Men don’t ever do the right thing on the basis of morals or standards. When we do the right thing, it’s usually because we just don’t want to suffer the consequences of doing the exact opposite.” He’s sort of right. When a man wears a condom, it’s not so she doesn’t get pregnant, it’s so he doesn’t have to worry about getting her pregnant and it’s the only way he probably get any sexual satisfaction. If the closest men can get to the happiest place on earth is a thin layer of latex, sign us up! We’ll take it because we want our orgasm.

And here is where women will comment about how selfish men are, but when we talk about how selfish men are, let’s compartmentalize accordingly.

When it comes to sex, hell yeah, most men are selfish. In the much larger context of life itself? Not so selfish. Most of what men do is for the betterment of their fellow man and the fairer sex, but sex itself? Oh yeah, when we get called off the bench, and get to go into the game, we’re straight ball hogs. We want to be the ones to win the game and we…I’m sorry, I’m getting away from my point and the point I think O’Neal was trying to make.

Safe sex, as an idea, is not literally a woman’s responsibility, but can we all agree there is a disproportionate demand for certain contraceptive methods? I think it’s fair to say none of us have demanded dental dams or heard a demand for dental dams as much as we have condoms, which tells me, women are prone to be just as selfish when it comes to their sexual pleasure as men are, and as O’Neal points out, they’re also more sensitive about safe sex. You don’t see no man being insulted over the request of a condom. Inconvenienced, sure, but insulted, naw. We understand.

But ladies, if a man insisted on a dental dam, would it be insulting? We already know it would be inconvenient as hell, but would a woman take it as a diss?

I can’t wait to hear the answers to this question and the question as to why more women haven’t demanded dental dams in the first place.



Just so I don’t continue to get bombarded with the “Why aren’t men using condoms during fellatio?” comment. First: How about we stop making the question about men and for once ladies answer the question as it applies to you, after all, that’s the way I asked it. Second: Ponder if you will, Patrice’s point about safe sex being a woman’s responsibility and my comment about how the only reason why men are wearing condoms is because we think she won’t let us have sex otherwise. If I was told to put a condom on before fellatio, I would not be insulted, I would be inconvenienced, and I would do it, no hesitation. But again, this post isn’t about what I would do. It’s about what women would do and why they haven’t done this act more. Still waiting for the answer….


The Process: My shins are killing me, the bones themselves. I have pretty good running shoes, so I’m thinking maybe it’s because I run on concrete? A lady friend of mine says I could have shin splints, if so, how do I make it better. Let me know y’all because I couldn’t jump rope this morning due to the pain, although I did run.

Poppin’ Questions Podcast: Now up, Episode 29! Click here to listen. Hit me on my Formspring or email me at for a question to be considered for Episode 30. I’m recording it tonight.

The #UIGM Twitter Conversation: Last night it went down, and boy was it fun. The question I asked was, if you could die in your sleep or in the middle of having sex, which would you choose? Click here to read the recap and if you want to offer up your two cents, hashtag #UIGM anytime.

See a mistake? Hit me here,

Categories: guys, s#x, women Tags:
  • 05girl

    “Never have I been with a woman who has insisted we use a dental dam before cunnilingus ensues.”

    Why aren’t men demanding condoms during fellatio? Do you insist on a condom when fellatio ensues? Because that’s the only apples-to-apples comparison you can make. You do not state this in your post.

  • BellaB

    Unfortunately I think a lot of women aren’t aware of this sort of protection. BUT, to answer your question, if a man insisted on using a dental dam, I’d be impressed with his concern for being safe.

  • Cookie

    By the same aspect, how many so-called “responsible” men use a condom during oral sex? Not many. And why? Because the point of oral is to feel WARM SALIVA ON YOUR PRIVATE PARTS. You aren’t polling them for THEIR responses on the subject. Why not?

  • Anonymous

    Gotta cosign 05girl. In general people don’t use protection during oral sex partly b/c it isn’t considered ‘real’ sex (ever know a virgin who was okay w/ oral?) and we’re not familiar w/ the health risks involved.

