Teeth Whitening and Pregnancy: Is it Safe to Whiten Your Teeth while Pregnant?

It is often said that when pregnant, women appear more radiant than usual, and science tells us that this is down to the skin receiving more blood and oil during pregnancy. However, this healthy glow does not extend to the teeth. If you are currently pregnant but still enjoying an active social life, you may be wondering if it is okay to whiten your teeth. After all, your skin, hair and nails look amazing. Why not get your teeth whitened too?

But, besides the obvious beauty benefits, there is the question of safety, both to you and your baby. Teeth whitening products, whether in-office or over-the-counter, contain bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide. Are these chemicals safe?

No Research is Currently Available on this Matter

Despite the fact that this question is one that comes up quite often, there is very little research in the area. Certainly, there isn't enough scientific evidence to say whether teeth-whitening while pregnant is safe or unsafe. But because of the chemical involved, i.e. hydrogen peroxide, you may be better off waiting until later. This is for several reasons.

Your Body May Absorb the Bleaching Agent

It is known that hydrogen peroxide damages oral tissue during the whitening process, but the true extent of this damage is unknown. The gums of some patients may bleed, while others may experience gum recession and severe sensitivity. However, when the bleaching agent comes into contact with oral tissue, just how much is absorbed?

A better question would be; what dangers does this absorption present to you and your unborn baby? Whenever chemicals are involved, medical health practitioners always hold off treatment until after the baby is born as they are unsure of how the chemicals will affect the baby's development.  

Your Gums are More Sensitive in Pregnancy

Although increased blood flow during pregnancy can leave your skin glowing with health and vigour, your gums may not be so lucky. Because of the increased blood flow, the gums of pregnant women often become swollen and sore. This leaves them more sensitive than usual. During this time, it is essential that you practice good oral hygiene to keep gum disease and infection at bay.

As mentioned earlier, hydrogen peroxide, especially in concentrated amounts, can damage gum tissue. While your gums are extra sensitive then, it is not advisable to expose them to a bleaching agent. This could cause gum recession, bleeding, and even lead to gum disease.

Amalgam Fillings React with Hydrogen Peroxide

Many dentists have stopped using amalgam or silver fillings. However, if you had one or more silver fillings placed years ago and are yet to have them replaced, you should consider replacing them before opting to have your teeth whitened.

According to a study in 2006, hydrogen peroxide reacts with silver fillings, causing them to release a higher amount of metal ions than usual. As one of the metals used to create silver fillings is mercury (Hg), you should avoid whitening treatments even when not pregnant; at least until your amalgam fillings have been replaced with a safer material like composite resin or porcelain.

Wait Until You no Longer Breastfeed Your Baby

You should also wait until after you have stopped breastfeeding your baby before having your teeth whitened as it is not known how hydrogen peroxide might affect your body. Don't assume that because there are no studies confirming the dangers of hydrogen peroxide that you and your baby are safe. As long as you are breastfeeding, refrain from whitening your teeth, just to be sure that you and your baby are safe.

If you want to whiten your teeth while pregnant, try experimenting with different whitening toothpastes to see what works best for you. While the results won't be quite as noticeable, at least you can be sure that your baby is safe.