Whitening toothpastes are the go-to method for teeth whitening. They are easily accessible, simple to use, and relatively inexpensive compared to other options like whitestrips or gel procedures. As a result, the market is saturated with products, but how do you decide which is best for you?
We’ve hand-picked and reviewed a selection of the best whitening toothpastes on the market to help you brighten your smile.
But before we get to the products, there are three absolutely fundamental questions you must consider first. Do this and you can be sure to find the best whitening toothpaste that really works – for you.
1. Do whitening toothpastes really work?
Whitening toothpastes do work, but it’s important to understand what they’re designed to do and have realistic expectations!
✔ Can remove and prevent external stains (from products such as tobacco or coffee).
✔ Make your teeth as white as they once were by strengthening tooth enamel
✔ Help to maintain your smile after in-office whitening or the use of DIY whitening kits.
X Cannot lighten your teeth beyond their natural shade (which is known as intrinsic whitening).
Intrinsic whitening can only be achieved by systems that hold peroxide against the teeth for a prolonged period.
2. How do whitening toothpastes work?
Our selected brands base their products on one or more of the methods below. Understanding them will help you match the right product to your needs. If you love red wine, you will be focussing on stain removal. If your teeth have become discoloured through thinning enamel, you will be on the hunt for an enamel strengthening version.
3. Will whitening toothpaste damage my teeth?
Despite being widely available, concerns regarding whitening toothpastes are legitimate. This is because the very abrasivity that removes stains can also erode tooth enamel causing teeth to look yellow.
The best whitening toothpaste will maximise stain removal capabilities whilst minimising potential enamel damage. Of course, all brands claim they have achieved this balance. But have they? We have worked hard to bring you a selection that do hit the sweet spot between efficiency and care.
And for good measure, our selection includes whitening toothpastes that address other oral health needs like sensitivity, bleeding gums or the need to source ethical natural products.
But if you are unsure, you should always check with your dentist or dental hygienist for their recommendation first.
We have included the abrasivity score (where available) for each product. As a reference:
- 0-70 Low abrasivity
- 71-100 Medium abrasivity
- 101-150 High abrasivity
- 151-250 Regarded as harmful limit
So which is the best toothpaste to whiten teeth?
|Opalescence Cool Mint||Best overall|
|Rembrandt Intense Stain Removal||Best for tough stains|
|Hello Activated Charcoal||Best natural product|
|Parodontax Whitening Toothpaste||Best for sore or bleeding gums|
|Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque and Whitening||Best antiplaque and anti tartar product|
|Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening||Best for Sensitive Teeth|
|Crest 3D White Brilliance||Best for fresh breath|
|NuSkin AP24 Toothpaste||Best flavor|
|Active Wow Charcoal Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder||Best whitening powder|
Opalescence Cool Mint
Cost: about $17 for a pack of two (check price)
- Lightens two shades in a month when used as directed
- Medium abrasivity (90)
- Formulated to release fluoride quickly & efficiently to strengthen tooth enamel
- Uses an optical chemical to create the illusion of a much whiter smile
Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste uses several of the weapons in the toothpaste arsenal to brighten your smile.
Silica is used as an abrasive to polish teeth and remove stains.
To protect tooth enamel and restore natural whiteness to your smile, three different things are going on when you brush with Opalescence.
- It’s formulated to ensure fluoride is more efficiently absorbed by tooth enamel;
- it contains xylitol to help remineralise enamel;
- sodium hydroxide helps to neutralise the acids that attack tooth enamel.
The final ingredient working to whiten your smile is sparkle C1 77019, a shimmering pigment that reflects and bends light to create a temporary illusion of much whiter teeth.
Unlike some whitening toothpastes, Opalescence can be used long term as it its abrasivity is relatively low and it does not have a gritty texture. Fans love its unusual wintergreen fresh taste which is less sweet than other brands.
With everything Opalescence does to protect tooth enamel we think it works hard to strike the balance between polishing yet protecting teeth. That’s why we have rated it our best overall whitening toothpaste.
Rembrandt Intense Stain Removal
Cost: $20 for a pack of three (check price)
- Developed by a cosmetic dentist
- Medium abrasivity (85) due to the use of micro polishers
- Prevents future staining
- Replenishes tooth enamel
The main aim of this toothpaste is to lift stains resulting from products like red wine, berries, coffee and tobacco but also to prevent them building up again in the future.
Rembrandt achieves this by deploying micro-silica polishers to buff away stubborn stains. Micro polishers are effective at stain removal but their size and shape mean they are enamel safe. At the same time, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate helps prevent future stains gaining hold by inhibiting plaque and tartar build up.
Fluoride replenishes tooth enamel to keep teeth white and a bright white pigment called titanium dioxide is used to create a temporary illusion of much whiter teeth.
What we like about this toothpaste is that it makes use of sodium lauroyl sarcosinate rather than sodium lauryl sulfate. Both are cleaning and foaming ingredients but lauroyl sarcosinate is thought to be less potentially irritating. That makes this toothpaste gentler on sensitive gums – something its users comment on alongside its pleasant minty taste and smooth texture.
