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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 promises that this toothpaste can remove up to 100 percent of surface stains in five days. 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
This toothpaste whitens with peroxide and baking soda meant for maximum effectiveness, lifting stains and bringing a brighter smile. With fluoride, it promises to help prevent cavities, neutralize harmful acids that can erode and weaken enamel, and has a low abrasion formula that won’t hurt enamel. The Stain Defense technology promises to prevent 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
There’s no need to worry about icky ingredients with Tom’s of Maine. Packed with natural ingredients, this multitasker promises to whiten teeth, prevent plaque and tartar build-up, and freshen 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
This tooth powder is about as natural as it gets with ingredients so safe, you could eat them. It contains powerful coconut oil, and turmeric and promises to help naturally lift stains from your teeth. 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
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 meant to quickly help relieve sensitivity, and it keeps working to prevent pain for 24 hours, according to the brand. 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
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, according to the brand.
Best Charcoal: Hello Oral Care Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
No, it’s not your imagination—activated charcoal really is popping up in everything these days. It’s beloved for potentially pulling out impurities, and that goes for your teeth as well. Hello’s charcoal toothpaste is formulated with charcoal claimed to remove the compounds that stain your teeth and sustainable bamboo meant to naturally detox and remove odors, making it great for polishing and whitening.
To leave you with 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— meant to fight plaque, freshen breath, and whiten teeth. It's also SLS-free and EWG-verified, meaning it shouldn't contain any ingredients that could be harmful to your health. Lastly, its adorable packaging 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 meant to whiten instead. The toothpaste promises to protect 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
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, a proprietary form of calcium peroxide which is meant to help whiten teeth. 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 promises to keep 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 is meant to 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
This Burt's Bees toothpaste delivers fluoride-free whitening at an affordable price. Hydrated silica is meant 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.
Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is our pick of the best whitening toothpaste because it can remove surface stains in 5 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 on 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 calcium carbonate) that physically scrubs stains off the surface of the teeth. This is typically considered 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 expect only a slightly brighter, whiter smile over time. Whitening toothpaste tends to work 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?
Most whitening toothpaste is safe for short-term daily use, but if the product has an overly abrasive formula it could accelerate wear of your enamel if you use it for years, says Nejad. If you plan on using a whitening toothpaste daily for an extended period of time, be sure to discuss this with your dentist, particularly if you already have damaged enamel or worn areas on your teeth from underlying conditions.
Does whitening toothpaste make your teeth more sensitive?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.