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 gum disease (gingivitis).

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.

A side effect of stannous fluoride is the possible staining of the teeth. In addition, some people exposed to stannous fluoride toothpaste experience the 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 brush with stannous fluoride.

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 won't work its best unless you brush at least twice a day and floss at least once day, as well as visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleaning.

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

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