The 7 Best Whitening Toothpastes of 2022

Crest 3D White Toothpaste is our top pick for removing stains from your teeth

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Whitening toothpaste is a simple way of getting even more out of the twice-daily habit of brushing your teeth. While you brush away plaque and debris and prevent cavities, with the addition of whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, you can also remove stains from things like drinking coffee, tea, red wine, or even smoking. “Most toothpastes, whether they're labeled whitening or not, have some kind of a mild abrasive in them to safely remove surface stains from the teeth,” says Edmond Hewlett, DDS, professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association (ADA).

Reviewed & Approved

Featuring fluoride for cavity protection and silica for whitening, Crest 3D White Toothpaste is our top choice for whitening toothpaste. If you prefer a vegan formula free of dyes, sulfates, and preservatives, we recommend Tom’s of Maine Natural Simply White Fluoride Toothpaste

When shopping for whitening toothpaste, it is important to look at the ingredients included in the product. Sodium fluoride is a key ingredient in any toothpaste because it helps prevent cavities and strengthen teeth. Key whitening ingredients include hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, as well as more abrasive whitening agents such as silica, which works to rub stains off the surface of your teeth. And while you won't find a Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) score for your toothpaste on the label, this number gauges the toothpaste's potential erosive effects on your teeth. Because whitening toothpastes go beyond simply cleaning your teeth—they work to remove staining—they are often more abrasive than their non-whitening counterparts.

According to Steven Morgano, DMD, the chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, whitening toothpaste will work if you follow the instructions. But don’t expect whitening toothpaste to work miracles—he says toothpaste won’t whiten your teeth lighter than their natural shade; only bleaching (in a professional setting) can do that. To determine the best whitening toothpaste, we spoke to dentists and reviewed dozens of products from the leading oral care brands. We evaluated each toothpaste for its active ingredients, RDA scores, instructions for use, packaging, and price. 

Here are the best whitening toothpastes. 

Best Overall: Crest 3D White Toothpaste Radiant Mint

4.8
Crest 3D White Radiant Mint

Courtesy of Walgreens

Pros
  • Pleasant mint flavor

  • Features abrasive whiteners

Cons
  • Not ideal if you have weak enamel

What do buyers say? 86% of 51,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

Crest is one of the biggest names in the home teeth whitening space, and their 3D White toothpaste is our best overall. The brand’s 3D White Toothpaste is an all-star when it comes to whitening. The toothpaste includes sodium fluoride, which works to prevent cavities while strengthening the enamel of the teeth.

Besides strengthening the teeth, this toothpaste uses hydrated silica, a safe, abrasive ingredient, to remove surface stains from your teeth. Consistently using this whitening toothpaste should help keep the teeth free of these stains—which can form from lifestyle choices like drinking coffee or smoking—and leave behind white teeth. With an RDA of 205, this Crest toothpaste falls on the higher end of the RDA scale while still being rated safe for daily use.

Since silica is an abrasive whitening agent, it may cause or exacerbate sensitivity for those with weakened enamel. If you experience sensitivity due to weak enamel, you should use this less often or look for a whitening toothpaste with a lower RDA score.

Key Ingredients: Sodium fluoride, hydrated silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount, up to twice daily | RDA: 205

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Toothpaste for Sensitivity

Amazon

Pros
  • Helps relieve sensitivity

  • Sulfate-free

Cons
  • Whitening may be slower than other brands

One downside about using whitening toothpaste and treatments is that it can sometimes cause increased sensitivity to the teeth. This sensitivity can make it uncomfortable to eat or drink food because of the discomfort it causes in the mouth. Thanks to the potassium nitrate in its formula, Sensodyne’s toothpaste works to address tooth sensitivity, while the silica works as a gentle abrasive to whiten your teeth. 

Sensodyne’s formula is also fortified with fluoride to help prevent cavities and strengthen enamel. We like that it doesn’t feature sulfates, though this means it won’t foam up the way other toothpastes do. While it falls within the "highly abrasive" section of the RDA scale with a score of 104, this Sensodyne toothpaste isn't as harsh on your enamel as others on this list, which is why we recommend it as best for sensitive teeth.

Key Ingredients: Potassium nitrate, sodium fluoride, hydrated silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount up to twice per day | RDA: 104

Best Gentle: ARM & HAMMER Advance White Baking Soda & Peroxide Toothpaste

Arm&Hammer Advance White

Amazon

Pros
  • Features abrasive and chemical whiteners

Cons
  • Due to baking soda, flavor may taste salty

This toothpaste capitalizes on a kitchen staple ingredient that works well as an abrasive agent at removing stubborn stains from the teeth: baking soda. This ingredient, combined with the chemical whitening agent carbonate peroxide, works to remove stains from the surface of the teeth and brighten the smile after use. It also packs a second abrasive whitener: silica. Additionally, the toothpaste is formulated with sodium fluoride, which works well to strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities. Despite having both abrasive and chemical whitening ingredients on the label, this Arm & Hammer toothpaste has an RDA score of 106, making it one of the gentlest whitening toothpastes on our list.

