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Whitening toothpastes can lighten stains and brighten teeth over time. While they may not be as fast or effective as other options, such as whitening strips or professional dental treatments, whitening toothpastes work and can help improve your smile, plus boost your confidence.

Not every whitening toothpaste on the market lives up to its claims of a brighter smile. The ones on this list were chosen because they come from trusted, transparent manufacturers. They also contain ingredients scientifically proven to whiten teeth.

Oral health is about more than white teeth. For that reason, we only included products that fight cavities as well as improve tooth color.

We also looked at cost and analyzed user reviews to gauge the occurrence of side effects such as tooth sensitivity.

Price Guide

Some of the toothpastes on our list are sold in multipacks. We’ve indicated price as follows for the quantity provided:

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10-$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best overall

Colgate Optic White Whitening Toothpaste

  • Price: $$
  • Active whitening agent: hydrogen peroxide

Colgate Optic White Whitening Toothpaste has the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This provides you with confidence that the product is safe to use and lives up to its claims.

Unlike many other whitening toothpastes, Colgate Optic White removes two kinds of stains from teeth: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains occur on the outside of teeth. Intrinsic stains happen inside teeth, but they can be seen on the outside.

This product contains 2 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is considered the gold standard for stain removal. It also contains cavity-fighting fluoride.

Pros

  • removes intrinsic and extrinsic stain
  • safe for tooth enamel
  • whitens teeth by three shades or more
  • vegan formula

Cons

  • may be too harsh for people with sensitive teeth and gums
  • may not provide enough whitening for tough coffee stains

Best for people who smoke cigarettes

Colgate Optic White Renewal Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste

  • Price: $$
  • Active whitening agent: hydrogen peroxide

This next-generation whitening toothpaste contains more hydrogen peroxide than other Colgate Optic White toothpastes. This makes it a more effective teeth-whitener for people with tough tooth stains, such as those caused by cigarettes, red wine, tea, and coffee. It also works on both extrinsic and intrinsic stains.

The amount of hydrogen peroxide this product contains may make it uncomfortable for some people to use, especially those with sensitive teeth. Some users also report a burning sensation in their gums with extended use.

This toothpaste has an expiration date of 7 months, so check the label before you buy, especially if you buy in bulk.

Pros

  • whitens tough stains including those caused by smoking
  • vegan formula
  • refreshing mint taste

Cons

  • may be too strong for sensitive teeth and gums
  • may cause a burning sensation
  • short shelf life

Best with natural ingredients

Tom’s of Maine Simply White Natural Toothpaste

  • Price: $$$
  • Active whitening agent: silica

If you want to avoid artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives, this whitening toothpaste may be right for you.

Tom’s of Main Simply White Natural Toothpaste gets its whitening power from silica. This is an effective product for removing extrinsic tooth stains on teeth, though it won’t lighten the appearance of intrinsic tooth stains.

It contains fluoride for cavity protection, and acts as an effective breath-freshener.

Two formulations are available: cream or gel. Both carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Pros

  • no artificial sweeteners or dyes
  • available as a cream or gel
  • fights cavities
  • freshens breath

Cons

  • will not remove tough stains
  • doesn’t lighten intrinsic stains

Best for sensitive teeth

Sensodyne ProNamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

  • Price: $$
  • Active whitening agent: silica

Like all Sensodyne products, this toothpaste is formulated to be gentle on sensitive teeth. The active ingredients in Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste are potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride. It also contains silica for gentle whitening.

This product is designed to gently scrub away stains, plus strengthen and harden tooth enamel. It also protects against cavities.

Pros

  • strengthens and hardens tooth enamel
  • gentle whitening for sensitive teeth
  • protects teeth from acids in foods

Cons

  • does not remove intrinsic stains
  • not strong enough for tough stains

Best for braces

Arm & Hammer Advanced White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

  • Price: $
  • Active whitening agent: baking soda and peroxide

The type of braces you have will determine how effective any whitening toothpaste will be. Traditional bracket braces may be harder to work with than removable aligners.

This toothpaste is designed to penetrate deep between teeth and under the gumline, so it may be more effective at whitening teeth with braces than some other types. It also features a low-abrasion formula.

