Crest vs. Colgate Toothpaste

Crest and Colgate are two of the leading brands of toothpaste in the United States. Both products want to be considered the most effective toothpaste on the market.

If you look at a tube of either brand, you'll see claims about all the major oral health categories, such as cavity prevention, teeth whitening, and breath freshening.

The two brands of toothpaste are alike in some ways but very different in others.

This article will go over everything you need to know about Crest and Colgate toothpaste. You can use this information to pick the brand that's right for you.

Woman holding a toothbrush
Peopleimages/Getty Images


Colgate makes several different kinds of toothpaste for adults and children. The active ingredients aren't always the same.

  • Colgate Total. This product's only active ingredient is stannous fluoride. The company advertises Colgate Total as a "multiple benefit" toothpaste for fighting cavities that can be used by those with and without sensitive teeth. Colgate Total was the first toothpaste approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat gingivitis.
  • Colgate MaxFresh contains sodium fluoride. Besides fighting cavities, this product is intended to prevent bad breath and whiten teeth.
  • Colgate Revitalizing White is made with activated charcoal to help remove stains and freshen breath. Its active ingredient is sodium monofluorophosphate.
  • Colgate Optic White is a whitening toothpaste containing sodium monofluorophosphate and a 1% concentration of hydrogen peroxide, an ingredient found in other teeth-whitening products.
  • Colgate Kids toothpaste is designed to prevent cavities in kids ages 2 and up. Its active ingredient is sodium fluoride.
  • Colgate Sensitive is intended to fight cavities in people with sensitive teeth. Its active ingredients are potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride.

Colgate used to be made with an antibacterial called triclosan. The company stopped using it amidst concerns that it could cause gut inflammation and endocrine disruption.


Crest also offers a large variety of toothpaste brands, including:

  • Crest Complete. This toothpaste is designed to fight cavities and comes in many different formulations that help whiten teeth, freshen breath, or "deep clean." The active ingredient is sodium fluoride.
  • Crest 3D White. These products contain "micro-cleansing" teeth whiteners that the company says can remove up to 100% of stains in just five days. It also contains the cavity-fighting active ingredient sodium fluoride. 
  • Crest Premium is marketed as a "deep cleaning" product that removes stains and fights tartar and cavities. The active ingredient is sodium fluoride.
  • Crest Pro-Health. This line includes a whitening brand with activated charcoal and a breath-freshening brand. Its active ingredient is stannous fluoride.
  • Crest Gum. This toothpaste comes in different formulas like "Gum and Breath Purify Deep Clean," "Gum Detoxify Gentle Whitening," and "Gum and Enamel Repair." Crest Gum contains stannous fluoride as an active ingredient.
  • Crest Kids. These toothpastes are designed to fight cavities in kids ages 2 and up. They come in various flavors and contain sodium fluoride as an active ingredient.

Studies have found that stannous fluoride might be better at fighting cavity-causing microbes than other kinds of fluoride.

Staining of Teeth

Sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient in most toothpaste, including Crest and Colgate.

The ingredient can cause some side effects. Sodium lauryl sulfate may:

  • Stain the teeth
  • Cause the thin surface layer of the gums to peel away (sloughing)

Gum sloughing can be strange to experience but it's not harmful. However, it might make your gums more sensitive to certain things, like spices in food.


Crest and Colgate are two of the most popular toothpaste brands you can buy. While they are alike in many ways, they do have some key differences. The main difference between the two products is the type of fluoride that they use.

A Word From Verywell

Toothpaste is a key tool in your oral care routine. Dentists recommend that you use toothpaste with fluoride in it. Crest and Colgate are two options that have fluoride in them—they just use different kinds.

Whichever brand of toothpaste you pick, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is triclosan banned in the United States?

    In 2016, the FDA banned the use of triclosan in over-the-counter soaps and cleansers such as antibacterial hand soaps, bar soaps, and body wash. The FDA rule doesn't apply to toothpaste, but toothpaste manufacturers have voluntarily stopped putting triclosan in their products.

  • What is stannous fluoride?

    Stannous fluoride is an antimicrobial agent. It is very good at controlling dental plaque and treating gingivitis. Crest Pro-Health products use stannous fluoride instead of sodium fluoride (the fluoride in most toothpaste brands, including Colgate).

5 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. Wang CF, Tian Y. Reproductive endocrine-disrupting effects of triclosan: Population exposure, present evidence and potential mechanisms. Environ Pollut. 2015;1;206:195-201. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2015.07.001

  2. Cheng X, Liu J, Li J, et al. Comparative effect of a stannous fluoride toothpaste and a sodium fluoride toothpaste on a multispecies biofilm. Arch Oral Biol. 2017;74:5-11. doi:10.1016/j.archoralbio.2016.10.030

  3. 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

  4. Food and Drug Administration. FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps

  5. 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.