The 8 Best Whitening Toothpastes of 2023, According to Dentists

Spruce up those pearly whites

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Whitening Toothpaste

Byrdie / Kevin Liang

Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Teeth whitening has always been a popular sub-section of beauty, but at-home options, like whitening toothpaste, are a newer innovation. Luckily for us, DIY whitening has come leaps and bounds in recent years, and it’s not possible to see great results from something as simple as brushing your teeth. 

According to Dr. Marina Gonchar, a board-certified orthodontist, whitening toothpastes work in two ways—either removing surface stains mechanically (through abrasives like silica or charcoal) or whitening teeth from the inside out via chemical bleaching agents. While these kinds of toothpaste can help achieve a brighter, whiter smile, the right formula really comes down to your oral health, personal preference, and desired results. 

So, to cover all bases, we tapped several dental experts for their recommendations and even tested a handful of the best whitening toothpastes at home over the course of four weeks. The result: This curated list of whitening toothpastes. We considered efficacy (like how well each whitens teeth), comfort (since sensitivity is a big topic of concern with whitening toothpastes), and taste. With our carefully chosen list of the best whitening toothpastes below, you can get on your way to a brighter, whiter smile. 

Best Overall

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Gentle on enamel

  • Great for everyday use

  • Removes stains and prevents cavities

What We Don't Like
  • Lackluster taste

For a whitening toothpaste to capture the best overall spot, it needed to be recommended by a dentist we trust and perform well during testing. The Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste from Sensodyne did exactly that, and then some. According to New York-based dentist and dental professor Dr. Carla Tornatore D.D.S., it’s all thanks to a unique formula that removes stains, prevents cavities, and strengthens teeth at the same time. “It’s important for whitening toothpaste to be gentle on enamel (the thin outer layer of a tooth); this toothpaste actually helps strengthen enamel, improving the overall health of your teeth in addition to brightening your smile,” she explains. A win-win.

During testing, we noticed that the toothpaste brightened teeth stains but it didn’t produce permanent whitening results—however, that’s to be expected, since toothpaste is only on the teeth for a short period of time. Even in that short time frame, however, we never experienced any stinging, burning, or discomfort. The only thing we didn’t love was the taste. It wasn't horrible, per se, it’s just very strong. It does leave breath nice and minty, but reminded us more of the toothpaste you use at a dentist’s office when getting teeth cleaned: simple but effective.

Price at time of publish: $7

Ingredients: Potassium nitrate, Sodium fluoride, Hydrated silica | Size: 4 oz.

Best for Sensitive Teeth

Crest Gum and Sensitivity Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

Crest Gum and Sensitivity Gentle Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Non-irritating to teeth or gums

  • Pleasant and smooth texture

What We Don't Like
  • Slower and more subtle results than bleach options

According to oral care expert Monica Biga, those with sensitive teeth should avoid whitening toothpastes formulated with peroxide, a bleaching agent that “opens the pores of the enamel and changes the color of the tooth from the inside, making it appear whiter." That’s why she recommends Crest Pro-Health Gum & Sensitivity Whitening Toothpaste for those with sensitive teeth as it avoids peroxide and instead contains fluoride and silica, the latter of which is known to remove surface stains, particularly those that come from tea, coffee, and wine.

This toothpaste achieved a perfect score for comfort and did not add any sensitivity to already sensitive teeth, making it much easier to consume hot and cold liquids without wincing in pain. The foamy formula is gentle and pleasant with no grittiness, and you can expect a refreshing, clean feeling. Not only does it have our approval, but it’s also earned the American Dental Association’s literal stamp of approval after finding that it’s both safe and effective to “relieve sensitivity in otherwise normal teeth, and to prevent or reduce enamel erosion from dietary acids.” 

During testing, we noticed an improvement in whitening by one shade after four weeks. It may not seem like much, but given that teeth whitening products typically exacerbate sensitivity issues, we feel that even some improvement in overall brightness without discomfort is a win here. Plus, long-term use may yield even more drastic results.

Price at time of publish: $7

Ingredients: Stannous fluoride, Hydrated silica | Size: 4.1 oz.

