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Why a Pregnant or Breastfeeding Woman SHOULD NOT do an In Clinic Teeth Whitening treatment

Pregnancy can be tough, just ask your mother! It can be a very testing time in a woman’s life, and while emotions are high one can become very sensitive to even the smallest of things that would not normally trigger a response. Certainly the way a woman feels about her appearance will always be important. Whether it’s one’s weight, skin, or any other part of one’s appearance, it has the capacity to make you feel either great about yourself, or really down.

While we all have our own set of things we care about, many women take great pride in their smile. A healthy and pearly white smile can make a woman feel attractive, and increase her confidence, while an unhealthy smile can make a woman feel self conscious, and limit her desire for social interaction. During pregnancy when a woman is looking for many different ways to take her mind of the emotions, and increase her self-esteem levels, a teeth whitening procedure seems like a useful and positive idea, but the fact is that there just has not been enough research performed to truly understand the side effects of clinical teeth whitening during pregnancy and it should be avoided – at least until reputable data is available.

So What’s the Big Deal?

As we previously stated, there has been no certain evidence to show that teeth whitening is harmful for a woman during pregnancy, however, if you flip the coin there is also limited research to suggest that it isn’t harmful as well. And as the old saying goes – ‘better to be safe than sorry’.

It is due to the lack of knowledge and research in this field (pregnancy and clinical teeth whitening), that the Federal Dental Association (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that one should not perform any form of teeth whitening treatment during pregnancy, and post pregnancy (during the breastfeeding stage).

While there are many kinds of teeth whitening procedures (LED, UV Light), the most common nowadays is the LED treatment. This is performed in a clinical setting and uses hydrogen peroxide gel as a solution, which is applied directly on one’s teeth followed by the application of the LED light. This increases the chemical breakdown of the hydrogen peroxide molecules releasing free radicals, resulting in the removal of tough stains and giving one a whiter set of teeth (often 5 – 15 shades whiter).

During this procedure (and all other similar teeth whitening procedures), hydrogen peroxide solution does get swallowed, and this chemical can be quite risky for the baby and the mother, particularly during breastfeeding when there is a chance that hydrogen peroxide can find it’s way into a mother’s milk, which could then be passed on to the baby.

Another adverse reaction can be that the lights which are applied to one’s teeth during the teeth whitening procedure. These lights are very strong and operate at a certain wavelength, and researchers are still not certain of the effect that these lights can have on pregnant and breastfeeding women.

During pregnancy, the first trimester – which is the first three months, is recognized as the toughest stage. During this stage the fetus is very delicate because it is in the stage of formation. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that the mother and baby are not exposed to anything which could be potentially harmful to both the mothers and the baby’s health – even the smallest upsets have been known to cause a miscarriage.

Teeth whitening, a procedure performed in the field of cosmetic dentistry, and more often than not it is not so important that a woman should risk her baby’s life for this kind of treatment. Even if a woman is healthy both physically and mentally, dentists do not recommend clinical teeth whitening procedures to pregnant women at all. Now, the good news is that after a woman has given birth and she is passed the breast feeding stage most dentists agree that it is safe to whiten one’s teeth via clinical treatment – so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt about it – a nice set of pearly white teeth look beautiful. However, like all cosmetic procedures there are risks involved. Such risks can be elevated depending on a person’s health status. When a woman is pregnant she can be emotional and often sensitive due to all the hormones in her body, and appearance can really matter. While teeth whitening can be an appealing and not so intrusive procedure to have to improve one’s confidence and make a woman feel better, we strongly advise against it. One should never risk her health or the health of her baby for a superficial treatment; particularly one that is not urgent nor is it to treat a life threatening disease or illness. Teeth whitening procedures can be performed at any stage of one’s life, multiple times, and the procedure generally takes under one hour, so time is on one’s side.

The problem as we stated earlier is not with the extreme health risks, the problem is with the lack of research in the field, and the fact that there is still no concluding evidence to suggest teeth whitening can be a risk free procedure for both the mother and baby, during pregnancy and post pregnancy during the breastfeeding stage. If a woman is really concerned about her teeth, there is always an option to use teeth whitening toothpaste and mouthwash, which, while not as effective, can still provide a watered down solution.

For further information on teeth whitening during pregnancy we strongly advise that you speak directly with your certified oral hygiene professional, and always take the appropriate precautions.

*The information provided in this article is not meant to be dental advice of any kind and was composed from research of information provided on the world wide web. Always consult your dentist for dental advice.

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