Colgate vs. Crest Toothpaste

How to Know Which Is Best for You

woman brushing her teeth in the morning

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Crest and Colgate are two of the leading brands of toothpaste in the United States. Both make claims about their effectiveness in all the major oral health categories from cavity prevention to teeth whitening to breath freshening.

The two brands have similarities and differences. For example, Crest touts its stannous fluoride over the sodium fluoride in other toothpaste brands. Colgate, meanwhile, has a lock on triclosan, an antibacterial agent for treating gingivitis.

Knowing how they stack up against each other can help you choose the brand that's right for you.


Colgate Total was the first toothpaste to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating gingivitis (gum disease).

The active ingredient in Colgate is an antibacterial called triclosan. It's paired with a copolymer that helps the ingredient's effects remain active in the mouth for up to 12 hours.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that helps to "slow or stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew." In 1997, the FDA found that the triclosan in Colgate Total was effective in preventing gingivitis.

You may have read about safety concerns regarding triclosan in products such as soap and body wash.

Some animal studies have found a link between triclosan and low levels of certain thyroid hormones; other studies suggest triclosan plays a role in antibiotic resistance.

Despite concerns, there is no evidence that triclosan in toothpaste poses any risk to users. Even so, because it's a non-essential ingredient, some manufacturers have removed it from their products.


Crest Pro-Health uses stannous fluoride instead of the sodium fluoride used by most other toothpaste, including Colgate. Stannous fluoride relies on the element tin to bind the fluoride. Studies have found that it may be better for preventing erosion.

Staining of Teeth

Sodium lauryl-sulphate is an ingredient in most toothpaste, including Crest and Colgate. A side effect of this component is the possible staining of the teeth. In addition, some people exposed to sodium lauryl-sulphate experience sloughing of the gums (where the thin surface layer peels away).

Sloughing isn't harmful, but it can be alarming—and it can cause gums to be sensitive to spices. So, if you love your jalapenos, you may not want to find a toothpaste that doesn't contain this ingredient.

A Word From Verywell

Most dentists still recommend that the chief ingredient consumers should look for in their toothpaste is fluoride, which both Crest and Colgate toothpaste contain (albeit in different forms). Fluoride is the only ingredient that has been shown to restore a tooth's enamel, provided it hasn't yet decayed.

Toothpaste is an important part of your oral care routine. Whatever brand you choose, it's important that you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, as well as visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

In the end, despite the differences, pick the paste you're most comfortable with and then use it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which toothpaste has triclosan in it?

    Toothpaste products from Colgate use triclosan as their active ingredient. It is considered effective in gingivitis prevention. Studies have attempted to determine if triclosan has negative effects on human health, but there has not been evidence to show any harm caused by the small amount of triclosan in Colgate toothpaste.

  • What is stannous fluoride?

    Stannous fluoride is an antimicrobial agent that is considered effective in controlling dental plaque and treating gingivitis. It is used in Crest Pro-Health products instead of sodium fluoride, which can be found in many other types of toothpaste.

3 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. Food and Drug Administration. Five things to know about Triclosan.

  2. Pérez-López D, Varela-Centelles P, García-Pola MJ, Castelo-Baz P, García-Caballero L, Seoane-Romero JM. Oral mucosal peeling related to dentifrices and mouthwashes: A systematic review. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2019 Jul 1;24(4):e452-e460. doi:10.4317/medoral.22939

  3. Parkinson CR, Milleman KR, Milleman JL. Gingivitis efficacy of a 0.454% w/w stannous fluoride dentifrice: a 24-week randomized controlled trialBMC Oral Health. 2020;20(1):89. doi:10.1186/s12903-020-01079-6

Additional Reading

By Joshua Austin, DDS
Joshua Austin, DDS, is a general dentist in San Antonio, Texas. His practice focuses on general, family and cosmetic dentistry.