These 12 Toothpastes Target Stains, Sensitivity, and More

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Brushing your teeth may not be a daily activity that you pay a ton of attention to, but it’s much more important than you might realize. According to the American Dental Association, oral health is linked to our overall health—in other words, poor dental hygiene can end up affecting more than just your teeth.

The point is, brushing (and flossing) your teeth at least twice daily is non-negotiable. But what kind of toothpaste should you use to do so? “Ultimately, the best toothpaste for you is one that is your personal favorite and is going to help encourage you to brush your teeth the recommended two to three times a day,” says cosmetic dentist Dr. Victoria Veytsman, DDS, founder of Cosmetic Dental Studios. There are different types such as fluoride toothpaste, sensitivity toothpaste, and whitening toothpaste, so consider both what your teeth are like and the goals you want to achieve; when in doubt, any toothpaste with the ADA seal is a good choice, she adds.

Read on to check out our list of some of the best toothpaste out there.

Our Top Picks
This minty option covers a range of issues, including cavities, gingivitis, plaque, sensitivity, stains, and bad breath.
This affordable pick uses a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to whiten and brighten teeth.
This pick neutralizes plaque bacteria in hard to reach places, especially along the gum line, to fight and prevent gingivitis.
This toothpaste brightens teeth and decreases sensitivity and tooth pain.
This pick is a good whitening option for those with sensitive teeth thanks to the potassium nitrate in the formula.
This whitening toothpaste is made with hydrogen peroxide and has serious stain fighting power.
These tablets come in various flavors, have completely recyclable packaging, and are more travel-friendly than those testy tubes.
This multi-tasker helps to reduce the likelihood of getting cavities and strengthens teeth overall.
The formula uses natural ingredients to clean and protect teeth.
This pair offers a different cleaning experience to start your morning and end your day.

Best Overall: Crest Pro Health Advanced Deep Clean Toothpaste

Crest Pro Health Advanced Deep Clean Mint Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Multi-tasking formula

  • Has ADA seal

What We Don't Like
  • Fairly small tube

There’s not much this do-it-all formula can’t do; it covers pretty much any and every issue, from cavities to gingivitis to plaque to stains to bad breath. It also touts that oh-so-important American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, meaning it’s passed lab tests and been vetted for efficacy and to meet the high standards of the ADA. Plus, the minty flavor is yummy and it’s super affordable.

Active Ingredients: Flouride | Size: 3.5 ounces 

Best Budget: Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Baking Soda and Peroxide Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Very effective for whitening

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Hydrogen peroxide can trigger tooth sensitivity

“The active ingredients in this toothpaste are hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, which doubles the whitening effectiveness,” says Hang. “The peroxide removes stains as baking soda gently whitens and neutralizes acids that erode enamels,” she explains. Not to mention that the tube is larger than most and rings in at a very affordable price.

Active Ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, fluoride | Size: 6.3 ounces

Best for Gum Health: Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean Toothpaste

Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Great for gum health

  • Has ADA seal

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Gum disease is no joke; more and more research indicates that there is a direct link between it and heart disease. It’s something that should be diagnosed (and treated) by your dentist, but using a toothpaste formulated to keep your gums in good shape, like this one, is a good idea. It, too, has the ADA’s seal of approval; the activated foam helps break down plaque in tough to reach spots, like along your gum line. It’s also cooling, keeping your gums and mouth nice and fresh. 

Active Ingredients: Flouride | Size: 4.1 ounces

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Pronamel
What We Like
  • Can help reduce sensitivity over time

  • Whitens and strengthens teeth

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

“If you’re prone to tooth sensitivity when it comes to temperature and touch, Sensodyne is what I always recommend,” says Veystman. “This one helps to whiten and remove stains, too.” It’s also a top pick for New York City cosmetic dentist Dr. Fadwa Robb, DDS. “Tooth sensitivity, which can be quite uncomfortable, is caused by many things, including fractures, thinning enamel, and gum recession. The potassium nitrate in Sensodyne Pronamel will calm tooth nerve activity and reduce pain signals. Additionally, sodium fluoride assists in fortifying your enamel, which also leads to less sensitivity. With continued use, it can significantly reduce your tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet stimuli,” she explains.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, potassium nitrate | Size: 4.1 ounces

