You are currently viewing When is it safe to whiten teeth while breastfeeding?

When is it safe to whiten teeth while breastfeeding?

Is it safe to whiten teeth while breastfeeding? When someone is lactating or breastfeeding, it’s easy to think about every activity and how it affects breast milk.  Many people postpone certain procedures or plans until they’ve stopped breastfeeding. But, is tooth whitening also one of those unnecessary risks?

Generally speaking, most tooth whitening treatments are considered low or no risk with breastfeeding. 

Below is more detail about specific teeth whitening products and treatments and how they may affect breast milk. 

Types of teeth whitening treatments.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), whitening treatments can be separated into three groups. 

  • Whitening procedures that are done in the dentist’s office
  • Procedures done at home with products supplied by the dentist
  • Whiteners that people buy on their own without a prescription from the dentist. They are also referred to as over the counter products. This may include a new toothpaste, some whitening strips, or a teeth whitening pen, for examples.

Let’s break it down even more. I’ll list the ingredients or supplies used and what research we have about its impact on breast milk. Please note that this is not about which procedures or ingredients are effective at brightening your pearly whites or which provide the best results. This just goes over whether they may affect breast milk.

This is also not about which teeth whitening procedures can be used during pregnancy. Even though pregnancy and lactation often get lumped together, they are different situations. What is safe for the baby of a lactating parent may not be safe for a pregnant person or their unborn child. So, this focuses on breast milk only. 

A point worth remembering about breast milk:

For something to get into breast milk, it must first enter the blood stream. If a medication doesn’t get absorbed into the blood stream, it won’t end up in breast milk. There is a difference between having toothpaste on the teeth then spit out (minimal amount absorbed through the mouth tissue and then into the blood) and swallowing the toothpaste (larger amount absorbed through the gastrointestinal system and then into the blood). 

Many teeth whitening procedures use carbamide peroxide. 

Carbamide peroxide is one of the more common bleaching agents. First, please note that carbamide peroxide and breast milk has not been studied specifically. 

That being said, based on what we do know about it, using it in tooth paste or as part of a tooth whitening system is not a reason to discontinue breastfeeding. It’s not likely that much would be absorbed into the bloodstream this way. So, current evidence shows carbamide peroxide as part of tooth whitening is okay. There would be no need to pump and dump with carbamide peroxide used in tooth whitening.

Some teeth whitening systems use hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). 

There is also not much research on hydrogen peroxide getting passed into breast milk. But, if it’s used as part of a tooth-whitening procedure (and therefore not swallowed), it’s also considered low risk to the breast milk. It’s also worth mentioning that breast milk itself has some hydrogen peroxide in it naturally!

Zoom teeth whitening adds an LED light to the topical treatments. 

Zoom teeth whitening claims to use a blue LED light as part of the treatment. There isn’t much (any?) research on LED light and breast milk specifically. Anecdotally, most lactating people do not try to avoid light exposure out of concern for an effect on breast milk. 

For some perspective, getting an x-ray or mammogram does not harm breast milk.

Blue covarine pigment in whitening toothpaste

This also has not been studied in relationship to breastmilk. However, this article states that the blue covarine pigment stays on the surface of the teeth, making it unlikely to be absorbed into the body/bloodstream and therefore the breastmilk. 

Abrasive whitening toothpastes

Other whitening toothpastes work to physically remove discoloration from teeth with various abrasive ingredients like hydrated silica and calcium carbonate. These abrasive agents are supposed to help with tooth stains.

These have not been studied directly in relation to lactation. It’s worth remembering the general information about a substance needing to get into the blood stream in order to get into breast milk.


For some teeth whitening treatments, fluoride is used on the teeth to reduce tooth sensitivity. We do know that if a mother takes fluoride supplements, the fluoride levels in her breast milk do increase.

If fluoride is a concern, the mother could take care not to swallow the fluoride gels during these treatments. It’s also worth remembering that as soon as babies have teeth, it’s recommended that they use fluoridated toothpaste themselves. (See this post for details and how we take into account that they’ll probably swallow a small amount of some of that toothpaste).

“Natural” teeth whiteners

Other products people use to whiten their teeth, including coconut oil, sage and activated charcoal, have also not been studied specifically with lactation or breastfeeding. In these situations, lactating mothers can remember that ingredients need to be absorbed into the blood stream before they can get into milk.

This is worth thinking about.

If something is placed on the teeth for a few minutes and then spit out, how much could be absorbed into the blood? And then later into the milk? As this situation has not been measured, we can’t say. There’s just too little research. However, common sense suggests it’s not a large amount for these specific ingredients. And, coconut oil is regularly included in many meals that are perfectly safe for lactating people.

Please note that many dental professionals may not recommend activated charcoal for teeth whitening.

Summary: There’s probably a low risk that most known teeth whitening procedures affect breast milk or milk production.

This is not medical advice. It’s best to discuss with your own dentist or physician who knows you and your child as individuals. Generally speaking, working with dental professionals to optimize dental health and good oral hygiene is always a good idea. And, they can provide the best advice for achieving a brighter smile while still safely feeding your baby.

Maya M. Mahmood, D.O., FAAP is a board-certified pediatrician and mom. She is passionate about parents having evidence-based information to help their families be healthier.


This is for information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Leave a Reply