Teeth Whitening When Pregnant: Is It Safe?

Pregnant Woman and Partner Relax on Couch

Everyone wants a whiter, brighter smile, but undergoing teeth whitening procedures may not be the best idea for an expectant mother. Although the associated risks to a developing fetus may be extremely small, why take that risk at all? Here's where the facts stand on teeth whitening when pregnant.

Can You Whiten Teeth While Pregnant?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, cosmetic treatments that are not immediately necessary, such as teeth whitening, should be postponed until after delivery. The American Dental Association (ADA) agrees, stating that due to the potential safety concerns regarding bleaching materials, pregnant women should delay any teeth whitening procedures. Discuss your whitening options with your dentist and agree on a treatment timeline that works for you. Also, consider the different methods of teeth whitening and ask for advice on what will work best for your individual situation.

Oral Health Concerns During Pregnancy

Pregnancy, and all its associated bodily changes, can result in a number of oral health effects, all of which can be managed with the help of your dentist. According to the ADA, these may include:

  • Gingivitis, or swollen and bleeding gums aggravated by inadequate home care and hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • Tooth erosion related to an increase in the acidity of saliva caused by morning sickness
  • Cavities due to cravings for sugary foods
  • Pyogenic granulomas, which are round growths on the gums due to hormonal changes

Talk to your dentist about your treatment options if you suspect that you may be experiencing any of these conditions. If you need more extensive dental work while pregnant, the American Pregnancy Association recommends having treatment during the second trimester. This is because, by the time you reach the third trimester, it may be difficult for you to lie on your back for an extended period of time.

Ensuring Dental Health When Pregnant

There are many things you can do before and during pregnancy to preserve your dental health and prevent problems. The ADA outlines the steps an expectant mother can take to ensure a healthy mouth during pregnancy. Some of these include:

  • Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily to remove plaque and food debris
  • Eating a balanced diet, limiting snacks and avoiding sugary drinks and foods
  • Maintaining a schedule of regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy for professional cleanings and assessments
  • Protecting your teeth by rinsing with a mixture of baking soda and warm water to neutralize any stomach acids if you are experiencing morning sickness
  • Following any home care recommendations or required treatments your dentist may suggest, such as an antibacterial mouth rinse

Consult with your dentist about what to expect during pregnancy to make sure your oral health is in check. By postponing elective treatments such as teeth whitening when pregnant and by being meticulous with your oral hygiene, you can keep your focus on your pregnancy and the excitement of welcoming a newborn into your family — and not on untimely dental problems.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During PREGNANCY

To help minimize any risks during pregnancy, here is some general advice and some common conditions to be on the lookout for:

  1. Gum disease – during pregnancy, teeth and gums need special attention. Regular tooth brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy.

  2. Enamel erosion – for some women, morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy. Along with the nausea comes additional acid that, if left in your mouth, can erode your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control.

  3. Dry mouth – pregnancy dry mouth can put women at a greater risk for problems such as tooth decay and infections. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva.

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