Are Teeth Whitening Strips During Pregnancy Safe?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Teeth whitening strips can potentially be safe to use during pregnancy BUT guidelines state that you should wait until after delivery. The vast majority of healthcare professionals abide by the official guidelines and we at afterva are no exception. Thus, you most likely will not find someone who will outright recommend whitening your teeth with the strips while you’re pregnant.

Crest 3D White strips

The purpose today is to explain why not only whitening strips but also teeth whitening in general are not recommended. However, we’ll also present some research to show you the facts about bleaching your teeth during pregnancy.

What the guidelines say about using teeth whitening strips while pregnant

Teeth whitening strips are one of the many over the counter products used to whiten your teeth. They are all considered a cosmetic procedure and thus are categorized as an elective type of treatment.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guideline for non-obstetric surgery during pregnancy explicitly states that all elective treatments should be postponed until after delivery. Since teeth whitening strips are not a necessity and merely cosmetic, that rule would indeed apply to it.

Therefore, if you wish to abide by the ACOG’s recommendations you should delay using teeth whitening strips until after giving birth.

In case you were hoping that the American Dental Association (ADA) had a different opinion, they do not. The ADA directly references the ACOG’s guidelines in regard to elective treatment. They too state that you should wait until after the baby arrives before considering whitening your teeth once more.

These guidelines apply to ALL teeth whitening strip products. We’ve listed some as examples below but essentially if it comes in a strip form, the recommendations would still apply. In fact, it applies to teeth whitening in general.

  • Crest 3D white strips
  • Snow teeth whitening strips
  • Equate strips
  • Ultimate White
  • Rembrandt deeply white
  • Purelywhite deluxe
  • All drug store branded ones

What the research say about its safety during pregnancy

According to Crest, the makers of the 3D white strips there is no evidence of whitening strips being harmful during pregnancy. They’re actually correct about that because there haven’t been any actual studies done on pregnant women using whitening strips.

The reason why there haven’t been any studies is because it is an elective procedure so there is no harm in delaying usage of it until post-partum. Then there is also the fact that it is somewhat unethical to be experimenting on pregnant women in order to find out if whitening strips are safe or harmful. Who would actually volunteer the health of their unborn child to such experiments? None we presume.

The only clues that we can gather are from extrapolations in regards to the safety of hydrogen peroxide use in pregnancy. Hydrogen peroxide (HP) is the primary ingredient in the strips that are used to whiten teeth. How the HP will react with pregnant women should theoretically be similar to the effects that the strips would have on them as well.

Studies on the safety of hydrogen peroxide and pregnancy

According to PubChem, hydrogen peroxide which is present in the strips is categorized as a pregnancy risk category “C” drug. In layman’s terms it means that animal studies have demonstrated risk but there have been no human studies. That is consistent with the statement by Crest. Basically no one wants to experiment on expecting mothers to find out the answer.

Pregnancy Risk Categories Chart

The C category for pregnancy risk drugs also states that these products should only be used if the risks outweigh the benefits. Therefore you should ask yourself if having whiter teeth is worth the unknown risk that it may have on your fetus. If you do not believe that it is worth the risk then you shouldn’t do it. We believe that any reasonable expecting mother would most likely answer no since it is a cosmetic procedure that does not improve the well-being of your child. Only your vanity would be improved by the treatment.

Nonetheless, you may be surprised but the Public Health of England released an informational sheet on hydrogen peroxide which actually states that low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide will not harm the unborn child. Apparently most of the topical applications of the product gets rapidly detoxified before it even reaches the blood. Only small trace amounts even enter the body system.

Since teeth whitening strips are an over the counter product, their concentration of hydrogen peroxide is of course significantly less than the in-office products. The in-office versions from your dentist are of a significantly higher concentration. Due to this, the strips may potentially be safe to use since its similar say hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse. However, since there haven’t been any actual studies done, no one can say for sure whether or not it will have a detrimental effect on your unborn child.

Should you use teeth whitening strips while you’re pregnant?

We would have to agree with the ACOG and the ADA in regards to postponing the use of teeth whitening strips while you’re pregnant. You should wait until after giving birth to whiten your teeth because it is a lot less risky. After all it is an elective cosmetic procedure that does not offer any benefits to your unborn child. The only thing it can potentially do is possibly harm him/her. Thus, we believe that the better choice is to simply wait until after you give birth.

Nonetheless if yellow teeth really bothered you, you could always keep on using the whitening toothpaste. With the exception of the Colgate Optic White, the vast majority of these toothpastes don’t actually contain any hydrogen peroxide. In other words, it is perfectly safe to be using them even during pregnancy.

Another helpful tip in preventing your teeth from becoming yellow is to avoid staining foods. Tea, coffee, and red wine are notorious for staining your teeth. You should try to avoid all of those during pregnancy so you can at least delay your teeth from yellowing. It’ll also mean that you’ll have to whiten your teeth less aggressively after you give birth to get them back to their pearly white color!

Yes, we are explicitly stating that it is safe to whiten your teeth while you’re breastfeeding! Hopefully we’ve answered your question about whether or not you can use teeth whitening strips during pregnancy.


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