Best for Surface Stains

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Removes existing stains and prevents new stains

  • Maintains enamel strength while whitening with a gentle abrasive

What We Don't Like
  • On the pricier end

This toothpaste from Opalescence is gentle on enamel and helps protect teeth from cavities, stains, and more, so it's no wonder that it’s been recommended by both Tornatore and Gonchar. “This formula in particular is a great option for those who have experienced tooth sensitivity while whitening. It contains silica, an abrasive that removes external stains, along with potassium nitrate, which is an excellent desensitizer,” Gonchar explains. “Plus, the addition of sodium fluoride helps maintain the strength of the enamel.” Tornatore agrees, adding that it does a really good job removing surface stains and maintaining whiteness after an in-office bleaching treatment. 

We found it to be really effective in the first few days of use, with teeth appearing two shades brighter than before. The only complaint we have is that it’s on the pricier end of the spectrum, but at 10 dollars, it's totally worth the splurge.

Price at time of publish: $10

Ingredients: Sodium fluoride, Potassium nitrate, Hydrated silica | Type: Abrasive | Size: 4.7 oz.

Best with Hydrogen Peroxide

Colgate Optic White Advanced Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Colgate Optic White Advanced Teeth Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Chemically whitens teeth to avoid abrasion of enamel

  • Prevents cavities

  • Freshens breath

What We Don't Like
  • Can cause sensitivity with prolonged use

Many teeth whitening toothpastes contain peroxide of some sort, and that’s because it’s an effective bleaching agent. In fact, “peroxide opens the pores of the enamel in your teeth and changes their color from the inside out, making them appear whiter,” says Biga.  While that sounds a little scary, we promise it’s not. This toothpaste from Colgate is one that Gonchar swears by, explaining that she uses it on patients to avoid damaging the enamel that can otherwise happen with grittier formulas. Plus, with the addition of desensitizing agents, she says it’s a great pick for those who are looking to avoid discomfort—just don’t use it for more than a few weeks at a time. 

As with all good things, though, it does take time to see results. Edmond R. Hewlett, D.D.S. explains that with peroxide, the length of contact with the teeth matters most. He recommends brushing for two minutes, twice a day. Following his instructions, we found that after brushing with this toothpaste both day and night, it takes about two weeks to really see a difference. Whitening aside, we enjoyed the minty flavor while testing and appreciated that it wiped away even the most garlicky of meals. 

Price at time of publish: $5

Ingredients: Sodium monofluorophosphate, Hydrogen peroxide, Silica | Size: 3.2 oz.

Best With Baking Soda

Colgate Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening Bubbles Toothpaste

Colgate Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Contains a double whammy of baking soda and peroxide

  • Great value

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for sensitive gums

Boosted with both baking soda and peroxide, this toothpaste promises to lift surface stains and help maintain a brighter smile. How? Baking soda is helpful in more than just the kitchen. It’s a mild abrasive, so it helps remove stains from the surface of your teeth. It’s alkaline and salty, which is especially helpful lifting stains from food and drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine, says Tornatore. What’s more, peroxide acts as a disinfectant to prevent plaque buildup.

With all that scrubbing power, we were surprised to find out that the peroxide and baking soda combination feels comfortable on teeth and gums, imparting a subtle minty feeling that doesn’t burn or tingle. It’s important to note, however, that these ingredients might cause a reaction in those with ultra-sensitive teeth or gums.

Price at time of publish: $2

Ingredients: Sodium fluoride, Potassium nitrate, Baking soda, Peroxide, Hydrated silica | Size: 6 oz.

Best for Cavity Prevention

Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Contains potassium nitrate to help mitigate sensitivity

  • Doctor-recommended

What We Don't Like
  • Better for maintaining treatments than at-home whitening

The Extra Whitening Sensitive Teeth Whitening Toothpaste from Sensodyne is Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, D.M.D.’s favorite. Why? First and foremost, it has all the anticavity properties needed to prevent cavities while also leaning on potassium nitrate to help mitigate sensitivity. “I recommend Sensodyne because it utilizes pentasodium tripphosphate, an ingredient that removes surface stains without being too abrasive on enamel,” she explains. “It’s perfect for maintaining whitened teeth at home—just brush two to three times daily with this toothpaste and floss.” 

You shouldn’t expect pearly white teeth overnight (a toothpaste doesn’t really have the ability to do that, given they’re only on the teeth for a short amount of time), but every little bit counts, especially when dark beverages and other teeth-staining elements are involved. 

Price at time of publish: $16 for 3 pack

Ingredients: Potassium nitrate, Sodium fluoride, Hydrated silica  | Size: 4 oz.

