August 18, 2021 by Dr. Abhi Singh

Teeth Whitening While Pregnant: Is It Safe?

***Please be informed that this article is for informational and educational purposes only. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice from your doctor or obstetrician. Please consult with your doctor or dentist before undergoing any dental treatments while pregnant***

Pregnancy is an overwhelming time for a woman and her family, and it can be a time of increased vulnerability for oral health. Many changes are happening in nine months, including the changes that will happen to your teeth. It’s essential to take care of yourself and be proactive in caring for your oral health.

Pregnant women need to be aware of any dental treatment they may need. A woman should always consult her doctor before undergoing any dental procedure while pregnant. While there are many benefits to getting oral care during pregnancy, a woman must always consider the risks associated with any dental work before deciding whether or not she wants to go through with it. 

If you’re expecting and want to know the risks involved in teeth whitening, this is a fantastic blog post for you. We’ll be covering how teeth whitening can affect your baby, as well as some tips on what to do if tooth whitening while pregnant isn’t an option.

Can I Whiten My Teeth While Pregnant?

Dentists may recommend delaying any non-essential dental procedures such as teeth whitening while you’re pregnant to avoid the risk of harming your developing baby.

Whitening treatments are best avoided during the third trimester of pregnancy, as lying still while the gel is applied and cured may make a pregnant person feel uncomfortable.

You should not use a home teeth whitening kit if its hydrogen peroxide concentration is higher than six percent. Higher concentrations can damage your tissues; thus, only professionals should apply the whitener at that strength.

Are Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kits Safe While Pregnant?

Though these are available over-the-counter, they should not be used during pregnancy or even when breastfeeding.

According to a 2014 review article, while lower amounts of hydrogen peroxide are more common in kits sold over the counter than those used by professional dentists, they still pose a risk for potential user error.

It’s safer to have your dentist apply a higher concentration of chemicals rather than to use a low concentration on your own. However, it’s always best to avoid those kinds of treatments during pregnancy.

Is In-Chair Teeth Whitening Safe?

Currently, there is no research data concerning the safety of professional whitening during pregnancy. In the absence of any scientific evidence, it is difficult to know whether or not teeth whitening is safe during pregnancy. The percentages of chemicals used in teeth whitening procedures are higher than we usually come into contact with.

Getting your teeth whitened while pregnant may not put your health at risk, but since no one is sure and your gums are more vulnerable during pregnancy, it’s best to wait until after birth.

Popular Alternatives For Teeth Whitening And What You Need To Know

Whitening products may contain chemicals that concern people because they’re thought to potentially damage tooth enamel. Avoid harsh chemicals and whiten your teeth naturally with these options.

Oil pulling – This Ayurvedic technique is famous for removing bacteria that build up to produce yellow plaque. To do oil pulling, you swish a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes.

Coconut oil – Coconut oil may prevent tooth decay and gingivitis, but there is no scientific evidence that it will whiten your teeth. However, if you are keen on trying coconut oil for this purpose, then it probably won’t do any harm. Moreover, a lot of people claim that oil pulling helps whiten and brighten their teeth.

Coconut oil offers many health benefits. It is also high in lauric acid, which has been found to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.

Brush with baking soda – Baking soda is a popular ingredient in toothpaste, as it has natural whitening properties. It is a mild abrasive that can remove surface stains on teeth. Since baking soda creates an alkaline environment in the mouth, it inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Although this product won’t work overnight to make your teeth whiter, you should notice an improvement in the appearance of your teeth after several uses.

The effectiveness of plain baking soda for teeth whitening has not yet been proven, but toothpaste containing baking soda does have a notable whitening effect. One recent study found that toothpaste with baking soda was better than standard toothpaste at removing yellow stains from teeth. Moreover, based on a review of five additional studies, it has been found that toothpaste containing baking soda is more effective at removing plaque from teeth than non-baking soda toothpaste.

Apples, Pineapples, Strawberries – Apples are rich in malic acid that works to wash away acids. Also, toothpaste containing bromelain, a compound found in pineapples, can help whiten teeth. However, there is no evidence that eating these fruits can give you a brighter smile.

Furthermore, research conducted in Operative Dentistry found that brushing with a mixture of strawberries and baking soda had no whitening effects. Despite the findings, people still use it. The problem is that the citric acid found in strawberries can cause enamel erosion on your teeth.

Apple Cider Vinegar – They say it helps to gargle with apple cider before brushing your teeth to kill bacteria and get rid of stains, thus whitening your teeth. However, no scientific studies confirm the claims, so don’t expect it to make your teeth brighter.

Good dental hygiene – Brushing and flossing every day can help make your teeth whiter by reducing bacteria in your mouth and inhibiting plaque buildup. Fluoride toothpaste and flossing work together to remove tooth staining and plaque. 

Furthermore, a professional cleaning can keep your teeth cleaner, brighter, and healthier.

What Dental Treatments Are Safe for Pregnant Women?

Untreated dental problems can have a detrimental impact on your oral health and lead to complications such as tooth decay. Your dental health has a substantial effect on your general well-being, which can positively influence your baby.

Your dentist may recommend that you schedule appointments for the duration of your pregnancy to check the condition of your teeth and gums, make adjustments to your oral care routine or perform treatments needed.