Best for Sensitive Teeth, Runner-Up: Hello Sensitivity Relief + Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

Hello Sensitivity Relief + Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Vegan, cruelty-free formula

  • Free of dyes and artificial sweeteners

What We Don't Like
  • Could be slightly mintier

New York City dentist Dr. Sharon Huang, DDS, says this is her top pick for those who have booth tooth sensitivity but also want a whitening formula. “It contains a 5% concentration of potassium nitrate to reduce sensitivity, the maximum strength you can get over-the-counter,” she explains. She also lauds it for touting cavity-fighting sodium fluoride.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, potassium nitrate | Size: 4.7 ounces

Best Whitening: Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Very effective for whitening

  • Enamel-safe formula

What We Don't Like
  • Hydrogen peroxide can trigger tooth sensitivity

This is Robb’s go-to for anyone seeking a brighter, whiter smile. Most whitening toothpaste works by gently buffing off stains with mildly abrasive ingredients; this formula contains those but also has a 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide, which has bleaching powers, she explains. “For those who want to maximize their in-office tooth whitening through toothpaste, this is a great choice for daily use,” she says.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, hydrogen peroxide | Size: 3 ounces

Best Tablets: Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits

Bite Toothpaste Bits - Fresh Mint
What We Like
  • Vegan, cruelty-free formula

  • Good for travel

  • Five flavors available

  • Sustainable

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Toothpaste tablets aren’t necessarily new, but they are becoming a more and more popular alternative. Not only are they super convenient (especially for travel), they also are a more sustainable option than traditional tubes. These fluoride-free ones rely on nano-hydroxyapatite instead, a mineral that helps strengthen and restore tooth enamel. All you have to do is bite down on one and brush with a wet toothbrush; it foams upon contact. We also like that these come in five flavors, including unique ones such as berry and coco mango.

Active Ingredients: Nano-hydroxyapatite | Size: 62 bits

Best for Cavity Protection: Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste with Fluoride

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Multi-tasking formula

  • Nice minty flavor

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

There’s a good reason why fluoride pops up in so many kinds of toothpaste. “It’s a cavity-fighter that will make your teeth resistant to cavities and stronger overall,” explains Veytsman. She’s a fan of this toothpaste, lauding it for its multi-tasking abilities. “It has a great flavor, is non-abrasive, and anti-cavity. There’s also a version for sensitive teeth, too,” she says.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Size: 4.7 ounces each 

Best Fluoride-Free: RinseWell Natural Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste

RinseWell Natural Hydroxyapatite Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Good natural formula 

  • Strengthens teeth

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say it can be hard to dispense

On the flips side, if you’d like to stick with a fluoride-free option, Huan recommends this one. “The active ingredient is hydroxyapatite, which strengthens and restores tooth enamel. It also uses xylitol to inhibit bad bacteria, gentle scrubbers like silica, and antibacterial tea tree oil,” she says. Plus, the flavor is all naturally derived from wild mint and peppermint oils.

Active Ingredients: Hydroxyapatite | Size: 4 ounces

Best Duo: Twice Classic Duo

Twice Classic Duo
What We Like
  • Different flavors make for a nice variety

  • Multi-tasking formula

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

You use different skincare products in the morning and at night, so why not change up your toothpaste, too? Sure, it may be a little extra to have two different kinds of toothpaste, but it’s also kind of fine. With this set, you get one option for the morning, their "Invigorating" minty flavor, and one for the evening, their "Calming" lavender and vanilla variant. Still, both formulas contain cavity-fighting fluoride, potassium nitrate, and vitamins.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, potassium nitrate | Size: 3.4 ounces each

Best Natural: Davids Premium Natural Toothpaste

Davids Premium Natural Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Good natural formula

  • Three flavors available

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers say texture is more liquid-y than preferred

  • Dispensing can take some getting used to

Those seeking a more natural toothpaste alternative should consider this pick, which is EWG verified. Fluoride- and sulfate-free, it relies on ingredients such as peppermint oil and baking soda and comes in a recyclable chic metal tube with a turnkey (also recyclable).