Best for Gum Health

Crest Pro-Health Advanced Gum Restore Whitening Toothpaste

Crest Pro-Health Advanced Gum Restore Whitening Toothpaste


What We Like
  • Easy on sensitive gums

  • Gentle yet effective

  • Foams upon contact with water

What We Don't Like
  • Subtle whitening results

If you have a sensitive mouth, chances are you’re hesitant to start adding a whitening toothpaste into the mix. Most formulas have a reputation for being irritating, but the Crest Pro-Health Advanced Gum Restore Whitening Toothpaste is easy on sensitive gums. We love that it leaves the teeth and mouth clean and refreshed, sans itching and burning. As for the feel, this toothpaste couldn’t be more pleasant. There’s no grittiness (a win for sensitive mouths) and it foams slightly upon contact with water, which gives the impression of an extra-deep clean. Best of all, it’s ADA-accepted and contains sodium fluoride (an ingredient that prevents tooth decay), both of which Tornatore says are key when trying to decide between formulas. 

The hint of mint flavoring isn’t too strong, which is great for those who aren’t crazy about an overpowering taste. Instead, it leaves behind a fresh finish. Even if you sometimes forget to brush your teeth after coffee (it happens!), rest assured that this formula will help mitigate the discoloration over time. Results weren’t drastic, but with daily use, it makes a difference in the appearance of dark beverage-induced surface stains. Plus, we’ll take gum comfort over irritation any day. 

Price at time of publish: $7

Ingredients: Sodium fluoride, Hydrated silica | Size: 3.7 oz.

Best Flavor

Tom's of Maine Simply White Toothpaste Gel

Tom's of Maine Simply White Toothpaste Gel


What We Like
  • Tastes minty fresh

  • Helps with stain removal

  • Feels gentle on teeth

What We Don't Like
  • Texture can feel chalky

Cruelty-free, vegan, and formulated without artificial dyes, flavors, or preservatives, this ADA-approved toothpaste is a nice pick if you prefer a bleach-free option. It contains sodium fluoride and hydrated silica, plus xylitol, a natural sweetener, to assist with clean, bright teeth and healthy gums. The results aren’t overnight, but the formula does a really nice job of removing stains and preventing tooth decay, which Tornatore says helps with overall oral health. Despite having subtly abrasive polishing ingredients, it’s not too granular (though it can feel subtly chalky) and feels gentle.

The toothpaste comes in a number of different flavors (Sweet Mint, Mild Fruit, and Silly Strawberry to name a few), but none are overpowering or linger for too long—making it a great option for those who don’t love that cool burning sensation some toothpastes leave behind. 

Price at time of publish: $6

Ingredients: Sodium fluoride, Hydrated silica  | Size: 4.7 oz.

Final Verdict

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste is our top pick, as it came highly recommended to us by several dental experts and it performed well during testing. After a week of use, our teeth looked brighter and less stained, despite having upwards of two coffees a day. However, if your teeth are sensitive, you can't go wrong with the Crest Pro-Health Gum & Sensitivity Whitening Toothpaste. The ADA-accepted formula skips harsher ingredients like peroxide and instead leans on fluoride and silica to remove surface stains that come from tea, coffee, and red wine.

Meet the Expert

  • Dr. Marina Gonchar, D.M.D., M.S. is a board-certified orthodontist at Skin to Smile in Morristown, New Jersey. She received a Master’s degree and Certificate in Dentofacial Orthopedics and Orthodontics and completed training at NYU's Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery.
  • Dr. Carla Tornatore, D.D.S. is a pediatric dentist and Assistant Professor of Dentistry at Touro College of Dental Medicine. She and her husband Dr. Robert Tornatore, D.D.S own and operate Tornatore Family Dental in Westchester, New York. 
  • Monica Biga is an oral care expert, dental hygienist, and spokesperson who works for GSK. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Dental Hygiene/Hygienist from St. Petersburg College in Florida.
  • Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett, D.D.S. is a board-certified dentist based in California. He is a professor at UCLA School of Dentistry.
  • Dr. Rhonda Kalasho, D.M.D. is a Doctor of Dentistry based in Beverly Hills, California. She is the CEO of TruGlo Modern Dental, where she practices a range cosmetic, pediatric, emergency, and general dentistry. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Dentistry and completed a residency in hospital dentistry at UCSD/VA San Diego. 

