Dentists recommend the 8 best whitening toothpastes that actually work

When we’re talking about whiter and brighter smiles, we give major props to the best whitening toothpastes out there that make our oral care routines a bit easier.

In tandem with your best electric toothbrush, a dentist-formulated toothpaste can help make your pearly whites shine and sparkle, helping to transform your smile a few shades whiter over time.

Oh, and no shade to at-home teeth whitening kits. In fact, using a whitening toothpaste is great to pair with one of your treatment options (after all, you brush twice a day — why not go all in?)

“Whitening toothpastes typically work by using micro-abrasive ingredients that scrub the surface stain off of teeth making them appear whiter,” Lilya Horowitz, DDS, Williamsburg-based, board-certified dentist at Domino Dental, told the New York Post. “Common abrasives found in toothpaste are aluminum oxide, calcium pyrophosphate, and hydrated silica. I would recommend steering clear of any toothpastes or hygiene products with charcoal.”

To have you researching less and brushing more, Dr. Horowitz and Lauren Becker, DDS, board-certified general and cosmetic dentist, highlight the eight best whitening toothpastes below. Luckily, they answered some FAQs below to help you learn all there is to know about your go-getter smile.

Click to jump to the dentist-approved whitening toothpastes:

Do whitening toothpastes actually work?

Ah, the question we all want answers to. According to Dr. Becker, at home whitening toothpastes “can remove surface stains, but they can’t go beyond that, removing the yellow and grayness of teeth from the daily factors that changed our teeth.”

What’s more, some whitening toothpastes can be abrasive to the hard outer part of the tooth known as enamel. This can increase tooth sensitivity.

What toothpaste ingredients to look for if you have sensitive teeth

Of course, inflammation or any issues in the tooth arena are unwanted. So, it’s best to brush up on the best ingredients for sensitive teeth — pun totally intended.

Dr. Becker recommends looking for formulas that have stannous fluoride or a hydroxyapatite. “For sensitive teeth, look for a whitening toothpaste with little to no abrasive ingredients,” Dr. Horowitz adds.

The 411 on popular toothpaste ingredients

Ahead, our experts explain what the difference between charcoal, fluoride and peroxide — the trio you’ve heard of, but may not know enough about:

  • Charcoal: This ingredient is abrasive and removes enamel, so anything with this should be avoided.
  • Fluoride: This is a naturally occurring mineral and helps decrease tooth decay.
  • Peroxide: This acts as a bleaching agent to change the color of your teeth. It’s important to look at the percentage of this in your toothpaste so it’s not too high of a concentration.

What ingredients are found in vegan whitening toothpastes?

If you’re looking to shop more sustainably (or, simply prefer vegan toothpaste), they’re definitely on the market.

“For people who are vegan, they can look into vegan toothpastes which do not include animal-derived ingredients like glycerin or calcium phosphate which is made from bones or bee-sourced propolis,” Dr. Horowitz explains. Coconut oil is another ingredient, Dr. Becker adds, though may not be as effective.

How do celebrities get their teeth so white?

We’re thinking this, too, but according to our dental experts, there’s much more to it.

“Celebrities usually have veneers or other cosmetic dentistry done to appear to have a whiter smile,” Dr. Horowitz notes. “Beyond this, teeth are often retouched in celebrity photos.”

What is the ADA Seal? Should my toothpaste have this?

If you’re toothpaste has the ADA (American Dental Association, for short), it means the toothpaste has been tested and approved by the organization’s parameters. “To get this seal, you must submit data from clinical and/or laboratory studies that demonstrate safety and efficacy according to product category requirements developed by the ADA,” Dr. Horowitz explains.

This means they are generally safer to use as not all whitening toothpastes are intended for everyday use, according to Dr. Becker.

Best Whitening Toothpastes

1. Crest 3D White Brilliance 2-Step Kit, $13, original price: $15


“The Crest HD Two-Step Whitening & Healthier Mouth System is my favorite OTC Whitening product that gives patients noticeable results in under a week’s time that also won’t break the bank,” Dr. Becker says. “White strips can be bulky, annoying and require consistency and time while all this requires is the two minutes that you should already be brushing your teeth.”

The Step 1 cleanser helps remove plaque while helping prevent sensitivity. Step 2, alternatively, contains peroxide (the active bleaching agent in any whitening product) and helps whiten and brighten.

2. CariFree Gel 1100 Anti-Cavity Toothpaste, $18


Dr. Horowitz recommends CariFree’s Gel 1100 Anti-Cavity Toothpaste because “it has a high pH, making it less acidic and less abrasive.” Additionally, its formula helps prevent tooth decay and white spots (which we all want and need).

3. Crest Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste (4-Pack), $28


If you’re looking for an ADA-approved toothpaste, Crest’s Pro-Health Advanced Antibacterial Protection Toothpaste is for you. “It offers ingredients that help to whiten but won’t break down your teeth,” Dr. Becker adds.

4. Tom’s of Maine Simply White Fluoride Toothpaste (3-Pack), $17


Toms of Maine’s Simply White Toothpaste with fluoride is a less abrasive toothpaste without bleach or harsh ingredients,” Dr. Horowitz notes. Not only that, but a three pack of whitening formulas for just $17 is a pretty good deal on Amazon.

5. Rembrandt Intense Stain Whitening Toothpaste (2-Pack), $12 to $13


Uniquely, Dr. Becker stands by the Rembrandt Intense Stain Whitening Toothpaste because it’s more on the neutral side of pH, which is recommended for sensitive gums. Plus, its fresh mint scent and fluoride ingredient are nice touches.

6. Crest + Scope Complete Whitening Toothpaste (2-4 Pack), $5 to $10


Why Crest’s + Scope Complete Whitening Toothpaste? Well, according to Dr. Horowitz, “it offers stain removing [capabilities] while also fighting tartar and other bacteria.” Plus, it’s one of the best for that fresh scent (thank you, Scope!)

7. Colgate Enamel Health Sensitivity Relief Toothpaste, $13


Notably, Colgate’s Enamel Health Sensitivity Relief Toothpaste — as its name suggests — “is less abrasive and better for sensitive teeth,” according to Dr. Horowitz. It’s a wonderful formula that also helps replenish your teeth’s natural calcium.

8. Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste, $16


The Supersmile Professional Whitening Toothpaste is “75% less abrasive than the guidelines set by the ADA, so it’s great for sensitive teeth and/or avoiding teeth sensitivity,” according to Dr. Horowitz. It also helps whiten your teeth six shades (sign us up!)

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