Active Ingredients: Calcium carbonate, baking soda | Size: 5.25 ounces

Best for Dry Mouth: Biotene Specially Formulated Fluoride Toothpaste

Biotene Specially Formulated Fluoride Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Good choice for those with dry mouth

  • Nice minty flavor

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

True story: A dry mouth and bad breath often go hand-in-hand. (Severe dry mouth, aka xerostomia, is a condition in which your salivary glands don’t produce enough spit to keep your mouth wet.) Enter this pick, specially formulated to help soothe and moisturize a dry mouth; happy reviewers rave about how well it works. It’s also free of potentially irritating alcohol and sodium lauryl sulfate.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Size: 4.3 ounces

Final Verdict

Not all toothpaste is created equal, and there is plenty to pick from. The Crest Pro-Health Advanced Deep Clean Toothpaste (view at Amazon) is our overall favorite, a do-it-all formula that’s earned the ADA’s seal of approval. If you’re after brighter, whiter teeth, try Colgate Optic White Renewal (view at Amazon), and if you have sensitivity, Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste (view at Amazon) is beloved by dentists. (It contains an ingredient to help reduce sensitivity over time.) And if you’re looking for a convenient on-the-go choice that’s also more sustainable, check out the Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits (view at Bite), which are also a great option for anyone who is seeking out a natural, fluoride-free toothpaste.

What to Look For in a Toothpaste 

Fluoride

According to Huang, this is a key active ingredient to look for. “It makes teeth enamel stronger and helps remineralize early-stage cavities,” she says.

Hydroxyapatite

Want to go fluoride-free? Huang says this is the best alternative to help remineralize teeth.

Potassium Nitrate

If you’re prone to tooth sensitivity, Huang suggests seeking out this ingredient in your toothpaste, as it helps reduce it.

Avoid Charcoal

Both Huang and Robb say to avoid this now-popular toothpaste ingredient, warning that it can be too abrasive and cause enamel wear with long-term use. They also note that there is little evidence of any benefits.

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of toothpaste?

    “Toothpaste is the cornerstone of your dental hygiene. Regular use of toothpaste fights the build-up of plaque and tartar to prevent tooth decay and gum disease,” says Dr. Robb.  “Toothpaste can also help keep your teeth white, reduce or prevent tooth sensitivity and freshen your breath.  Additionally, it’s an excellent mechanism for the delivery of fluoride.”

  • Does toothpaste expire?

    According to Dr. Roob, most toothpaste has a shelf life of approximately two years. That being said, "it doesn’t ‘go bad’ at that point, so there’s no danger in using recently expired toothpaste. It’s just that key ingredients, such as fluoride, may be less effective after that point," she notes.

  • Do whitening toothpastes work?

    “Yes, a whitening toothpaste is great at dealing with the day-to-day surface stains from teeth such as coffee, cigarettes, soda, and more, but it does take continued use,” says Vetystman. “They have special abrasives or peroxide that help break down stains and polish teeth.” That being said, they only work on the surface of the tooth, so if you want a major whitening effect, professional whitening treatments are the way to go, she says.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s a devoted tooth brusher (and newly committed flosser) and loves trying out all kinds of new toothpaste regularly. 

Meet the Expert

Dr. Victoria Veytsman, DDS, is a cosmetic dentist and founder of Cosmetic Dental Studios in New York City.

Dr. Fadwa Robb, DDS, is a cosmetic dentist at Madison Dental Partners in New York City.

Dr. Sharon Huang, DDS, MICOI, is a cosmetic dentist and founder of Les Belles NYC, one of the fastest-growing dental practices in Manhattan. 

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Healthy mouth, healthy body. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2006;137(4):563.

  2. Gum disease and heart disease: The common thread. Harvard Health.

  3. Talha B, Swarnkar SA. Xerostomia. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; June 4, 2021.

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