What to Look for in a Whitening Toothpaste

Method of Whitening Action

The way in which whitening toothpaste actually whitens your teeth is the single most important criterion to think about when shopping. Most formulas rely on one of two options: chemical and abrasive actions. Some (like the Colgate Optic White Advanced Whitening Toothpaste) call on hydrogen peroxide or other chemical ingredients for chemical whitening—aka bleaching the teeth. Others work via abrasive action (like the Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste) through grittier ingredients like hydrated silica to physically scrub stains off the surface of the teeth. According to Kalasho, chemical whitening is a lot gentler than abrasives and can be a better option for those with sensitive teeth or mouths. “Abrasives can leave tiny scratches on the teeth if too intense and can actually cause more stains,” she explains. “Chemical formulas have the advantage here, as they lift the stain from the teeth, leaving the enamel intact.” 


Aside from whitening and stain-removing ingredients, there are other ingredients to look for in your toothpaste. Tornatore explains that anything with fluoride is a great pick. Gonchar and Kalasho agree, sharing any variation of fluoride works, like sodium fluoride which can be found in both Tom's of Maine Simply White Toothpaste Gel and Sensodyne Extra Whitening Sensitive Teeth Whitening Toothpaste.


Size also matters, especially since toothpaste is something you rely on daily, twice a day. To get your money’s worth, look for a product that comes in a larger tube (like the Colgate Baking Soda and Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste). For traveling, a smaller toothpaste will suit you best. The Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste, our Best Overall, comes in travel-friendly minis. 

  • Is it safe to use whitening toothpaste every day?

    Yes, it is. According to Kalasho, gentle formulas can be used every day. Most whitening toothpaste is safe for short-term daily use, though Gonchar recommends 30-day periods to avoid tooth sensitivity and enamel abrasion. f 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. 

  • How long does it take for teeth whitening toothpaste to work?

    According to Gonchar, you might have to use a whitening toothpaste twice daily for two to four weeks before you see adequate results. “After achieving necessary whitening, the toothpaste can be used once a week to upkeep the results,” she adds.

  • Does whitening toothpaste make your teeth more sensitive?

    While it is possible (especially if the toothpaste is particularly abrasive), it’s unlikely that a whitening toothpaste will make your teeth more sensitive if used for a short period of time. “Sensitivity depends on the whitening ingredient in the product, the length of time the product was used for, and the initial condition of teeth prior to whitening,” Gonchar explains. Teeth whitening treatments (like strips or LED light devices) are more likely to cause sensitivity as they sit on the teeth for longer periods of time. 

  • How do you prevent teeth from getting stained?

    According to Gonchar, teeth staining is often the result of diet, age, certain medical conditions, and certain medications. “Diet is one of the major reasons our teeth lose their luster over time; foods and drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, tomato products, and curry can cause staining over time,” she explains. “As we age, the outer layer of our teeth (aka the enamel) often abrades, exposing the underlayer of teeth, which has a yellow tint to it.” Although it’s not possible to completely avoid teeth from getting stained over time, she says, you can implement certain habits to minimize the effects of tooth-staining substances on your teeth. Brushing your teeth two to three times daily, flossing, and using whitening toothpaste can help mitigate the chance of stains. If you only do one thing, Tornatore says, the best way to keep your smile bright is to brush your teeth daily. “This helps prevent the build-up of stains on the outer surface of your teeth,” she explains. “Switching to an electric toothbrush can be even more effective.” 

How We Tested

Byrdie editors did extensive research on whitening toothpaste, taking expert recommendations into account before trying a few out at home. Each tester considered each formula’s effectiveness (or how well it whitens the teeth), comfort, and taste before deciding on a rating from one to five. To evaluate the whitening process during the test, we used the VITA Bleackguide 3D-Master, an online shade guide that incorporates 29 shade levels used by the American Dental Association (ADA). Then, we cross-referenced the highly-rated products with our expert-recommended picks before landing on these 8 toothpastes.  

Why Trust Byrdie

Caitlyn Martyn
is a staff commerce writer at Byrdie, where she covers all things beauty. An avid product tester, Caitlyn likes to try the latest and greatest in makeup, skincare, and oral care to let readers know what’s worth it and what’s not. She interviewed several dental experts for this story, carefully considering each of their recommendations. She then referred back to the insights our real-life testers recorded and landed on these picks.

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