So if you want to carry on enjoying red wine, coffee, tea or any other product known to cause staining, Rembrandt will work hard on your behalf to whiten your smile and keep it white.
Hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste
Cost: around $5 (check price)
- Uses activated charcoal to clean, polish and whiten teeth
- Replenishes tooth enamel and is not too abrasive.
- All natural vegan product (no parabens, artificial dyes or flavors)
- Gluten, fluoride, triclosan, microbead, sodium lauryl sulphate and cruelty free
Hello Activated Charcoal toothpaste whitens teeth using porous charcoal particles which absorb staining substances. The particles also polish teeth to remove plaque but the paste is not gritty and has a smooth texture and refreshing taste.
Combined with coconut oil, erythritol and xylitol, the charcoal helps to eliminate harmful bacteria in the mouth, thereby protecting teeth and gums and keeping breath fresh.
Hello Activated Charcoal Toothpaste does not contain fluoride, Xylitol is used instead to help remineralise tooth enamel. As Hello charcoal toothpaste is far less abrasive than charcoal powder (and well within the ISO standard for enamel safety) we think Hello have hit that sweet spot between cleaning and caring.
And that’s why it’s our number one best whitening toothpaste for people who want to use an environmentally friendly and completely natural product.
But if you’re not used to black paste it can take some getting used to and may stain your sink if not rinsed thoroughly!
->Read: Hello brand review
Parodontax Whitening Toothpaste for Bleeding Gums
Cost: $16.50 for a three pack (check price)
- Gently whitens teeth using hydrated silica
- Contains fluoride to protect tooth enamel and provides protection from cavities
- Helps prevent bleeding gums and clinically proven to reverse the effects of gingivitis
- 40% more effective at reducing bleeding gums (compared to a sodium monofluorophosphate toothpaste)
Many of us suffer from bleeding gums occasionally. This toothpaste enables you to continue with your whitening regime whilst improving gum health and preventing bleeding gums.
Parodontax uses hydrated silica to buff stains away and Pentasodium Triphosphate (PT) to dissolve surface stains. PT also helps to keep teeth looking cleaner as it prevents food particles from sticking to teeth surfaces. Titanium Dioxide boosts this affect as it is a bright white pigment that reflects light and makes teeth seem temporarily whiter.
To replenish tooth enamel and keep your smile white, stannous fluoride is deployed. This ingredient has several other functions too. It lays down a mineral barrier over exposed dentin (inner part of the tooth) to prevent sensitivity and is the key antibacterial ingredient in Parodontax that fights plaque and gingivitis.
This is a great daily toothpaste that supports gum health, while gently whitening and protecting your teeth. It has a thick non-gritty texture and a fresh minty flavour.
But remember, bleeding gums can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem, if the bleeding persists, you must consult your dentist for professional advice.
Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque and Whitening Toothpaste Fluoride Free
Cost: around $9 for a two pack (check price)
- Naturally sourced silicas buff away stains & sodium bicarbonate dissolves them
- Medium abrasivity 80/90
- Fluoride, gluten and cruelty free.
- Contains no artificial dyes, sweeteners or flavors
As well as buffing away stains with silica, Tom’s of Maine makes use of nature’s cure-all; sodium bicarbonate. This magical ingredient dissolves stains, freshens breath and neutralises enamel damaging acids. On top of that, it removes plaque.
Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. Over time it hardens and becomes tartar – which is unsightly, yellow, tough to remove and a real smile spoiler.
Controlling the bacteria load in your mouth is key to keeping plaque at bay. Though it’s fluoride free, Tom’s contains xylitol which promotes the natural remineralisation of teeth by saliva. Xylitol is a natural sweetener, but unlike sugar it can’t be processed by bacteria to produce acids. This helps to reduce the bacteria load in your mouth, which in turn stops the development of plaque.
So Tom’s of Maine works hard to whiten and protect your smile by maintaining the natural pH balance of a healthy mouth, controlling the bacteria load and inhibiting plaque build up.
So why isn’t it top of our list? Well, taste. Any product containing sodium bicarbonate is going to taste different to regular toothpaste. Once you’ve acquired the taste, no problem, but it can take some getting used to!
On top of that, Tom’s of Maine boast about being a company that sources ethical, sustainable and thoughtful ingredients. So it’s a bit of a surprise to find that this toothpaste contains Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (which can be an irritant and its production damages the environment).
Nevertheless, this is a popular product with over 70% of reviews on Amazon giving it the full five stars. If you’re looking for a fluoride free whitening product and are a big fan of baking soda, this could be your top pick.
Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening
Cost: $14 for a pack of 3 (check price)
- #1 dentist recommended product for strengthening & protecting tooth enamel
- Extremely low abrasivity (34)
- Helps to restore natural whiteness with low abrasivity
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate free
Sensodyne Pronamel gentle whitening helps to restore whiteness by replenishing and strengthening tooth enamel (which is naturally white). It also contains a bright white pigment (titanium dioxide) which temporarily makes teeth appear whiter. Hydrated silica is used to polish teeth and remove stains.
