While many consider pregnancy and childbirth to be miracles, there's no denying the bodily changes that occur during this time can do a number on a mother's self-esteem. Improving your smile by whitening your teeth can brighten your spirit, but you may be wondering if it's safe to undergo this procedure while pregnant or nursing. Here's what you need to know about this issue.
Teeth Whitening is Presumed Safe
Getting your teeth whitened in the dentist's office or using at-home products is presumed to be safe. Although the teeth whitening products use chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, you don't swallow enough of the substance to be harmful to yourself or your child. While it's true that some of the chemical may be absorbed into the bloodstream via the gums, it is usually metabolized by your body long before it reaches the fetus or your breast milk.
The keywords here, however, are "presumed safe". It's important to know that no studies have been conducted on whether tooth whitening products have an effect—positive or negative—on babies. Additionally, it is assumed mothers would only be exposed to normal amounts of these products during pregnancy and nursing. Using too many tooth whitening products could, in theory, increase the risk of adverse effects to yourself and your child.
Therefore, it's recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers wait until after giving birth and/or nursing to get their teeth whitened or only use these products minimally during that time.
Alternatives to Chemical Whitening
If you want to whiten your teeth while you are pregnant or nursing, there are alternative options that don't use chemicals to get the job done. Be aware, though, that you may not achieve the same results as what you would get from a professional whitening product or it may take longer to get to the shade you want.
One solution is to brush your teeth with apple cider vinegar (ACV). Vinegar is a natural stain remover, which is why it is commonly used as a household cleaner. Brushing your teeth once per day with ACV for about a month or so can help lighten your teeth. Another option is to rub your teeth with orange or lemon peels (or lemon essential oil). Like apple cider vinegar, orange and lemon peels contain natural acids that have been known to remove stains.
Be aware, though, the acids in these products can damage tooth enamel. Therefore, it's important to be gentle when brushing your teeth with these solutions and to follow up with baking soda or enamel-protecting toothpaste.
For more information about whitening teeth during pregnancy or breastfeeding, contact a cosmetic dentist in your area.