Chemical ingredients have one leg up on abrasive ingredients: They can continue to work after you finish brushing—as long as you don’t rinse your mouth out after. These are some of the same key ingredients you’ll find in at-home teeth whitening kits that have you apply a gel or solution to your teeth and let it sit for a while. This is a similar idea, but in smaller doses for shorter bursts. This toothpaste from Arm & Hammer packs something of a one-two punch against stains since it features both chemical and abrasive whiteners. 

However, a downside of this toothpaste for some may be its unusual flavor. Instead of tasting like mint, like other toothpaste on the market, the toothpaste has a more chemical and salty taste. While the whitening benefits are worth it, some might find it tough to overcome the flavor.

Key Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.24%, baking soda, peroxide, silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount, up to twice daily | RDA: 106

Best Colgate: Colgate Optic White Advanced Teeth Whitening Toothpaste with Fluoride

Colgate Optic White Advanced Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • Features both chemical and abrasive whiteners

Cons
  • Low RDA score is gentler on enamel but may not work as quickly as others

What makes Colgate Optic White Advanced Teeth Whitening Toothpaste one we recommend is that it combines both chemical and abrasive whitening agents. It features a formula of 2% hydrogen peroxide (and is one of the few toothpastes disclosing how much bleaching ingredient it uses) and hydrated silica. Fluoride is another active ingredient included in the product to help protect the teeth from cavities. And with an RDA of 100, it will be gentler on your teeth than others on this list; however, it may not work as quickly to whiten your teeth.

Key Ingredients: Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76%, hydrogen peroxide, silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount up to two times per day | RDA: 100

Best Flavor: Crest Scope Complete Whitening Toothpaste

Scope Complete Whitening Toothpaste Minty Fresh

Walmart

Pros
  • Strong flavor similar to mouthwash

Cons
  • Screw-on cap can be finicky

Not only do you want your toothpaste to work as it should (and help noticeably whiten your teeth), but you want it to also taste good when brushing twice a day. The Crest + Scope Complete Whitening Toothpaste gives users the experience of brushing their teeth while using mouthwash by incorporating a blast of mint reminiscent of Scope’s mouthwash. Besides leaving your breath fresh, the product features hydrated silica to remove stains and has the key ingredient sodium fluoride to prevent cavities and strengthen enamel.

However, we couldn't find an RDA score for this toothpaste, so until we test whitening toothpastes, we can't confirm how abrasive or effective they may be.

Key Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.24%, hydrated silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount up to two times per day | RDA: Not available

Best Natural: hello Naturally Whitening Toothpaste

Hello Naturally Whitening Farm Grown Mint Fluoride Toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • Free of sulfates, dyes, and preservatives

  • Vegan

Cons
  • Strong peppermint flavor

The Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste is an innovative alternative to whitening teeth if avoiding certain ingredients is important to you. The formula, which is peroxide-free and cruelty-free, and vegan, is packed with silica to whiten the teeth. Instead of relying on chemical whiteners, it instead features a more natural, abrasive whitening agent. 

This toothpaste from Hello features fluoride to prevent cavities and strengthen enamel. It also incorporates tea tree oil and peppermint to address bad breath and coconut oil to provide moisture for the mouth and gums. Based on the information available, we like this whitening toothpaste. However, we couldn't find an RDA score for this toothpaste, so until we test whitening toothpastes, we can't confirm how abrasive or effective they may be.

Key Ingredients: sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76%, hydrated silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount up to twice per day | RDA: Not available

Best Peroxide-Free: Tom's of Maine Whole Care® Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Whole Care Toothpaste

Walmart

Pros
  • Vegan formula is free of parabens and dyes

  • Recyclable tube

Cons
  • More expensive than other brands

Tom’s of Maine Natural Simply White Fluoride Toothpaste is a peroxide-free formula that is also paraben-free and cruelty-free. Instead of bleaching whiteners like hydrogen peroxide, it relies solely on silica to remove tough stains on the surface of the teeth. It also includes fluoride to help prevent cavities and strengthen enamel. However, we couldn't find an RDA score for this toothpaste, so until we test whitening toothpastes, we can't confirm how abrasive or effective they may be.

This toothpaste from Tom's of Maine is more expensive than other whitening toothpastes on our list and has a screw top that might be difficult to open and close for those who have dexterity issues.

Key Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.24%, silica | Dosage: Pea-sized amount up to two times per day | RDA: Not available

Final Verdict

If you are looking for an all-around toothpaste that will strengthen the teeth while removing stubborn stains from the surface, then we recommend the Crest 3D White Toothpaste. It should not only whiten the teeth but also improve your oral hygiene. If you find that stubborn stains remain and are looking for more intensive treatment, then we recommend the Colgate Optic White Advanced Teeth Whitening Toothpaste.

How We Selected

When determining the best whitening toothpastes, we spoke with dentists and spent hours reviewing dozens of toothpastes from the top oral care brands. We evaluated them based on their key ingredients, packaging, price, and RDA scores.