Tooth enamel can become eroded by the acids produced by harmful bacteria or contained in food and drink. As enamel weakens, sensitive yellow dentin underneath can show through causing discolouration and sensitivity.
Sensodyne Pronamel is engineered to make sure that the fluoride it contains (and the minerals naturally found in saliva) are more efficiently taken up by tooth enamel, strengthening it and preventing dentin from showing through.
This toothpaste is our number one choice for anyone with sensitivity whose smile has become discoloured as a result of weakened enamel. It deals with the root cause of the problem to restore natural whiteness. It will not give dramatic results but with regular use may help you move on to a product that does.
Remember though, sensitivity can be a sign of a more serious problem and you should always seek advice from your dentist if you are concerned.
-> Read: Sensodyne Toothpaste Review
Crest 3D White Brilliance Plus
Cost: $6 (check price)
- Crest’s most advanced teeth whitening and breath freshening formula
- Micro-cleansing whiteners buff away surface stains.
- Unlocks stains in hard-to-reach places.
- Contains fluoride and is enamel safe.
Crest uses dual micro polishers to buff away up to 90% of surface stains. Their size and shape ensure they are effective but enamel safe. On top of this, the combination of sodium hexametaphosphate and fluoride prevents tooth enamel from losing minerals during brushing.
This brand new product also makes use of a patented formula called Illuminating Complex. This breaks down stains with a gentle foaming action that targets those hard to reach places between teeth.
Mica and titanium dioxide are used to add sparkle and shine – though the effects are temporary, they are effective.
The taste is strong and refreshing and engineered to provide a lasting, cooling sensation.
So why isn’t the product higher up our table? Well, it’s new and is yet to receive a significant number of reviews. However, the early signs are promising, especially in terms of lasting freshness. That’s why it’s our number one whitening product for that long-lasting just brushed feeling.
Active Wow Teeth Whitening Natural Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder
Cost: about $20 for a 2/3 month supply (Check price)
- Whitens using coconut charcoal (not hardwood) so better for the environment.
- Naturally derived, non GMO, cruelty free ingredients
- Several flavours available
- Fluoride free
Active Wow whitens teeth through the use of activated charcoal which is porous and draws out staining substances from tooth surfaces. The particles also polish teeth to remove plaque.
Mineral rich bentonite clay is also used as an abrasive and to help replenish and strengthen tooth enamel and restore natural whiteness.
Orange seed oil is added as a natural whitener and it also has antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties to protect gums and reduce the bacteria load in your mouth.
Active Wow is thoughtfully formulated to strike a balance between whitening and caring. It has an incredible number of reviews on Amazon which are overwhelmingly positive. But there are a few things to consider before using this product:
- The makers of Active Wow recommend that you brush your teeth with regular toothpaste after use – so this is not a toothpaste replacement.
- It can take time to adapt to using powder, and there’ll probably be some spillage at first.
- If you’re sharing the product with someone else you should transfer the powder to a clean teaspoon and apply that to your toothbrush to avoid transferring germs.
- Though charcoal whitens teeth, it does not have the same effect on your toothbrush or sink!
-> Read Active Wow Charcoal Review
NuSkin AP24 Whitening Toothpaste
Cost: $20 for a two pack (check price)
- Buffs away stains
- Removes plaque and prevents plaque buildup
- Contains fluoride
- Unique Vanilla mint flavour
AP24 uses two mild abrasives (aluminium hydroxide and hydrated silica) to gently buff away stains on the tooth surface.
Fluoride is used to help remineralise tooth enamel and restore and maintain the natural whiteness of your teeth.
Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate works to remove plaque and prevent it building up in the future.
Lastly, titanium dioxide, a bright white pigment, helps teeth to look whiter for a short period after brushing.
As with all the products in our selection, AP24 is engineered to find that happy medium between cleaning and yet caring for your teeth. It is a good all round product with a unique taste and many favourable reviews on Amazon.
The one drawback in our view is that it contains sodium lauryl sulphate which can cause irritation and canker sores in some users. That said, it still made it onto the short list and is worth considering.
If you are realistic in terms of your expectations, you should easily find a whitening toothpaste that really works for you amongst our top picks.
But remember, whitening toothpastes can only make your teeth as white as they once were. They can’t lighten your teeth beyond their natural shade – at least not permanently. Pigments can create a brighter, whiter smile, but these effects are temporary.
At the end of the day, the best whitening toothpaste is the one you like well enough to use every day. And that’s why our selection targets a range of other oral health needs so that you can identify which whitening toothpaste really works – for you!
Here at TheToothsayer.com we specialise in reviewing dental products and writing dental guides to help you get the best out of your smile.
TheToothsayer was founded in 2015 with a simple mission: to help you answer your dental questions. We’ve come a long way since then, with over 200 articles published across our US and UK sites.
Our founders, contributors, editors and publishers are well versed in the product categories we cover, as well as having first hand experience with a lot of the topics; from inflamed gums to orthodontics to teeth whitening.
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