Is Teeth Whitening While Breastfeeding Safe?

Hand written by Dr David Chen, an actively practicing dentist and avid writer. #doctorswrite

We all know that you should minimize the amount of elective procedures while you’re pregnant because you don’t want to risk exposing your child to unnecessary side effects. Teeth whitening happens to be one of the most common elective procedures which expecting mothers ask about. However, what about after you give birth is teeth whitening while you’re breastfeeding safe to do or is it still a big no?

Opalesence Go

Our purpose here today is to explore every possible angle on this subject of whitening your teeth while you’re nursing. We’ll take into account what the ADA and ACOG have to say. Then we’ll present some relevant research studies as well as what the product labels on the whitening products say. Finally we’ll give you a verdict on whether or not it is say to partake in this elective procedure and what you should do.

Guidance from the ADA

The American Dental Association (ADA) does not specifically mention teeth whitening while you’re breastfeeding. On their mouthhealthy website, their recommendation was to hold off on cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening until after the baby arrives.

Even though they don’t specifically reference it, based upon what they said it should be safe to whiten your teeth while you’re breastfeeding. After all, when you are nursing it IS after the baby has arrived.

Therefore, this is the green light or go ahead from the ADA themselves to get that cosmetic procedure done. You’ve been putting it off for the past nine months and now is the time.

Guidance from the ACOG

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not have any specific guidelines in regards to whitening your teeth while you’re pregnant and also while you’re breastfeeding. Therefore it is an unknown whether they condone it or not.

However, you may be surprised to learn what they have recommended and included in their oral health care guidelines during pregnancy.

  • They say to reassure patients that x-rays and local anesthesia ARE safe during pregnancy.
  • They also recommend to NOT delay treatment for any conditions which may require immediate attention. This includes extractions, root canals, and tooth restorations.

Basically they say that putting off needed procedures only results in more complex problems down the road.

However, since they make no reference to bleaching your teeth whiter, we’ll have to record them as no comment for whether you should whiten while breastfeeding.

American pregnancy association

The ACOG may not have said anything but the american pregnancy association does specifically say to postpone all elective dental treatment until after delivery. Since the whitening falls under cosmetic and consequently elective, we’ll infer that it means you’re probably clear to do it since you have delivered the baby.

What do the product labels say?

For the over the counter products such as the Crest 3D white strips and the Opalesence Go, both of the product labels don’t mention anything about using it while breastfeeding nor pregnant.

Crest 3D White strips

We dug a little deeper and did find that KoR Whitening says that all nursing mothers should consult with their pediatricians prior to using whitening gels. They also said that pregnant women should NOT use their product at all.

Based upon that we would say that it is probably a hard NO for teeth whitening while pregnant. Although if you’re nursing it may be okay but you should consult with your child’s pediatrician if you’re still breastfeeding and you’re interested in whitening.

Research studies

All of the teeth whitening products are made with varying concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Typically the over the counter products are of a lower concentration while the in-office are higher. If your product doesn’t have it, it is still an ingredient which is a derivative of hydrogen peroxide.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many actual studies on pregnant women and women who are nursing since that is a safety hazard and no one wants to volunteer for such studies. However, we can extrapolate and draw inferences from other studies about hydrogen peroxide itself.

According to PubChem, hydrogen peroxide is a category risk C drug. That means the risk cannot be ruled out because no actual studies have been done on pregnant women. However, it may be used if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Pregnancy Risk Categories Chart

If you were looking for some good news, there was a study by the NIH, which was exploring various whitening products on pregnant women. The hydrogen peroxide was tested on skin bleaching only and not teeth bleaching but their conclusion was that it was safe. Basically in LOW concentrations, the hydrogen peroxide gets rapidly detoxified and metabolized once it reaches the blood. Only trace amounts remain in the blood.

We just want to emphasize that the study said LOW concentrations of hydrogen peroxide because we found a LabChem SDS with hydrogen peroxide in the 30% concentration, which agreed. It explicitly said to avoid contact while pregnant and nursing.

Related content: Since we’re talking about hydrogen peroxide, some people like to use it as a mouth rinse. Read our article about whether pregnant women can gargle with hydrogen peroxide safely.

Should you or should you not whiten your teeth while breastfeeding?

Taking into account all of the guidelines and research studies, it is most likely safe to whiten your teeth while breastfeeding. None of the organizations nor whitening companies said that you can’t do it. Only KoR whitening said that you should consult with your pediatrician but it didn’t say that you couldn’t do it.

Also based on research studies on hydrogen peroxide, it seems to be relatively safe in low concentrations because it gets detoxified and metabolized very quickly once it reaches your blood stream. However, higher concentration products you may want to be wary about but the good news is that you usually can’t purchase those OTC.

All of the over the counter products are typically lower in concentration so they’re probably the safest route to whiten your teeth if you’re nursing. The in-office products generally do come in a much higher concentrations.

Basically you’re probably safe to whiten your teeth while you’re breastfeeding if you’re going with any of the OTC products such as whitening toothpaste. Although you should probably still ask your pediatrician about the in-office whitening just in case.

However if you’re still pregnant you shouldn’t whiten your teeth. You must wait until after delivering the baby!


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