Try shopping for toothpaste and you’ll get bombarded with hundreds of options. Some have fluoride, others boast they’re sulfate-free and many of them claim to be whitening. How do you know which one to pick? Well, we’ve narrowed it down to six, all vetted by fervent fans who have actually tried them (as well as dentists and dental hygienists).
Sensodyne Tartar Control + Whitening Toothpaste
Did you know toothpastes are graded on what’s called RDA or a relative dentin abrasivity scale? Anything under a score of 250 is considered to be safe for daily use by the ADA, but if you have sensitive teeth, professionals recommend a score of 100 or lower. Sensodyne’s whitening formula has a score of 100, and is made with hydrated silica designed to gently scrub away surface stains and potassium nitrate to relieve sensitivity.
Colgate Optic Advanced Whitening Toothpaste
Whitening toothpastes typically rely on two types of ingredients to brighten teeth: a physical substance (like baking soda or silica) that brushes away plaque and other things that stain the surface of your enamel, and chemicals (like hydrogen peroxide) that penetrate into the enamel and break up stains below the surface. This ADA-approved pick has both, as well as a strong minty taste—if you’re into that sort of thing.
Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Baking Soda Toothpaste
For a slightly milder experience—both in terms of flavor and brightening—this fan favorite uses baking soda and peroxide to tackle stains (and a patented technology that prevents new ones from setting on your teeth). As one Amazon reviewer explains, it gives you "a naturally white smile without looking fake" or "crazy blinding white." After all, there’s something to be said for subtlety.
Rembrandt Deeply White & Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste
From the makers of the first whitening toothpaste on the market, this classic formula remains a top choice within the dental community because it whitens without being too abrasive. With rapid-release peroxide to lighten stains and sodium fluoride to strengthen enamel, it’s a go-to for good reason. "My dental hygienist is amazed that I drink coffee and tea because my teeth are so white and I am 72 years old," exclaimed one loyal reviewer on Target's site. (Side note: Who else is impressed by Nana's web skills?)
Tom's Simply White Toothpaste
If you’re looking for a natural clean, there is no better paste than Tom’s. (And in fact, it’s the only natural whitening toothpaste to earn the ADA seal.) Hydrated silica buffs away this morning’s coffee, while a clean mint flavor takes care of coffee breath. Rest assured, there are no phthalates, parabens, artificial flavors or colors added to the formula.
Crest Pro-Health HD System
Prior to the 1950s, dental disease was one of the most prevalent health problems in the U.S. Thanks to Crest (and Dr. Joseph Muhler at Indiana University) we now have fluoride in toothpaste and a drastic decrease in tooth decay as a result. Why the history lesson? Because when the storied brand released its Pro-Health HD system, they called it its "biggest breakthrough in paste since fluoride," which is quite the claim. The two-step system uses a "purifying cleanser" to strip away plaque and a "perfecting gel" to polish and whiten teeth. It almost sounds too good to be true, but there are literally thousands of fanatic reviews on Amazon (and the sites of just about every major drugstore like Walgreens and CVS) singing its praises.