12 Whitening Toothpastes That Actually Work

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Whitening Toothpastes

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone willing to turn down a megawatt smile. The fastest way to get one is with a professional whitening treatment at the dentist's office, but those sessions can be costly and even painful for some. For a whiter smile, over-the-counter whitening toothpaste is a good ​runner up. While the results won’t be as dramatic as an in-office whitening treatment, they are good for removing surface stains from things such as tea and coffee, says Beverly Hills celebrity dentist Dr. Matt Nejad

Read on for the best whitening toothpaste available now.

Best Overall: Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste

Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste

In just three days, this toothpaste can remove up to 95% of surface stains. That is pretty impressive, and that’s precisely what makes it Crest’s most advanced formula. The toothpaste also prevents future stains with its 3X Stain Fighting Power. Though powerful, it's safe even for those with sensitive teeth and is safe on enamel. Plus, it contains fluoride to fight cavities.

Best Budget: Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Baking Soda and Peroxide Toothpaste

This toothpaste whitens with peroxide and baking soda for double the effectiveness, lifting stains and bringing a brighter smile. It contains fluoride to prevent cavities, removes plaque in tough-to-reach spots, controls tartar, neutralizes harmful acids that can erode and weaken enamel, delivers a deep clean by penetrating between teeth to reach the gum line, and has a low abrasion formula that won’t hurt enamel. The Stain Defense technology prevents new stains from forming, too, all in a clean mint flavor. Plus, with the low price, you can stock up without your wallet noticing.

Best Natural: Tom's of Maine Antiplaque Natural Whitening Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening

There’s no need to worry about icky ingredients with Tom’s of Maine. Packed with natural ingredients, this multitasker whitens teeth, prevents plaque and tartar build-up, and freshens breath, all without artificial dyes, sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. It contains zinc citrate, a naturally occurring mineral sourced from zinc, and xylitol, which organically comes from birch trees or corn. The toothpaste is fluoride-free and has a refreshing natural peppermint flavor. Plus, the brand doesn’t test on animals, so it’s cruelty-free and vegan.

Runner-Up, Best Natural: Go Natural Herbal Whitening Tooth Powder

Go Natural

This tooth powder is about as natural as it gets with ingredients so safe, you could eat them. It contains powerful bentonite clay, coconut oil, and turmeric to naturally lift stains from your teeth and remove toxins from your system. A little intimidated by the idea of a tooth powder? Don't be! Users say it tastes great and leaves teeth feeling clean.

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Behold, one of the best whitening toothpastes for sensitive teeth. There's a reason Sensodyne's Extra Whitening toothpaste is the best-selling toothpaste in the country. It contains potassium nitrate to quickly help relieve sensitivity, and it keeps working to prevent pain for 24 hours. While getting your pearly whites at their peak by removing surface stains, also delivers cavity protection.

Runner-Up, Best for Sensitive Teeth: Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening products can be harsh on sensitive teeth, but that's not the case with this Opalescence toothpaste. Its formula is actually designed to reduce tooth sensitivity (thanks to maximum-strength potassium nitrate), while sodium fluoride helps prevent cavities and strengthens enamel. But just because it's gentle doesn't mean it's ineffective—use it daily for just 30 days to brush your way to teeth that are two shades whiter.

Best Charcoal: Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

 Hello Oral Care

Key Ingredients

Activated charcoal is created from carbon-rich materials burned at high temperatures, like coal, coconut shells, and wood. There are claims that it binds to and removes impurities, but more research is needed.

No, it’s not your imagination—activated charcoal really is popping up in everything these days. It’s beloved for pulling out impurities, and that goes for your teeth as well. By removing the compounds that stain your teeth, it leaves you with a brighter smile. Hello’s charcoal toothpaste is formulated with sustainable bamboo, which naturally detoxes and removes odors, making it great for polishing and whitening.

To leave you with a fresh, minty breath, this formula also contains coconut oil, mint, spearmint, and peppermint. Plus, it fights plaque and is free of fluoride, sulfates, artificial sweeteners and flavors, microbeads, parabens, gluten, and triclosan. And to prove that it’s chock full of charcoal, the toothpaste is actually black. That means it can be a little messy for your sink, but good for your teeth.

