The Best Toothpastes of 2022 for Whitening and Gum Health

Colgate's Cavity Protection Toothpaste contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay

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Shopping for the right toothpaste can be overwhelming because of the number of types available on store shelves. Since toothpaste is necessary to improve your oral hygiene, it is important to find one that works best for you and your mouth.

Reviewed & Approved

Infused with fluoride, Colgate's Cavity Protection Toothpaste strengthens teeth, prevents tooth decay, and leaves the mouth smelling minty. We also recommend Crest's Pro-Health Active Defense Toothpaste for fighting plaque and bacteria.

“When you’re shopping for toothpastes, you want to make sure that you are looking for ingredients that make you healthier,” says Erinne Kennedy, DMD, a dentist and spokesperson of the American Dental Association (ADA). Dr. Kennedy also recommends looking for active ingredients like fluoride and hydrogen peroxide, which will keep your mouth clean and free from disease.

We researched dozens of toothpastes and evaluated them for key ingredients, flavor, cavity prevention and other dental benefits, and price.

Here are the best toothpastes on the market today.

Best Overall: Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste with Fluoride

4.9
Colgate Cavity Protection

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • ADA accepted

  • Contains fluoride

  • Fresh mint flavor

Cons
  • Watery texture

We chose the Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste because it contains fluoride, which is a leading active ingredient used by dentists to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay. This is a great option for people who are looking to avoid cavities and remove any of the bad bacteria in the mouth that can cause decay or disease.

Additionally, the toothpaste comes in a refreshing mint flavor that will leave your mouth smelling fresh for hours to come after brushing. The best part is that the toothpaste is an affordable option for any budget. Plus, the toothpaste received the ADA’s seal of acceptance.

Price at time of publish: $10

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities

Expert Insight

"The ADA seal means that toothpaste has been independently tested to ensure that the fluoride and the ingredients in it are not only safe but they're efficacious and they work. By doing that you're ensuring that the toothpaste you're using is safe and effective." — Julius Manz, DDS, ADA Spokesperson

Best Budget: Crest Pro-Health Pro Active Defense Deep Clean Toothpaste

Crest Pro-Health Pro Active Defense Deep Clean Toothpaste

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Fights plaque and bacteria

  • ADA accepted

  • Contains .454% fluoride

Cons
  • Can have a drying effect on lips

Protecting your teeth should not have to come with a hefty price tag. The Crest Pro-Health Pro toothpaste makes brushing your teeth affordable, all while promoting a healthy oral hygiene. The toothpaste contains the active ingredient of fluoride, which works to fight any plaque build up on the teeth and prevent unwanted cavities.

Additionally, the toothpaste is an activated foam product, which means that it will foam up when brushing your teeth. This is essential to get the active ingredients to touch every surface of the mouth. After spitting out the excess, make sure to leave the remaining foam on the teeth so that the active ingredients can do what they are intended to do.

Price at time of publish: $15

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities, plaque and bacteria buildup

What the Experts Say

“I typically have my patients use a new toothpaste for a couple weeks and then in about less than a month have them report back to me on how they think that product is performing. However, if you have a reaction or any discomfort to using a new product, you want to stop using that product right away and contact your dentist so that you don’t keep using a product that is causing you discomfort.” – Dr. Erinne Kennedy

Best Whitening Toothpaste: Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

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

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Whitens teeth

  • Contains .24% fluoride

  • Helps prevent cavities

Cons
  • May be irritating to sensitive teeth

Stubborn stains and yellowing of the teeth can put a damper on any smile. But luckily there are a plethora of toothpastes on the market that make whitening your teeth at home easy and affordable, such as the Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste. The toothpaste contains a mixture of baking soda and peroxide, which together work to remove unwanted stains and whiten the teeth from the inside out.

Additionally, the product contains sodium fluoride as an active ingredient. So while the toothpaste is working to whiten the teeth, it is also strengthening the teeth and preventing tooth decay. Customers say they are left with a whiter smile after using the toothpaste and it doesn’t cause them any added sensitivity.

Price at time of publish: $15

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, baking soda, peroxide | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities; Whitens and brightens teeth

What the Experts Say

“There’s a common ingredient that helps with bad breath and whitening your teeth, which I think is the best of both worlds, and it is called hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide not only whitens your teeth from the inside out but it also impacts the bad bacteria in your mouth.” – Dr. Erinne Kennedy

Best for Gum Disease: Parodontax Toothpaste

Parodontax Toothpaste

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Help with gingivitis and bleeding gums

  • Freshens breath with cool mint flavor

  • ADA accepted

Cons
  • Not a whitening formula

  • May be too harsh for sensitive teeth

Gum disease can vary in different people, with symptoms developing like bleeding gums, tenderness, and a receding gum line. Leaving it untreated can cause more harm to the mouth, which is why it is important to seek the assistance of a dentist. But toothpastes like Parodontax can also assist with gum disease. The toothpaste is created with stannous fluoride, which works to strengthen the teeth and keep the seal between the teeth and the gums tight.

