Find out if it’s safe to brighten your pearly whites while expecting a child.

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In the uncomfortable throes of pregnancy, you may itch for a little self-care – and teeth whitening is an easy way to improve your appearance. But is teeth whitening while pregnant safe for you and the baby? The answer is unclear, says New York-based cosmetic and reconstructive dentist Elisa Mello, D.D.S.

That’s because both professional whitening and any over-the-counter products contain questionable chemicals —typically hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, which can be absorbed or ingested during the whitening process. “The chemicals created during the procedures are caustic to cells, and we can’t know for certain what damage they may do to a developing baby,” Dr. Mello explains.

Since there have been no studies done on the effects of peroxide on babies in utero, and the process is purely cosmetic, it's best to hold off until after you're done with pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How to Remove Tooth Stains While Pregnant

Looking for a safe way to remove tooth stains while pregnant? Make a paste of equal parts strawberries and baking soda and brush onto teeth. Let it sit for five minutes before rinsing. (Strawberries contain malic acid, a natural substance that breaks down stains.)

Alternately, you find a dentist who whitens with a halogen light, which is safer than traditional bleaching trays. Of course, you should always get approval from your Ob-Gyn before receiving any dental work other than a cleaning.

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