Are Teeth Whitening Strips Safe During Pregnancy?

Are Teeth Whitening Strips Safe During Pregnancy?

December 1, 2023

Pregnancy brings many changes to a woman’s body, including sometimes noticeable changes to the teeth and gums. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can increase sensitivity in teeth and gums, and the increase in acid reflux that many women experience can erode tooth enamel over time. For this reason, many pregnant women think about whitening their teeth during pregnancy to help counteract some of those changes. But is it safe to use teeth whitening strips when you’re expecting?

Understanding Teeth Whitening Strips: How Do They Work?

Teeth whitening strips like Crest Whitestrips contain low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, a bleaching agent that helps remove deep-set stains on teeth and lighten tooth color a few shades. The peroxide content in popular over-the-counter whitening strips is usually between 5-15%, much lower than the concentration used in professional whitening treatments at the dentist’s office near you.

When using teeth whitening strips at home, you place the strips over your teeth, allowing the peroxide gel to sit on your teeth for 30 minutes to an hour, once or twice a day. The peroxide penetrates the enamel and lightens the natural pigments both on the surface and deep in the tooth structure. Based on your regimen, results are seen in a few days to a couple of weeks.

Pregnancy and Oral Health: What Changes Occur During Pregnancy?

Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can increase blood flow to the mouth, gums, and teeth. Higher progesterone levels increase inflammation and sensitivity. Gingivitis, a gum infection caused by plaque buildup, is common during pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis affects 60-75% of pregnant women. Symptoms include swollen, tender gums that may bleed easily when brushing.

Morning sickness and acid reflux, especially during the first trimester, can erode tooth enamel over time due to excess stomach acid. Enamel erosion exposes the dentin layer underneath, making teeth look yellowed and sensitive.

Pregnant women also tend to have increased cravings for sugary or acidic foods and beverages that boost the risk for cavities and tooth decay.

Potential Risks: Why Safety Concerns Arise During Pregnancy?

With all the oral health changes occurring during pregnancy, it’s normal to have concerns about using teeth whitening strips or other products. Here are the main safety issues to consider:

  • Sensitivity – Whitening treatments further increase sensitivity in already-sensitive pregnant gums and teeth. It could lead to considerable discomfort.
  • Gum irritation – Whitening product ingredients like peroxide or alcohol may cause gum irritation, inflammation, or bleeding in delicate pregnant gums.
  • Swallowing peroxide – Nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy make it possible for whitening gel to be accidentally swallowed, which could be hazardous.
  • Effects on fetal development – Not enough research has been done to determine if whitening products adversely affect fetal health and development. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid it.

Consulting Your Dentist: Importance of Professional Guidance During Pregnancy

Because of the oral health changes that occur during pregnancy, it is especially critical to maintain your regular dental exams and hygiene cleanings. Your dentist in Knoxville can monitor any issues that develop and provide professional cleanings to remove disease-causing plaque that’s common when gum sensitivity prevents regular flossing and brushing.

A pregnant woman should consult her dentist before considering any oral health treatment, including over-the-counter whitening strips. A dentist takes your current oral health status, sensitivity issues, and stage of pregnancy into account before recommending any dental treatments deemed safe. If strips or other whitening products are not advised for your situation, your dentist may suggest waiting until after the baby arrives to pursue teeth whitening options.

Possible Side Effects: Identifying Unwanted Reactions to Whitening Strips

In addition to gum irritation and tooth sensitivity, here are other side effects that may occur when using teeth whitening strips during pregnancy:

  • Increased nausea or vomiting due to swallowing the peroxide gel
  • Dehydration and dry mouth, a common pregnancy symptom, may worsen.
  • Damage to tooth enamel due to increased acidity in the mouth
  • Gum inflammation, bleeding, swelling, or receding gums
  • Headaches or dizziness

Discontinue use and consult your family dentist near you if these concerning side effects develop when using whitening strips during pregnancy.

When is the best time for teeth-whitening procedures after pregnancy?

Once your baby is born, most dentists recommend waiting until at least six months postpartum before using any teeth-whitening products. The main reasons are:

  • Hormones are still stabilizing after delivery and during breastfeeding. Sensitivity may remain high.
  • Prioritize getting the nutrition you need during breastfeeding over cosmetic procedures.
  • Oral health should improve after delivery if you maintain great brushing and flossing habits.
  • Whitening procedures are safest when you no longer have regular nausea and acid reflux.

Discuss timing for post-pregnancy teeth whitening dentist at your 6-month cleaning to determine if your oral health status makes it favorable to start treatments. Take care of your oral health throughout pregnancy, and know that those pearly whites can be easily brightened when the time is right after the baby!

In summary, while home teeth whitening strips may seem like an easy fix during pregnancy, it’s best to avoid their use due to potential risks to your and your developing baby’s health. Always check with Knoxville Dental Associates first and focus on thorough oral hygiene habits throughout pregnancy. Maintain regular professional cleanings as well. It will keep your smile bright, healthy, and ready for those pregnancy photos until you can safely whiten it after delivery!