    And about your shin splints – just rest. And next time you start running, don’t do so much (e.g. start a 1/2 a mile and build from there)

  • Thetruestfaith

    I don’t think many people even know how to use dental dams to begin with. I use dental dams and flavored condoms, because I’m a safety girl. However, my friends don’t the do same, because they’re just not educated. They’re more concerned about what will happen down there if there’s no condom than they are of what will happen in their mouth. Besides, people generally believe oral sex is safer sex.

    I used to run track. My coach would make us take off our shoes and walk with our feet turned in on the ankles.

  • Renaissance

    I think the issue is that oral sex has yet to receive the type of attention partly because it has been taboo for so long. Women aren’t insisting that their partners use dental dams and men aren’t insisting that their partners use condoms for oral. The other issues is that while we talk about fear of STDs, there is usually a greater fear of unwanted pregnancy. Even if you fear STDs more than unwanted pregnancy, it is easier to say “I don’t want any children right now” than to say “I don’t know what you have,” and so that lack of discussion impacts our actions.

  • Guest

    Until now, i have never heard of a dental dam. Thanks for the update as for safe sex.
    Better safe than sorry. The term dental says enough as to convince one in promoting good health. It is our focus to maintain good health as for living a healthy lifestyle.
    Again, thanks for the update on keeping it real and safe.

  • Gina6180

    I think it just goes back to most only wory about pregnancy, and personally…I don’t perform oral sex often, except when I was married and I would hope most men do not perform oral on ever person you sleep with, hence if I am trusting enough to perform or receive I am OK with the risk. Most just don’t want to risk getting pregnant with anyone unless they wanted to in the confines of a marriage.

  • Ekene Ajufo

    Ironically enough I went to CVS today looking for dental dams because I apparently I am sensitive to some people’s saliva. Guess what I found in the “Family Planning” Aisle? Definitely not a dental dam. I’ve only seen them in person once in my life when I hosted a HIV/STD seminar and picked them up from the health department. In order for me to go and get one of those today, I would have to spend 3 hours at the clinic waiting to get some. It’s a messed up system.

    Like some people I never saw a dental dam referred to in popular culture till I saw Booty Call a few months ago for the first time. I’m definitely a supporter of it, and if they advertise it as much as they do condoms, I’m sure you’d see it pop up a lot more in the bedroom. Saran Wrap just seems archaic but hell I’ll use it anyway! As someone going into health care, I’ve learned about a lot of the bacteria that people carry in their mouths and it’s just not cute.

  • D J

    If we are talking about a man giving a woman germs from his mouth…I’m confused. Now if we are talking about a man being safe, then that’s his issue not the woman’s. If a man looked at me crazy for suggesting the use of a condom (and some do) then I’m out.

  • D J

    If we are talking about a man giving a woman germs from his mouth…I’m confused. Do you kiss with a dental dam? Now if we are talking about a man being safe, then that’s his issue not the woman’s. If a man looked at me crazy for suggesting the use of a condom (and some do) then I’m out.

  • Theresa M.

    You could cut a condom to make a square latex piece more durable than Saran wrap.

  • Reecie

    someone already typed what I was thinking. its not an issue of dental dams vs. condoms–the real issue is most people DONT’ use protection in oral sex period. The only time I’ve heard of condoms used during head is maybe by prostitutes on tv. it goes both ways regarding protection for oral, and both genders are equally guilty.

  • shytown

    You should rest your shins, and ice them. 20mins at a time. I’ve had shin splints several times before and this has worked for me. Take a few days off from running and jumping rope, they both can make matters worse. And if you have the option to run on grass do that. Hope this helps!

  • anansi

    “If the closest men can get to the happiest place on earth is a thin layer of latex, sign us up! We’ll take it because we want our orgasm.”

    ^^^This right here is why men, if they are so concerned, should be demanding that the woman pull out the dental dam before they make their way down there. I’m pretty sure that if a dude told me the only way he would perform oral sex on me is if we used one, I would be like “Alright, no problem!” Why? Because I want that sweet, sweet orgasm and right now you’re telling me I’m not getting one unless we’ve got protection.

