The 7 Best Whitening Toothpastes of 2021

Let those pearly whites shine

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Our Top Picks
Safe for enamel, it is less irritating to sensitive mouths and can help in strengthening teeth and protecting against cavities.
Free from any peroxide ingredients, it remains an option for those with already-sensitive teeth.
One of the only whitening toothpastes available that protects the seal between your teeth and gums.
Uses a calcium mineral blend to whiten your teeth, and has ingredients like coconut oil, tea tree oil, and farm-grown mint.
Formulated with glycine, an amino acid that helps grow and strengthen connective tissue, to promote gum healing.
The stannous fluoride will keep your teeth free of cavities while the zinc controls plaque and reduces bad breath.
It works hard for your whole mouth, providing multiple benefits in a single toothpaste tube.

Aging, genetics, and bad habits can have both invisible and visible effects on your oral health, increasing your risk of developing cavities, gingivitis, and less-than-pearly-white teeth. 

If you can’t afford the cost of professional whitening through your dentist and don’t want to mess with OTC kits, a daily whitening toothpaste might seem like an acceptable substitute. But you should know they don’t help in all situations and rely on you using them correctly. It’s also important to temper your whitening expectations.

“Most take-home whitening procedures involve 15 to 30 minutes of using a whitening solution [but] when you use whitening toothpastes, you are applying this solution for two minutes at most,” says Casey Lau, DDS, co-founder and chief dental officer of soon-to-launch sustainable oral company ELIMS

That doesn’t mean that a whitening toothpaste won’t do the trick for your surface-level stains, but you’re not going to see the same dramatically brighter results you would with a more in-depth treatment, says Dr. Lau. Instead, you can expect a whitening toothpaste to help if you already have white teeth and want to maintain that appearance, or if you want to counteract your coffee or red wine habit with a good scrubbing.

Here are the best whitening toothpastes on the market today.

Best Overall: Crest 3D White Toothpaste Radiant Mint

Crest 3D White Radiant Mint
Pros
  • Strengthens teeth while whitening

  • Safe on enamel

  • Removes up to 80 percent of surface stains

Cons
  • Some users dislike toothpaste color and consistency

  • Package design needs improvement

If you have surface stains on your teeth but an otherwise-healthy mouth, you can feel comfortable using a vibrant whitening toothpaste like Crest 3D White in Radiant Mint. Not only will your mouth feel fresh after using it, you might see up to 80 percent of your surface stains fade over time—and using the toothpaste regularly can even prevent future stains from developing on your teeth.

But that’s actually not why we chose this toothpaste as our best overall pick; sure, that much whitening power is great, but there are a few other benefits built into Crest 3D White that make it our top choice. It’s safe for your enamel, making it less irritating to sensitive mouths, strengthens your teeth, and protects against cavities. Basically, it gives you whiter teeth plus a healthier mouth, and we can’t find anything wrong with that!

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.243% | Uses: Whitening

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Toothpaste for Sensitivity
Pros
  • Tartar and cavity protection

  • Pain relief for sensitive teeth

Cons
  • More expensive than some other brands

  • Minimal or slow whitening effects

If you’ve ever felt the zaps and zings around your teeth and gums that are ubiquitous with sensitive teeth, you’ve probably switched over to Sensodyne toothpaste: the brand is known for making products that build a protective layer around your touchy nerves so you can eat and drink without cringing in pain. 

This is especially useful when you’re trying to whiten your teeth with toothpaste, since the whitening process can cause sensitivity even in people who have no prior sensitivity issues. 

“Typically, I don’t recommend whitening toothpaste for patients with sensitive teeth, especially if it contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide,” says Dr. Todd Bertman, the owner of Advanced Dental Arts in New York City. 

Thankfully, Sensodyne White doesn’t contain any peroxide ingredients, so it remains an option for people with already-sensitive teeth. It removes surface stains, protects against cavities and tartar buildup, and decreases sensitivity all at the same time, making it a standout choice for a whitening toothpaste that won’t irritate your mouth.

Active Ingredients: Potassium nitrate 5% and Sodium fluoride 0.15% | Uses: Whitening and protection against sensitivity

Best for Gingivitis: Parodontax Toothpaste for Bleeding Gums and Gingivitis

Parodontax Whitening Toothpaste for Bleeding Gums, Teeth Whitening and Gingivitis Treatment
Pros
  • Anticavity and antiplaque

  • Formulated to treat bleeding gums from gingivitis

  • Gentle but effective

Cons
  • More expensive than some other brands

  • Some users don’t like flavor

If you think it’s no big deal that your gums bleed when you floss or brush your teeth, think again—this is called gingivitis, and it’s an early sign of gum disease, or periodontitis, a serious oral condition that can lead to eventual tooth loss. 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can reverse signs of gingivitis, improve your oral health, and whiten your teeth with Paradontax, one of the only whitening toothpastes available that protects the seal between your teeth and gums, preventing the bleeding that’s so often a symptom of gingivitis. Paradontax uses stannous fluoride, a special antibacterial kind of fluoride, to not only fight cavities but kill the bacteria that causes plaque, gingivitis, and sensitivity.

