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Teeth Whitening When Pregnant: Is It Safe? Best Guide for 2023

Even though teeth-whitening procedures are generally considered safe, dentists still

don't recommend them for pregnant women. Discolored teeth are undoubtedly

unattractive, and even though there is an easy fix, expecting mothers should wait until

they give birth to whiten their teeth.


3 pregnant women with baby bumps

The American Dental Association recommends pregnant women postpone whitening

their teeth and other dental enhancements until they give birth or wean babies off

breastfeeding. Even though there is an ongoing debate on whether whitening teeth can

harm the expecting mother and their baby, some argue it's safe, while others are more

reserved.


Stay with us as we investigate whitening teeth and whether it is recommended during pregnancy.


Oral Health Concerns During Pregnancy: Overview

While pregnant, women experience many changes regarding their bodies, teeth, and overall well-being. All bodily changes are accompanied by increased levels of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are the culprits for the negative impact on teeth, causing several oral problems. Most commonly, pregnant women are more prone to gum and teeth sensitivity, cavities, and other teeth-related issues.


During pregnancy, women's diet habits also change; they might start eating certain foods that contribute to tooth discoloration or, in some cases, decay. In that context, those foods can impact oral health. When pregnancy cravings start, some women develop a condition called pica. Pica is explained as an eating disorder "forcing" people to eat non-edible items (dirt and pebbles) or massive amounts of ice.


Further on, pregnancy is likely to cause women to neglect to brush and floss to the same extent they did before pregnancy. Some women have even reported feeling nauseous while flossing and brushing their teeth.This small change in the oral health routine can cause teeth to become more sensitive, less intense, and prone to cavities.


Can You Whiten Teeth While Pregnant?

There's a never ending debate on whether teeth whitening is safe for pregnant women. The topic still calls for more studies and evidence on the safety of teeth-whitening agents commonly used to restore teeth's color in pregnant women.


Additionally, there is no hard scientific evidence showing that everyday teeth-whitening products pose harm to women or their unborn babies. However, according to NatruSmile, it is best not to whiten teeth while pregnant. The fact that women are keener on developing gum and teeth sensitivity while pregnant makes it much more logical to avoid in-practice or at-home teeth-whitening sessions.


Is It Safe for the Baby?

Science is yet to release hard evidence on the fetal impacts of teeth-whitening agents, but it's safe to say that since we're talking about heavy chemicals, it is best not to risk it. If you're determined to whiten your teeth while expecting, the best way to do it is by turning to safe, natural options. Expecting mothers can try some natural remedies for teeth-whitening, such as brushing their teeth with baking soda or a mixture of strawberries and baking soda.


Risks of Whitening Your Teeth While Pregnant

Sadly for women, pregnancy and oral health are not a match made in heaven. As we mentioned, women undergo several body changes while pregnant, including teeth issues like cavities, swollen gums, and damage to the tooth enamel.


While pregnant, women can suffer more dental damage if they whiten their teeth. For instance, everyday teeth-whitening products can cause bad breath and a dry mouth due to the bleaching agents stripping away the natural protective saliva layers in the mouth. By doing this, the mouth is left prone to bacteria formation, and we aren't exaggerating when we say that a mouth full of it is the last thing pregnant women want for themselves (and their babies).


Overly Sensitive Gums and Teeth

The American Pregnancy Association states that swollen gums are normal in pregnant women, and there's no room for panic. However, if you whiten your teeth using standard teeth-whitening options, you risk damage to the gums, which are already swollen and irritated.


This condition can render pregnant women unable to eat or drink since the swelling of the gums causes great pain to the jaw, gums, and teeth.


Damage to the Tooth Enamel

Another risk of whitening teeth during pregnancy is the possible damage to the tooth enamel, which is the tooth's natural protective coating. Some teeth-whitening products contain massive amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which can cause tremendous damage to the enamel and dentin when applied to the tooth.


Since pregnancy causes dramatic changes in the hygiene habits of women and their eating habits, the enamel is already at risk. In that context, protecting your teeth's natural protective layer as much as possible during pregnancy is essential.


Irritation of the Gums

While going through the miracle of pregnancy, there's the inevitable hormonal impact on the body, affecting the gums, too. Given that pregnant women are prone to gum issues and oversensitivity, whitening teeth with common (and popular) teeth-whitening products will only add "fuel to the fire."


The chemicals typically used in teeth-whitening products aggravate the gums, rendering them swollen and sore to the touch. In such a state, irritated gums can cause pain, serious discomfort, and bleeding.


Wrapping-Up: Teeth Whitening During Pregnancy

We all want to look our best when essential things happen to us, but for women, looking (and feeling) their best while pregnant is probably at the top of their lists. The tangible things, like nice-looking teeth, brows in check, and radiant skin, might seem superficial to others, but to women, they make them feel confident, beautiful, and pleased with themselves.


A bright smile is precious, but what if you can't have it? One of the scenarios where whiter teeth are (temporarily) out of reach is during pregnancy. But, hey, not all is lost!

Teeth whitening products contain heavy chemicals that might not be considered safe for the baby, which is why many reputable orthodontists recommend expecting mothers postpone a teeth-bleaching session until after giving birth.


Even though in-practice and at-home teeth-whitening sessions are a no-go during pregnancy, the good news is that all-natural remedies for whiter teeth are entirely safe for both the baby and the mother-to-be. If you're an expecting mother, try brushing your teeth with baking soda and some mashed strawberries and put the teeth-whitening kit aside until your baby arrives.


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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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