  • Sweetilocks

    Honestly, it’s all about the feeling or sensation. Just as these other ladies have pointed out, women don’t have the notion to require dental dams just like men don’t (always) voluntarily promote condom usage, they want 100% of the feeling that comes with that direct contact, just like we (women) do. So it’s very simple. We are reactionary. Plus, this being a patriarchal society, sex education is geared more toward protecting men than women and women are socially conditioned to not even be conscious of such a thing as STI’s transmitted through oral sex. So it’s up to us individually to enforce protection for our bodies. And seeing as how this is 2011, none of us can play dumb about the dangers of unprotected sex, especially if you’re over 17. At this point, you’re just ignoring the possible consequences of having unprotected sex.

  • SAR

    Very good question. I insist on condoms to protect me and I know he should have the same mindset, but don’t care why he wants to or not want to. Although, you can get disease from oral contact, it’s less likely and not thought of as much in terms of having to protect yourself from it in that way.

    So with this mindset, I don’t think about a dental damn for his protection because I keep close tabs on my sexual health and not afraid of giving him anything.

    All that to say, I don’t know. I’ve never even seen one. Even with most health talks, educators don’t bring a dental dam with them, but they bring condoms. Most protection is geared toward women, and not men.

    Interesting question that I don’t have an answer to…well besides the one I gave.

  • Kema

    Like many have said before…. Most PEOPLE do not think of protection when it comes to oral. and… many people are only using condoms for birth control purposes.

  • Evelyn

    Yeah I read that, would have to get the unlubricated ones though that don’t taste horrible!

  • AGirlNamedGOYS

    Clarification: My point is, it should be the other way around. people demand things for their own protection. I.e woman is to demanding condom as is man is to demanding dental damn. Therefore the argument “I demand you protect yourself” makes no sense. Saliva is not one of the 5 means of AIDs transmission.

  • AGirlNamedGOYS

    Was ab to complain ab my other comment coming up but realized there were curse words… take em out for me or something sil vous plait…

  • Amber/BrownBombshellBeauty

    Wow. I don’t know what’s more shocking here. The fact that: 1. People don’t know what dental dams are, 2. Not enough people realize that HIV/AIDS and other STDs can be transmitted through oral sex (if you don’t, you might want to ‘holla at the CDC), 3. Apparently not many people are using protection when performing/receiving oral sex. 4.) Some seem to think that using protection during oral sex is solely about protecting the other person. Um, shouldn’t you be concerned about your own sexual health? Given that today (or rather yesterday, at this hour) was National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I would suggest people do a little research and educate themselves on how to better protect themselves 🙂

  • Alisha

    I’m very aware of dental dams, but to be honest, they never cross my mind until after the fact. For me, just being real, it’s an issue of irresponsibility rather than ignorance.

    I think for a long time, oral sex has always been viewed as an “extra” or “accessory to sex.” Well, until now. It’s a requirement seem like, but before when it still taboo, it wasn’t seen as “real sex.” For some, that still holds true, hence tons of people taking pride in their virginity or not labeling themselves promiscious, yet putting their mouths on everyone in sight. I just read a story last week about oral cancer spreading due to unprotected oral sex. It’s scary out here. Good job bringing this issue up.

    Oh, and Juvenile also refers to safe oral sex in “Keisha” on the Hot Boys album, “…Put the rubber on the d*ck. Handle that please.” Why, oh, why do I know that? Smh