The active whitening ingredients are baking soda and carbonate peroxide. It also contains fluoride for cavity prevention.

Pros

  • budget-friendly
  • fights cavities
  • removes old surface stains and prevents new stains from forming

Cons

  • only whitens teeth by two shades
  • does not remove intrinsic stains

Best Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste

Crest Charcoal 3D White Whitening Therapy Toothpaste

Price: $$

Active whitening agent: silica and charcoal

This black-and-white striped, mint-flavored toothpaste provides the benefits of charcoal without any black powder mess. It contains silica to gently scrub away surface stains, plus fluoride for fighting cavities.

Pros

  • strengthens enamel
  • fights cavities
  • pleasant taste

Cons

  • only removes surface stains from teeth
  • may be too strong for sensitive teeth

Best responsibly sourced ingredients

Burt’s Bees Charcoal + Whitening Mountain Mint Toothpaste with Fluoride

  • Price: $
  • Active whitening agent: silica and charcoal

This toothpaste contains fluoride for cavity protection. Burt’s Bees make fluoride and fluoride-free versions, so check the label before you buy.

It contains charcoal responsibly sourced from coconuts and sustainable bamboo. It also contains naturally derived hydrated silica obtained from sand. These ingredients gently whiten teeth by removing surface stains.

Pros

  • gentle whitener
  • refreshing mint taste
  • packaging is 100 percent recyclable

Cons

  • only removes surface stains

Reach for the ADA Seal of Acceptance

Not every whitening toothpaste contains the ADA Seal. While this does remove a layer of protection, it doesn’t necessarily mean that products without it are unsafe or ineffective. To check to see if a toothpaste has the seal, click here.

Know which whitening method

Check out the active and inactive ingredients listed on whitening toothpaste labels. Whitening ingredients to look for include hydrogen peroxide and silica. Silica products are usually best for sensitive teeth and gums.

The higher the hydrogen peroxide content, the more effective the toothpaste will be at whitening. Keep in mind that this could make the product more likely to irritate your teeth and gums.

Some whitening toothpastes use abrasives, such as microbeads, to remove stains. These can be effective for tough stains and for removing dental biofilm plaque from teeth.

However, some people don’t like the feel of abrasives in their mouth. And regular use of abrasive toothpastes can wear away more than stains.

Read the ingredients

If cavity protection is important to you, only use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Avoid products that contain ingredients you’re sensitive or allergic to, such as flavorings, dyes, or artificial sweeteners. Some people are also allergic to cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) and propylene glycol, two ingredients commonly found in toothpaste.

Choose a reputable brand that’s manufactured ethically in a country known for manufacturing transparency and safety. Avoid any toothpaste that doesn’t contain an ingredients list or makes claims that seem far-fetched.

Does whitening toothpaste actually work?

When used correctly, whitening toothpaste can remove surface stains from teeth. Some also lessen intrinsic stains from within teeth. You can expect an effective whitening toothpaste to lighten teeth by two or three shades.

Does whitening toothpaste damage enamel?

Whitening toothpaste can damage enamel if it’s overused or contains strong abrasives. Make sure to follow the directions for use. You can also look for a toothpaste that contains ingredients that protect enamel, such as stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride, or calcium phosphate.

Is it safe to use whitening toothpaste daily?

Yes. Most types of whitening toothpaste can safely be used twice daily for 2-minute intervals. Read the directions for use on the toothpaste packaging for product-specific guidance.

Does using whitening toothpaste increase teeth sensitivity?

Many kinds of whitening toothpaste contain ingredients that are uncomfortable for sensitive teeth and gums. Using them can make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold. If your toothpaste is uncomfortable for you to use, discontinue it and find a milder type. This should reduce sensitivity. You may need to talk with your dentist if sensitivity persists after switching toothpastes to make sure you do not have enamel damage or cavities.

Whitening toothpastes can remove stains from teeth, improving their appearance. While they may not provide the same amount of deep whitening that professional treatments do, they’re a good way to boost your smile’s appearance, and keep it looking bright and white.

The products on this list all come from trusted manufacturers, and have been shown to improve the whiteness of teeth.