Brushing your teeth with a toothpaste like Parodontax will tackle the gum disease at its core so you can go back to having a healthy oral hygiene. But make sure to consult a dentist about what else you can do to address the gum disease.

Price at time of publish: $7

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities; Fights gingivitis and improves gum health

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Sensodyne Fresh Impact Sensitivity Toothpaste

Sensodyne Fresh Impact
Pros
  • Contains minerals that strengthen enamel

  • Gentle formula

  • ADA accepted

Cons
  • Poor cap design

Sensitive teeth can make eating and drinking uncomfortable, which is where Sensodyne Fresh Impact Sensitivity Toothpaste comes in. The toothpaste is formulated with the active ingredients of sodium fluoride and potassium nitrate. Together, these ingredients work to strengthen and reharden enamel to prevent future sensitivity. The toothpaste also helps protect against acid erosion on the teeth.

Price at time of publish: $54

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities in sensitive teeth; Whitens and brightens teeth

What the Experts Say

“Sometimes, if you do have sensitivity from using whitening products, you just want to make sure that you start with the lowest amount and work your way up to the highest amount of ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide.” – Dr. Erinne Kennedy

Best for Bad Breath: TheraBreath Fresh Breath Toothpaste

TheraBreath 24Hour Fresh Breath Toothpaste

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Contains .24% fluoride

  • Fights bad breath

  • Freshens breath for 24 hours

Cons
  • Does not whiten

  • No sensitivity protection

Nobody wants bad breath to ruin their day, especially if you don't know what might be causing it. The TheraBreath Fresh Breath Toothpaste was created for the main purpose to eliminate bad breath. To do this, the key ingredient in the toothpaste is sodium fluoride, which not only works to strengthen the teeth but also prevents tooth decay by eliminating bad bacteria. This bad bacteria is also responsible for causing bad breath, so using the toothpaste with the active ingredient works to eliminate that.

Additionally, the toothpaste contains xylitol, an ingredient that works as a sweetener, helping to make the toothpaste taste good. But it also is toxic to bad bacteria that can cause bad breath and tooth decay. So not only does TheraBreath toothpaste taste good, but it has a plethora of beneficial ingredients that will improve your oral hygiene.

Price at time of publish: $8

Active Ingredients: Fluoride | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities; Freshens breath

Best for Dry Mouth: Biotene Fluoride Toothpaste

Biotene Fluoride Toothpaste

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Helps with dry mouth

  • Toothpaste has 0.25% fluoride to fight cavities

  • Prevents cavities

Cons
  • Does not whiten

  • No sensitivity protection

Dry mouth can occur when your salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva for the mouth, which causes the feeling of discomfort and extreme dryness. There might be several reasons as to why you’re experiencing dry mouth, so it is important to consult a dentist to address the root causes. But toothpaste like Biotene Fluoride Toothpaste can help make the symptoms manageable when brushing your teeth.

It's formulated with sodium fluoride, so it works to both strengthen the teeth while preventing tooth decay. It is also alcohol-free and sugar-free, so the ingredients should not cause irritation or exacerbate your dry mouth.

Price at time of publish: $7

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, Biotene | Uses: Clean teeth and prevent cavities; Helps combat dry mouth

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for an affordable toothpaste that will address a majority of your oral hygiene concerns, such as preventing cavities and tooth decay, then we recommend the Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste (view at Amazon). If you find your teeth are more sensitive, then we recommend using the Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Toothpaste

Ingredients

It’s not the flashy lael that makes your teeth flashy and healthy, it’s the ingredients in the tube. Per the ADA, other active ingredients can help improve tooth sensitivity, whiten teeth, reduce gingivitis or protect against tartar build-up, or prevent enamel erosion or bad breath. Here are a few of the active ingredients to look for.

Fluoride: This is the single most important ingredient in any toothpaste. It “The main thing that the toothpaste adds to the brushing equation is fluoride. Fluoride is going to be the primary active ingredient in the toothpaste,” says Dr. Manz. Dr. Kennedy adds, "[Sodium flouride] is a safe way to strengthen your teeth and to prevent tooth decay or cavities.”

Dr. Manz adds, "The fluoride in toothpaste prevents the mineralization of the enamel due to acid attack from food and drink. If you have fluoride in your water and fluoride in the teeth from toothpaste, then the enamel remineralizes again more rapidly and you don't create that long-lasting demineralization which leads to cavities. The simplest explanation is that fluoride makes the teeth stronger.”