  • Anonymous

    There would not be a need for this post if people would stop and think. The way the author (and others on this list that are sexually loose) is quick to sleep with multiple women and get down upon first meeting, not knowing the sexual history of the woman and obviously having oral sex needs to be examined. In the first damn place, why would you put your mouth, man or woman, on someone’s most intimate part of the body and you don’t know them? Somebody here said that oral sex is required for the first time. WTF???? I can remember a time when that was reserved for the man you where in a RELATIONSHIP with. There is just too much irresponsibility in sexual behavior in these times of sexually transmitted diseases that can KILL you. But who cares, as long as you get your climax on?
    Men look at you crazy when you tell them you don’t have casual sex, that you only do it when you are in a committed relationship after you have taken time to get to know the person. They look at you like you like you are an alien from Mars. Well so be it. My health, not to mention my integrity is more important than a wham bam, thank you mam
    Somerbody needs to explain to me why you go down on someone you don’t know, someone you just met an hour ago in the club. Really? Are you crazy? It is bad enough you are having regular intercourse with someone you don’t know, but oral sex? You might as well take a gun and shoot yourself.

  • Terri W.

    STDs don’t disappear just because you “know” someone, and many of them can show no sign or symptoms, so that person you “know” can still have something and not be aware. I don’t recall the author saying that these activities are strictly happening with folks met an hour ago in the club or other non-committed settings. People in relationships use protection all the time. If you are more conservative about sex, good for you, but please don’t come on here on some “holier than thou” stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Ma. Terri, are you the protecxtor of the this site that you would tell someone how they should phrase their comments? Holier than thou? It seems you totally missed the point.

  • Lu

    This one makes me think, and it also brings back up some old ideas that I had. Thanks 🙂

  • Guest

    I went into a Duane Reade a few years ago and asked for a dental damn. I had to ask 2 people. Both looked at me like I had just asked for their kidney or first born! I agree, they should be more available and more commonplace. Once I got one from a sex shop on 32nd st, and several times since Ive looked for some at the same place, and they never had any. It’s unfortunate.

    btw not sure how many ppl know this, but to put it out there; from my understanding, saran wrap works but only the non-microwavable type, bc it’s non-porous. also, a cut condom.

  • Guest

    Oh, not to mention that when I asked for it at DR, I had to stand in the aisle and give each person a rundown of what a dental dam was. Which I have no problem doing, I mean I was a little embarrassed, but more so, I felt like I was being informative.

  • guest

    I’ve never had a guy EVER suggest a dental dam, and if he did, I would be the FARTHEST thing from offended. I would be really happy (and surprised) he brought up safe sex, period, and I would be totally down to try it.

    Also, who still has casual (vaginal) sex raw these days?? I was listening to a Lil Wayne song the other day and there was some line about him being worried about hitting it raw w his jumpoff (something to that effect) and I was like “who does that??”, to which my friend replied “my boy does! I keep tellin’ him”. Honestly Im shocked that in this day and age people are still willing to gamble w their bodies like that. And I’m not even talking about pregnancies here, that would be my least concern (though still a concern). I was really under the impression that condoms are a no brainer by now…

    That said, last year I dated a guy for several months who insisted we have sex w/o a condom. Guess who never had sex.

  • JoeMommie

     what does “p****y” mean? 

  • JoeMommie

     that well tell you  about there inventory w/ dental damns..not only did you buy the only one in stock, it had prob been there for 2 years!!!

  • Bcallen09

    I think that condoms are demanded by women so much because #1, it protects both of us, not just the man or the woman, but both parties. #2 because men are so much more promicuous than women. They stick it any and everywhere, so who knows what they got. Plus they are usually the ones pursuing, so there you go. I mean  if you want it so bad, you gotta do what we want, lol.

  • Sugar_girl_444

    I think part of it is because it’s not talked about it’s embarrasing.  Everyone knows and talks about condoms but you say ‘wait a second’ and bring out a dental dam and it’s like you’re a freak.  It’s hard enough to get a guy to wear a condom while you give them oral sex.  Not to mention all this emphasis is being put on women and why tehy aren’t demanding dental dams but I’ve also never once heard a guy ask for one.

  • Jade3

    There should be more dental dams out there. I have some but when I first went to look for some there are only a few brands that even sell them. I know you can use latex gloves or a condom but to be honest a condom is not big enough in my opinion. I don’t want to worry which means having it big enough in case it moves or something. I am all for them. It sucks with any barrier but totally worth it for safety!!!! I can not stress that enough!