Metal Dental Braces Can Rip a Condom and Tear Sensitive Tissues, Increasing Potential for STDs

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Metal braces can scratch genital areas or rip a hole in a condom, increasing the potential for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cautions Boston cosmetic dentist Helaine Smith.

Teens engaging in sexual practices such as oral sex or French kissing should be cautious if they or their partners wear metal braces on their teeth, said Boston cosmetic dentist Helaine Smith (

Metal braces can scratch delicate genital areas, tear sensitive mouth tissues, or rip a hole in a condom. Such incidents increase the potential for sexually transmitted diseases and blood-borne pathogens, including HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, and hepatitis B and C.

“Most teens and young adults don’t realize that metal dental braces can do some damage,” said Dr. Smith. “And while new dental technologies such as Invisalign and plastic braces have been introduced, the fact is, many dentists still rely on the traditional metal braces and their nickel titanium brackets, wires, and ties. Even plastic braces still use metal wires and ties that can cause damage.”

Because the metal brackets and wires can catch on the thin latex of condoms and dental dams and cause microscopic tears, Dr. Smith advises teens and young adults to carefully consider whether to engage in oral sex with partners who wear wire braces. Safer sex practices also include changing the condom before engaging in another sexual activity in order to reduce the risk of STDs and/or unintended pregnancy – even if one thinks the condom has not been damaged. Dental dams, which are also made of latex, are used when performing oral sex on a woman and protect against herpes and genital warts. Dr. Smith advises young adults to also exercise caution when participating in long kissing sessions with partners who wear braces because the brackets can tear delicate mouth tissues and increase the exposure to blood-borne pathogens and STDs such as HIV/AIDs.

Sexually transmitted diseases are among the most common infections in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 15.3 million new cases of STDs are reported each year in the U.S. Despite STD prevention efforts, the U.S. has the highest rates of STDs in the industrialized world. The CDC recommends that one not engage in sexual activities with partners who exhibit signs of STDs, including mouth or genital rashes, sores or discharge.

About Helaine Smith, DMD

Helaine Smith is a practicing cosmetic dentist located in Boston, Massachusetts and a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Academy of General Dentistry, and the Academy of Forensic Science. Dr. Smith is an expert on oral health and how it relates to the body’s physical health. She recently completed a full-mouth reconstruction course that only 2 percent of U.S. dentists have taken as well as an executive MBA program at Suffolk University. More about Dr. Smith and her practice can be found at


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Helaine Smith, DMD