It does all of this while gently whitening teeth, ultimately revealing a much brighter, healthier smile overall.

Active Ingredients: Stannous fluoride 0.454% | Uses: Whitening and gingivitis treatment

Best Natural: hello Naturally Whitening Toothpaste

Hello Naturally Whitening Farm Grown Mint Fluoride Toothpaste
Pros
  • Cavity prevention

  • Vegan and cruelty-free

  • Free of sulfates, dyes, peroxides, gluten, and other artificial ingredients

Cons
  • Some users don’t like flavor

  • No specific anti-tartar ingredients

One way that many whitening toothpastes actually whiten is by scrubbing your teeth with harsh abrasives. However, this can cause other problems, says Misty Mattingly, RDH, BSDH, vice president of hygiene operations at Sage Dental.

“You should avoid pastes with abrasive ingredients, such as baking soda; it’s a common misconception that baking soda is good for teeth whitening, when in reality it can abrade your enamel,” she explains.

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to the harsh ingredients in many whitening toothpastes, the Naturally Whitening option from hello might be just what the dentist ordered. It uses a calcium mineral blend to whiten your teeth, and includes ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera, tea tree oil, and farm-grown mint to freshen your breath and prevent cavities. 

Even better than the ingredients hello toothpaste uses are the ones it doesn’t: the brand doesn’t contain any sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), artificial sweeteners, dyes, or parabens, and is vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free.

Active Ingredients: Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76% | Uses: Whitening

Best for Gum Disease: Crest Pro-Health Gum Restore Toothpaste, Whitening

Crest Pro-Health Gum Restore Toothpaste, Whitening
Pros
  • Antigingivitis protection

  • Amino acids promote gum healing

Cons
  • Minimal or slow whitening effects

  • Some users dislike toothpaste consistency

If you’ve moved past gingivitis into full-on gum disease, you need to be very careful about the products you use for oral care. This is especially true if you’re hoping to whiten your teeth, which can be a harsh process for even the healthiest of mouths. 

For gentle whitening with gum disease, we like the whitening version of Crest Pro-Health Gum Restore Toothpaste, which whitens and cleans your teeth with antimicrobial stannous fluoride while also maintaining and improving your gum health. It’s also formulated with glycine, an amino acid that helps grow and strengthen connective tissue, to promote gum healing and speed up the process of getting back to healthier, happier gums.

Active Ingredients: Stannous Fluoride 0.454% | Uses: Whitening and improving gum health

Best for Braces: Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste with Stannous Fluoride and Zinc

Pros
  • Promotes whole mouth health

  • Removes and prevents stains

  • Bacteria-fighting fluoride

Cons
  • Doesn’t foam or lather well

  • Some users dislike color and consistency

Braces are a drag, but it’s even worse if you have yellow teeth and can’t have any whitening treatments done. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with those yellow teeth until your braces come off, though: using whitening toothpaste, says Dr. Bertman, is the best solution for removing surface stains when you have braces.

“Because whitening toothpaste doesn’t actually bleach your teeth, you can use these products to maintain the original shade of your teeth prior to having your braces put on, with the added bonus of the enamel strengthening properties these products offer,” he explains.

For this, we love Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste formulated with stannous fluoride and zinc. Your teeth need a little extra TLC when you have braces, and the antibacterial properties of the stannous fluoride will keep them free of cavities while the zinc controls plaque and reduces bad breath. All that bacteria- and tartar-prevention goes a long way toward helping your teeth stay pearly white (so you can reveal a super straight and bright smile when those braces finally come off).

Active Ingredients: Stannous fluoride 0.454% | Uses: Whitening and improving oral health

Best for Cavity Protection: Tom's of Maine Whole Care Natural Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Whole Care Natural Toothpaste
Pros
  • Fights cavities

  • Whitens with natural silicas

  • Promotes enamel remineralization

Cons
  • Some users complain of burning sensation with use

  • Not 100 percent “natural” because it contains sodium laureth sulfate (SLS)

What good are white teeth if they’re filled with cavities, right? We love that even though it’s a natural product, Tom’s of Maine Whole Care toothpaste doesn’t prioritize white teeth over healthy teeth—instead, it works hard for your whole mouth, providing multiple benefits in a single toothpaste tube.

