The physical changes and fatigue accompanying pregnancy can affect an expectant mother’s self-esteem. It makes sense that pregnant women may want to lift their spirits by brightening their smiles. Unfortunately, teeth whitening is still not recommended during pregnancy.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Why teeth whitening during pregnancy is not safe.
- The oral complications of pregnancy.
- Alternative methods of whitening teeth, for example, toothpaste and mouthwash
- Natural teeth whitening remedies: are they good for you?
- How to maintain good oral hygiene during pregnancy.
If It’s Not Unsafe, Why Can’t I Have My Teeth Whitened During Pregnancy?
The answer is that it’s not proven unsafe or safe. There isn’t enough evidence for a conclusive answer either way. While it is generally believed that teeth whitening during pregnancy is probably safe, there’s too much at stake to roll the dice for a cosmetic procedure.
There are chemicals involved in a teeth whitening procedure. The active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide. When used correctly, hydrogen peroxide is safe and has only minor side effects, the most common of which is tooth sensitivity.
But during pregnancy, hormone variations put expectant mothers at a higher risk for tooth sensitivity and other complications. Adding hydrogen peroxide to that mix isn’t good for a pregnant woman’s oral health.
To protect the baby and your gums and enamel, it’s a good idea to schedule your tooth whitening procedure after your delivery date.
Tooth whitening is safe during breastfeeding, but it should be avoided during pregnancy, according to the American Dental Association.
What Oral Complications Occur During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a person is at higher risk of gum disease and thinning enamel. Hormones often cause gum irritation or even bleeding from the gums. If this irritation becomes too severe, it can worsen into periodontal disease.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of tooth sensitivity and cavities between hormonal changes and morning sickness that can wear down the enamel. The last thing you’d want to do is put strong chemicals on teeth already experiencing so much wear and tear.
Can Pregnant Women Use Whitening Toothpaste and Mouthwash?
For toothpaste, the answer is ‘yes.’ For mouthwashes, the answer is ‘it depends.’
Whitening toothpaste usually doesn’t have hydrogen peroxide as an ingredient, and if hydrogen peroxide is included, the amount is so small it’s negligible.
Toothpaste also doesn’t remain on your teeth for an extended period. Cosmetic whitening procedures require chemicals to be left on your teeth and sometimes require numerous applications to achieve results.
While whitening toothpaste is safe, the same can’t be said for whitening mouthwashes.
In general, all mouthwashes that include alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. If you find a whitening toothpaste without alcohol, you must consult your dentist and OB/GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) before using it.
It’s best to consult with them before using any mouthwash during pregnancy since using the wrong one could pose a risk.
Are there ways to whiten my teeth naturally?
American Dental Association does not recommend DIY teeth whitening.
According to popular sources, many natural ways to whiten teeth during pregnancy exist. One is applying natural products with whitening powers to your teeth. These include:
- baking soda
- apple cider vinegar
One caveat with apple cider vinegar is that it’s important to wait a few minutes after rinsing with the vinegar before brushing your teeth. Otherwise, you can damage your teeth.
However, many myths and beliefs are involved in the whitening procedures cited above. The best you can do is avoid foods known to stain teeth. These include:
- red wine
- dark red juices (like cherry or cranberry)
- soy sauce
- tomato-based sauces
And do the following:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a non-bristled toothbrush. Brush them for at least 2 minutes each time. Ask your dentist to show you how to brush your teeth correctly.
- If you want to use a whitening toothpaste, choose the one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Otherwise, choose a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss (clean between) your teeth at least once a day. Remove any food particles stuck there to avoid plaque formation.
- Quit smoking or using tobacco products. Smoking escalates gum disease.
- According to National Health Service (NHS), a salt rinse once a day decreases the chance of gum inflammation. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and swirl the water around your mouth before spitting it out.
- Do not forget to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings
What Else Should I Do to Care for My Teeth During Pregnancy?
You can protect your teeth and gums from damage during pregnancy by practicing good oral hygiene. You should also continue to see your dentist for cleanings on a regular basis.
A great deal of discoloration of the teeth can be avoided simply by having your teeth cleaned. Your dentist will remove the tartar and build-up that leads to staining.
Pregnant women should rinse with water after being sick to protect the enamel from the acidic damage caused by morning sickness and acid reflux. The more acid lingers on your teeth, the more time it has to wear away at the enamel.
Lastly, since pregnant women are more prone to cavities, it’s wise to limit sugary snacks. This can be difficult with the cravings caused by pregnancy hormones, but it’s one of the easiest ways to prevent cavities.
Instead, snack on the following:
- Fresh fruit
- Plain yogurt
READ MORE: What Causes Black Gums Around Your Teeth?
Teeth whitening during pregnancy isn’t known to be dangerous. However, it’s highly recommended that expectant mothers put off this cosmetic procedure until after their pregnancy. Exposing pregnant women to those chemicals unnecessarily isn’t a good idea.
Not only is it important for pregnant women to protect their babies, but also their teeth. Oral changes occur during pregnancy that makes the teeth and gums more vulnerable. Intense and prolonged exposure to hydrogen peroxide could harm a pregnant woman’s oral health.
There’s no reason to take all of that risk when there are so many safer alternatives. By avoiding foods that stain and practicing good oral hygiene, expectant mothers can keep their teeth from staining or discoloring.
Whitening toothpaste is safe, but all mouthwashes (including non-whitening ones) should be cautiously approached.
You can always schedule that first teeth-whitening appointment as a post-delivery treat to yourself and a way to take time for self-care.
- American Dental Association. “Pregnant? 9 Questions You May Have About Your Dental Health.”
- American Dental Association. “Natural Teeth Whitening: Fact vs. Fiction.”
- National Health Service. “Have a healthy diet in pregnancy.”
- The Wall Street Journal. “Pregnant? Skip Teeth Whitener.”