Even if we know it to be true, the ways in which every aspect of a mother’s life will change during pregnancy are still sometimes unbelievable. We’re talking about more than gaining weight and strange dietary cravings.
Not everyone tells you about the changes to your teeth and gums. You want to maintain oral hygiene to avoid ninth month problems like gingivitis and pregnancy granuloma. So, you do end up thinking about things like whitening your teeth.
And even after the baby is born, breastfeeding mothers often find themselves wondering and worrying about chemicals in teeth whitening kits. So, we thought we would put your mind at ease by gathering some information on the subject.
How Do Teeth Whitening Treatments Work?
Teeth whitening is a simple process that is commonly done with two types of products—bleaching and non-bleaching. While bleaching and whitening are used interchangeably, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, bleaching should be used if the product you are using actually contains the element bleach. If the product just removes food or other debris from the teeth without bleach, it is a whitening product.
Products with bleach contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. They remove dental stains from the surface of the teeth and the deeper ones that can cause teeth to lose their natural colour. Hydrogen peroxide is the bleaching element, and carbamide peroxide is used to break it down.
You can buy these products from a dentist, and they are stronger than regular whiteners. The products that dentists use contain 35 to 45 per cent peroxide while whitening strips that you can buy over the counter have about 7 per cent peroxide. Other ingredients are glycerine, sodium hydroxide, and flavours if you choose to go that way.
Can the Substances in Whitening Treatments Be Passed through Breast Milk?
When we talk about teeth whitening while breastfeeding, we must take the substances in these products into account. The chemicals used in these products are usually not passed on to the mother’s breast milk.
In fact, if you get it done with a dentist, the ultraviolet lights in their office also don’t affect your breast milk or its production.
If you choose to do this at home, the chemicals that the mother might swallow are also at a negligible level. They will not be absorbed into the bloodstream and hence do not affect breast milk. But, as a precaution, dentists suggest not to get any dental work done till after the baby is born. And since teeth whitening isn’t an emergency, we’re sure you agree that it can wait.
Is It Safe to Whiten Your Teeth While Breastfeeding?
The American Dentists Association says that clinicians may want to defer teeth whitening procedures during pregnancy. This is the standard protocol followed by most dental professionals.
But a lot of dentists do feel that there is no harm in pregnant women whitening their teeth. If you are using a whitening toothpaste though, you must remember not to overdo it to keep the peroxide limits under control. That brings us to the question of teeth whitening while breastfeeding.
There aren’t enough studies to conclude or even determine the levels of safety of the process while breastfeeding. Some professionals are of the opinion that mothers should wait till they are no longer breastfeeding to get their teeth whitened. But a lot of them also say that it is just fine. That is because even if the peroxide is present at an undetectable level in the milk, it will not reach the baby thanks to the natural filtering mechanisms.
Despite those divided opinions, the general consensus about teeth whitening during pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility treatments is that mothers should wait. But there isn’t any conclusive proof that teeth whitening can be dangerous to the mother or the baby.
The precautions are only to be safe, and due to the inconclusive nature of the research. What we don’t know might, after all, cause harm.
Since the mother has been on hold since her pregnancy, she might want to look for natural remedies. But if she is keen on whitening her teeth, she should talk to her physician.