There are a few different types of fluoride that are commonly found in toothpastes, but stannous fluoride and sodium fluoride are some of the most popular. Stannous fluoride acts as an antibacterial agent, which can help eliminate bad breath and plaque buildup. It can also help reduce tooth hypersensitivity when brushing. Sodium fluoride, another common ingredient found in toothpastes, can help protect teeth from cavity formation.

Most fluoride-based toothpastes contain a concentration of at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. For people with severe tooth decay, a dentist may recommend a toothpaste with a concentration of up to 5,000 ppm.

Surfactant: If you see a scary-sounding term like sodium lauryl sulfate on the label, it’s not a cause for concern, per Dr. Manz. “Sodium lauryl sulfate which makes the toothpaste have that foaming action,” he says. “If you go to Europe, for instance, their toothpastes are very flat and they don't have that foaming action. Americans who try that toothpaste find it very unpalatable. So, the foaming makes it palatable, makes it a little bit more pleasurable for us to brush which is important so that we do it.”

Hydrogen Peroxide: Whitening Hydrogen peroxide removes both surface and intrinsic stains, leaving noticeably brighter, whiter teeth.

Xylitol: Another beneficial ingredient often found in toothpaste is xylitol, which acts like a sweetener to make the product taste good. “Not only does it make your toothpaste taste good, but it is toxic to bad bacteria that cause tooth decay,”

Abrasives: “Toothpastes may also contain calcium carbonate, silicate aluminum carbonates, or aluminum hydroxide; those things are abrasives,” says Dr. Manz. “I think most of the data really indicates that the action of the bristles of the toothbrush on our tooth is what really removes the majority of the plaque in the calculus.” These are cleaning and polishing agents added to toothpaste to remove surface stains and break up bacterial colonies. According to the ADA, toothpaste with a relative dentin abrasion of 250 or below is safe to use for daily brushing with appropriate techniques.

Taste

If you don’t like the taste of toothpaste, chances are, you aren’t going to want to use it. So, if the smell or taste of tea tree oil or mint doesn’t appeal to you, consider avoiding a product in which it is an ingredient. Unfortunately, the only real way to do a toothpaste taste test is by trying it out. Luckily, most retailers have return policies. 

Specific Dental Concerns

If you have any special dental needs—for example bleeding gums or sensitive teeth—you should choose a toothpaste formulated for that reason. Many people who fall into this category find traditional toothpastes too harsh for their needs.

“Those patients with sensitive teeth should look for brands like Sensodyne that incorporate potassium nitrate into their toothpaste formulas, as potassium nitrate helps to soothe inflamed nerves,” Dr. Kunen suggests. If you're unsure which toothpaste will best fit your individual needs, ask your dentist for guidance.

Although the ingredients in toothpastes should be your top consideration, it is also important to make sure that you’re brushing your teeth correctly with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. “Often patients rinse with water right after brushing. But when you do this, you actually rinse off all the active ingredients that we just talked about,” Dr. Kennedy says. Instead, she recommends spitting out the excess toothpaste and leaving the rest of the product to linger around the teeth. “You want to leave the teeny, tiny bubbles that you’ll see present around your teeth if you smile,” she says. “Those bubbles have those ingredients that are active and they’ll be able to strengthen your teeth and work to keep the bacteria in your mouth healthy or even help whiten your teeth at the same time.” 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does toothpaste expire, and can you use expired toothpaste?

    Toothpaste does come with an expiration date stamped on the end of the tube. It’s usually two years out from the date of purchase and plenty of time to brush through every ounce before the date rolls around. Expired toothpaste may harden over time, making it harder to use effectively.

  • How much toothpaste should you use when brushing?

    The recommended amount of toothpaste to use when brushing varies by age. The ADA recommends that children use a smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) from the time the first tooth erupts until they're three years old. From three years on up through adulthood, they can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. These small amounts help limit children’s exposure to ingested fluoride, to keep it to safe levels.
    As tempting as it may be to squeeze on a large swirl of toothpaste like on the commercials, adults don’t actually need any more. “For adults, you want to use about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste,” Dr. Kennedy says. “Remember, it is not about how much toothpaste that you’re putting in there because you’re going to spit all the extra out. It is about allowing it to stay on after you have brushed your teeth so that all the active ingredients have time to do the good work that they are designed to do inside your mouth.”

  • How does the ADA choose which products make the seal of acceptance?

    The ADA has a set of requirements that toothpastes must meet to earn the seal of acceptance. The ADA uses the requirements listed in the ANSI/ADA Standard No. 130 for Dentifrices - Requirements, Test Methods and Marking analyze each product, and uses additional lab studies to determine whether or not a toothpaste is fit for the seal. While the process of getting a toothpaste accepted is extensive, one general requirement of all products on the seal of acceptance list is that they must all contain fluoride.

Why Trust Verywell Health

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

Additional reporting to this story by Jennifer Nied

As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nied understands how vital quality product recommendations are for treating symptoms safely and effectively at home. For over 10 years, she has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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