Many women like to look their best while pregnant. Thus, they may be interested in teeth whitening. The color of the teeth plays a large role in a person’s overall appearance.
Teeth that are discolored tend to look less attractive. However, over-the-counter and professional teeth-whitening products are often effective at removing dental stains.
If you are currently expecting, you may be wondering whether or not you can safely whiten your teeth during pregnancy. Here is a bit of information to help answer your questions concerning teeth whitening while you are expecting.
How does teeth whitening work?
Teeth whitening, which is also known as dental bleaching, chemically removes dental stains. During an application, a dental bleaching product is applied to the teeth for a designated period to help remove stains that have become trapped within the tooth enamel over time.
Dental bleaching products are effective at removing discoloration that stems from deeply pigmented food and beverages, but they cannot remove permanent stains, such as those from a birth defect or dental trauma.
Do doctors suggest teeth whitening during pregnancy?
There is little research to substantiate the safety of whitening kits throughout pregnancy. Thus, many doctors suggest that pregnant women wait until after delivery and nursing before they start a bleaching treatment for their teeth. Most chemical teeth whiteners contain hydrogen peroxide, which chemically is simply water with an additional oxygen atom in its makeup. However, hydrogen peroxide can cause tissue damage if used in high concentrations.
Pregnancy Gingivitis and Teeth Whitening
Another reason to delay a whitening treatment until after the delivery of your child is pregnancy gingivitis. The condition, which causes gum inflammation, occurs because of the hormones of pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones increase the blood flow to the gums, making them more prone to bleed, swell and become tender. Consistent dental hygiene can help decrease gum inflammation, but the chemicals within a teeth-whitening kit may aggravate gum tissues that are already sensitive.
Natural Teeth Whiteners
Doctors and dentists may refrain from giving you the go-ahead to use a professional or over-the-counter teeth-bleaching product, but they may be apt to approve a natural teeth whitener.
Natural teeth whiteners often use regular foods that are deemed safe during pregnancy to whiten the teeth. Here are a few natural whiteners:
- Strawberries. Strawberries can be mashed into a paste and applied to your teeth with a finger. The berries contain malic acid, which helps dissolve dental stains so that they can be more easily brushed away. Still, the strawberries should only be left in place for around five minutes. Since the berries are acidic, if left on the teeth for long periods, they may damage your tooth enamel.
- Apple cider vinegar. Like strawberries, apple cider vinegar also contains malic acid. The vinegar can be applied to the teeth then rinsed away with water. After a thorough rinsing, you can brush, but it is best to wait a few minutes first. Acidic substances, such as vinegar, can temporarily soften the tooth enamel. Brushing too soon after using the vinegar can cause enamel erosion.
- Baking soda. Baking soda is mildly abrasive and can help polish away dental stains. To use baking soda as a natural whitener, apply a loose paste made from baking soda and water to your toothbrush and brush in your usual manner. The salty taste may be unpalatable during pregnancy, but the baking soda should help remove surface discoloration.
- Turmeric. Turmeric, which is the spice that gives curry and mustard their yellow hue can be used to whiten your teeth. To whiten with turmeric, add the spice to the moistened bristles of your toothbrush. Still, be careful as you brush. Although turmeric can whiten the teeth, the spice is quite staining to countertops, hands and clothing.
Regular Dental Visits to Whiten the Teeth
During a professional cleaning, which occurs during a routine dental visit, the dentist removes tartar accumulations from the teeth. Tartar, which is hardened plaque, has a yellow hue that can discolor your teeth.
Dental cleanings should continue throughout your pregnancy. In fact, they may be more important than ever during this time, since they can help prevent periodontal disease, which is associated with preterm deliveries and low birth weight babies.
To discuss teeth whitening during pregnancy with a dental professional, contact our office to schedule an appointment.