Best Eco-Friendly: David's Premium Natural Toothpaste

This fluoride-free toothpaste was designed with both your teeth and the environment in mind. Its formula contains high-quality natural ingredients—like baking soda, xylitol, and peppermint oil— to fight plaque, freshen breath, and whiten teeth. It's also SLS-free and EWG-verified, meaning it doesn't contain any ingredients that could be harmful to your health. Lastly, its adorable packing is recyclable, and it comes with a metal tube key to help squeeze out use every last bit.

Best Flavor: Marvis Whitening Mint Toothpaste

Nothing elevates a shelfie like a tube of Marvis toothpaste. Based in Florence, Italy, like many other Italian brands, they are famous for their design. Marvis is equally known for its beautifully packaging as its intriguing flavors. (A couple of unique flavors include Amarelli Licorice and Jasmine Mint.) The creamy formula doesn’t include peroxide and uses silica to whiten instead. The toothpaste protects teeth while brightening and helps prevent tartar, decay, and plaque. The crisp mint flavor keeps breath fresh long after you’ve brushed.

Best Splurge: Supersmile Professional Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Supersmile Professional Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

If you have already invested in a professional whitening treatment, you’ll want to make another splurge on this toothpaste. It’s designed to maintain the results of bleached or bonded teeth. The ingredient spotlight is on Calprox, which gently dissolves a protein called a pellicle that can attract stains, and also prevents bacteria growth. And the Original Mint flavor keeps you feeling fresh.

Best for Fresh Breath: Colgate Total Fresh + Whitening Gel Toothpaste

The freshness won’t go away as soon as you put your toothbrush down. This toothpaste keeps breath super fresh for up to a whopping 12 ​hours and will fight germs for that timeframe, too. It tastes good, too: The formula contains an added flavor booster. Over time, it will help prevent plaque, gingivitis, tartar build-up, bad breath, and cavities. Now that’s something to smile about.

Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees Purely White Zen Peppermint Toothpaste

Burt's Bees Purely White Toothpaste

This Burt's Bees toothpaste delivers fluoride-free whitening at an affordable price. Hydrated silica works to remove surface stains, while peppermint leaves you feeling fresh and clean. This formula is also made without SLS, parabens, artificial flavors and sweeteners, preservatives, and plastic microbeads—plus, the packaging is recyclable.

Final Verdict

Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is our pick of the best whitening toothpaste because it can remove up to 95% of surface stains in just three days. If your teeth are extra sensitive, few toothpaste brands are more worthy of your bathroom counter space than Sensodyne. Their Extra Whitening Toothpaste specifically is an ace at promoting pearly whites while providing protection against unwanted sensitivity.

What To Look For In a Whitening Toothpaste

The mechanism of whitening action

Nejad says this is the single most important criteria to look for in whitening toothpaste. Most formulas rely on one of two options. Some use hydrogen peroxide or other chemical ingredients for chemical whitening or to essentially bleach the teeth. When used in toothpaste, this ingredient doesn't stay teeth for a long enough period of time to make a big difference.

Others work via abrasive action, containing an ingredient (such as silica or baking soda) that physically scrubs stains off the surface of the teeth. This is the more effective of the two in toothpaste, although whitening formulas like these should be used with caution to avoid damaging the tooth enamel.

Does whitening toothpaste work?

It does, though the results you’ll achieve won’t necessarily be super dramatic. Instead, expect a slightly brighter, whiter smile over time. Whitening toothpaste works by eliminating the stains of the surface of the tooth, rather than actually changing the color of the tooth itself. 

Is it safe to use whitening toothpaste every day?

It’s safe to use most whitening toothpaste every day for the short term. Be careful, however— if the product has an overly abrasive formula, then you should expect accelerated wear of your enamel if you use it for years, says Nejad. While this may not be a problem for most, if you already have damaged enamel or worn areas on your teeth from underlying conditions, then this potential risk is more concerning. In short, if you’re using a whitening toothpaste daily for weeks and months, and years on end, be sure to discuss this with your dentist

Does whitening toothpaste make your teeth more sensitive?

While it is possible, it’s unlikely that a whitening toothpaste will make your teeth more sensitive, says Nejad.

 According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough whitening toothpastes from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP. 

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