X-rays

Modern dental x-ray is considerably safer for expectant mothers and their unborn babies. The limited radiation dose from a single x-ray is usually not enough to cause any developmental defects, and your dentist will use a lead apron and thyroid guard when necessary to ensure that your baby isn’t overexposed to radiation.

Though it is typically safe to have x-rays completed during a routine dental check-up, your dentist may recommend that you avoid them in the first trimester. However, if you experience a dental emergency or severe pain without an identifiable source, your dentist might still take x-rays to perform the treatment effectively.

Anaesthetic

If a pregnant woman needs to have dental work done, she should inform her dentist about the pregnancy in advance to adjust treatment plans accordingly. It’s essential so they can make appropriate decisions, including choosing anaesthetic techniques with gentle doses of drugs and setting specific levels of anaesthesia so as not to harm the unborn child.

It is important to avoid using anesthetics containing felypressin during pregnancy as they constrict blood vessels. A dental practitioner would know if they use an anaesthetic that contains this compound and use an alternative instead. You can also ask them any questions or concerns you might have about it.

To keep your body and baby from being put under stress, the dentist will use a low level of anesthesia for whatever type of procedure they need to do.

Can I Get a Tooth Pulled when Pregnant?

In some cases, a tooth can no longer be repaired and needs to be extracted. When it is badly decayed or severely injured, it’s not always possible to save the tooth. If this happens, extractions may be necessary to protect oral health and prevent future problems with that specific area of the mouth.

Dentists may advise getting extractions in your second trimester because it will allow you to avoid x-rays in the first trimester and the distress of lying on your back for an extended period of time during the third trimester.

Does a Root Canal Affect Pregnancy?

If tooth decay reaches the inside of your dental pulp, it can be excruciating. A root canal treatment provides pain relief by removing infected tissue to prevent more pain from developing further down the line. It also restores the tooth crown, so there is no need to extract the tooth.

If you have a dental emergency, it can be treated at any stage of pregnancy and should not be delayed. However, because x-rays are involved, the ideal treatment time should take place during the second trimester.

Can I Have Orthodontic Treatment While Pregnant?

If you are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is best to continue treatments during your pregnancy. It’s even possible to have your braces fitted during pregnancy, but your orthodontist may recommend waiting until after giving birth since sometimes complications may arise.

Getting braces during pregnancy requires x-rays, which your dentist might be concerned about, especially during the first trimester. Some changes happen to your mouth and teeth during pregnancy, which means you might need brace adjustments or new impressions for your aligners. These modifications can raise the total cost of the treatment.

Some pregnant women have swollen gums and other facial tissues, which can irritate traditional braces. Moreover, your dental professional may give you safe gels as pain medication to reduce discomfort. If you only need to fix a minor misalignment, your dentist may recommend removable plastic aligners.

Potential Risks for You and Your Baby

If you are pregnant, make a point of visiting your dentist sooner rather than later, as this will reduce the risk of complications.

For many women, the decision to address some dental issues during pregnancy can be difficult. To make an informed decision about the best treatment options for your health in consideration of your child’s life, it is crucial to understand what types of treatments can and can not be performed during this time.

  • Damage to gum tissue

Pregnant women are prone to gingivitis due to hormonal changes in their bodies. Pregnancy gingivitis often involves inflammation and swelling on your gums as well as inside the mouth.

Pregnant women are prone to gingivitis due to hormonal changes in their bodies. Pregnancy gingivitis often involves inflammation and swelling on your gums as well as inside the mouth. Applying hydrogen peroxide to your inflamed gums and soft tissues will undoubtedly cause discomfort and temporary damage.

  • Tooth sensitivity 

If you have whitened your teeth in the past and experienced sensitivity, it is likely due to high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, which can seep through the enamel and irritate tooth nerves. These effects can be exacerbated because many pregnant women already feel increasingly sensitive to changes in the environment.

  • Unknown effects on the baby

The effects of hydrogen peroxide on a developing baby are still largely unknown since no study has been done. Cosmetic dentistry, like teeth whitening, is an optional procedure. Therefore, it’s best to be safe and avoid it so as not to cause any damage. They could be harmless to the developing baby, but we need to preserve their safety and assume that it is better to err on the side of caution.

Final Thoughts

We know that pregnant Australian women are often looking for ways to improve their appearance and maintain a healthy lifestyle so that teeth whitening can be an attractive option. 

Pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation, but it can also be stressful. It’s important to know what you are putting into your body during this time and the products that you use on yourself or your unborn child. 

We understand that you want to look your best while pregnant, and it’s understandable that many patients have concerns about professional teeth whitening. However, there are some things to consider before taking the plunge into a teeth-whitening treatment during pregnancy. Our team is here for you. Give us a call at 08 9532 0247 or email us with any questions. It would be an honour to work together on achieving your goals as well as helping preserve and protect your beautiful smile at every stage of life.

AboutDr. Abhi Singh
Dr Abhi is a member of the Australian Dental Association and loves living and working in our community. He has over a decade of experience in all aspects of dentistry with a special interest in implants, wisdom teeth removal and cosmetic dentistry.