It whitens, fights cavities, and strengthens enamel without any artificial preservatives, flavors, or dyes; natural silicas remove surface stains while fluoride kills cavity-causing bacteria. Still, even without the same ingredients as many other brands, Tom’s of Maine manages to come in four flavors (including cinnamon, for a spicy start to your morning!). If the best toothpaste is the one you’ll happily use every day, then Tom’s of Maine will give you a reason to look forward to your twice-daily brushing—and leave you with whiter, cleaner teeth in the process.

Active Ingredients: Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76% | Uses: Whitening and improving oral health

Final Verdict

For a whitening toothpaste that doesn’t damage your teeth, Crest 3D White Toothpaste Radiant Mint (view at Amazon) brightens but is also easy on your enamel. People with sensitive teeth should use caution with whitening toothpastes, but generally the extra whitening formulation of Sensodyne’s Toothpaste for Sensitivity (view at Amazon) is a more pain-free solution. If you’re extra worried about cavity prevention, Tom's of Maine Whole Care Natural Toothpaste (view at Amazon) whitens while fighting dental decay.

What to Look for in Whitening Toothpastes

How it Works

According to Dr. Bertman, whitening toothpastes rely on either an abrasive ingredient (like silica, sodium bicarbonate, or calcium carbonate) or a chemical one (like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) to remove stains on your teeth. For the most part, any whitening toothpaste that doesn’t include an abrasive or chemical ingredient designed to remove stains won’t be that effective in actually whitening your teeth.

Fluoride

Although some natural-product advocates warn that too much fluoride can stain or discolor your teeth, this is largely a problem for young children whose teeth are still emerging, not adults. The American Dental Association (ADA) maintains that topical fluoride—like that included in most toothpastes—is not only safe to use but can help prevent tooth decay and cavities. Since cavities can stain and discolor your teeth, keeping your teeth free of cavities is an easy way to keep them naturally whiter. 

Reasonable Claims

Be wary of any toothpaste that says it will whiten your teeth dramatically with just a handful of applications. “Consumers should understand that whitening toothpaste will not make your teeth many shades whiter instantly,” says Dr. Bertman. Instead, he adds, expect to see subtle results over time, assuming you have noticeable stains from coffee, soda, tea, and smoking. People with already white teeth, discoloration from oral disease or illness, or under-the-surface-level stains may not see a significant change—so don’t be fooled by product promises.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can whitening toothpaste damage enamel?

    Technically yes, says Dr. Lau, since many of these products whiten by scrubbing your teeth with abrasives or using peroxide to fade stains. These can wear away enamel and cause sensitivity, but typically only if you're using them inappropriately. 

    Moderation is key, and any sensitivity you experience shouldn’t do damage long-term if you’re following the directions. Dr. Bertman agrees, saying that only improper brushing or excessive use of whitening toothpaste poses a risk to your enamel (and, eventually, the sensitive tooth structure called dentin that lies underneath your enamel). 

    If your teeth are feeling sensitive even with correct use, you can swap out your whitening toothpaste for something gentler after a few weeks of use, or alternate a whitening toothpaste with something like Sensodyne. 

    “You should probably use these whitening toothpastes in conjunction with a sensitivity toothpaste, or just not use them as your sole dentifrice,” says Dr. Lau.

  • Can whitening toothpaste cause sore gums?

    Dr. Bertman says whitening toothpastes are abrasive enough to clean surface stains off your teeth, but unfortunately, this means they can also cause your gums to become sore over time—especially if you brush too aggressively.

    Even if your toothpaste doesn’t contain abrasives, the other ingredients can cause discomfort, says Dr. Bertman: “The peroxide present in some whitening toothpaste can cause a minor chemical burn on your gums, that may cause gums to become irritated and sore.”

  • Is it safe to use whitening toothpaste every day?

    It’s a catch-22, according to Dr. Lau. He says you need to use these toothpastes consecutively for multiple days, even weeks, in order to see any kind of results, but doing so can have side effects. While it’s not downright unsafe to use whitening toothpaste every day, Dr. Lau does warn again about the importance of moderation, especially since many of these products have abrasive ingredients that can affect your enamel and gums.

What the Experts Say

“OTC whitening toothpaste is great for anyone who wants to just maintain their smile, touch up for an event, or who can't afford the ‘in office whitening’ that you get from dental offices.” —Dr. Casey Lau, DDS, co-founder and chief dental officer of soon-to-launch sustainable oral company ELIMS

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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2 Sources
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.
  1. Tufts Now. The other fluoride: the benefits of stannous fluoride. Published March 20, 2013.

  2. American Dental Association. Fluoride: topical and systemic supplements. Updated May 1, 2019.