Since the key whitening ingredients aren't listed on labels with context beyond simply stating that the ingredient is present in the toothpaste, we used RDA scores to help determine how effective the whitening property of each toothpaste could be. RDAs below 100 aren't as effective at removing stains, and RDAs above 250 don't provide much additional stain removal (plus, they haven't been deemed safe for regular use at that measurement anymore, either).

What to Look For in Whitening Toothpastes

Key Ingredients:

One of the most important characteristics to look for when shopping for whitening toothpaste is the types of ingredients that are included in the formula.

  • Chemical whiteners: Hydrogen peroxide is a common chemical whitening (or bleaching) agent often found in whitening kits and whitening toothpaste because of its ability to remove stains. “Peroxides, when used the way they're designed to be used, can whiten teeth,” Dr. Hewlett says. He warns, though, that for best results, this ingredient needs to remain on the teeth for longer periods to remove stains. So if you are finding that a peroxide-based toothpaste is not giving you the results that you want, then you might want to consider a whitening kit or professional whitening treatment. 
  • Abrasive whiteners: Silica is an abrasive whitening agent that also works to remove stains on the surface of the teeth. “Generally, the abrasives are silica or chalk, which are harmless to enamel,” Dr. Morgano says. 
  • Fluoride: When selecting any toothpaste—whitening or not—fluoride is an important ingredient. “Toothpaste should also contain fluoride, which doesn’t whiten the teeth but fights cavities,” Dr. Morgano says. 

Ingredient to Avoid:

  • One ingredient to avoid is charcoal because of the harm it can cause to the teeth. “Charcoal can be used as an abrasive, but it should be avoided [because it is] too abrasive,” Dr. Morgano says.

Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA)

Every toothpaste available online or at your local drugstore has abrasives; those ingredients are necessary for effectively cleaning your teeth. Abrasives also work to remove stains from teeth, and whitening toothpastes often feature more of them or feature them in greater quantities.

An RDA score reflects how erosive a toothpaste can be. Lower RDA scores reflect gentler toothpastes, while higher RDA scores reflect higher levels of abrasive ingredients. This is why whitening toothpastes may cause or increase sensitivity for some—highly abrasive toothpastes can erode your enamel and even expose the dentin (middle layer) of your tooth.

If you've never heard of RDA before this, that's because toothpaste manufacturers don't have to disclose this measurement on their labels. However, they must report it to the FDA for approval. RDAs below 250 are safe for regular use. Here is the RDA scale and what the numbers mean:

  • 0-70: Low abrasion
  • 70-100: Midrange abrasion
  • 100-150: Highly abrasive
  • 150-250: Considered harmful to teeth

A number of factors can impact tooth wear, which makes RDAs an imperfect gauge for determining the best toothpaste (this is why RDA was not the sole criterion for our recommendations). Other factors such as your diet, whether you grind your teeth, whether you brush too hard or too softly, GI conditions, and more can have an impact on how your teeth respond to abrasive ingredients.

The Limitations of Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste can only accomplish so much when it comes to removing stains from the teeth. “Whitening toothpaste removes superficial staining on the teeth (such as from coffee or red wine) by using an abrasive in the toothpaste,” Dr. Morgano says. “These toothpastes do not make the teeth lighter than their natural shade.” Using whitening kits or professional treatments from a dentist improves the results. “Bleaching can make teeth lighter than their natural shade,” Dr. Morgano says. “There are OTC bleaching kits found at the pharmacy that can be used, and there are professional bleaching kits that can be obtained from a dentist.” 

Dr. Hewlett adds that using whitening toothpaste in conjunction with other treatments could help extend the whitening results: “In general, the longevity of the treatments are enhanced by good oral hygiene: brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you need to use whitening toothpaste to start seeing results?

    For those who want to see instant results, whitening toothpaste might not be for you because these products tend to take more time to work. “If the patient brushes twice per day for two minutes each time, it will take two to six weeks to show an effect,” Dr. Morgano says. “The most common mistake people make is that they don’t brush long enough.” If you find you are not brushing for long enough, then Dr. Morgano recommends investing in an electric toothbrush. These devices often include a self-timer to inform the user when the two minutes for brushing are up.

  • Can whitening toothpaste damage enamel?

    “No, the products that you typically find over the counter that are branded as whitening toothpaste are safe,” Dr. Hewlett says. “If you have any questions, your dentist is always your best source of advice and direction about that.”

  • Does whitening toothpaste work on crowns/veneers?

    Whitening toothpaste works by removing the stains that sit on the surface of the teeth, so it should also work for anyone with crowns or veneers. “These toothpastes remove superficial staining, so they work on ceramic crowns and veneers,” Dr. Morgano says. “Bleaching gels do not work on ceramic crowns and veneers.”

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.

1 Source
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  1. Protected by a safe RDA: Setting the record straight about toothpaste abrasivity. Registered Dental Hygienists. Published December 13, 2016.