13 Whitening Toothpastes That Actually Work

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The 12 Best Whitening Toothpastes of 2022

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Teeth whitening has always been a popular sub-section of beauty, but at-home options, like whitening toothpastes, are a newer innovation. Luckily for us, DIY whitening has come leaps and bounds in recent years, and it’s now possible to see great results from something as simple as brushing your teeth.

According to dental hygienist and GSK expert, Monica Biga, whitening toothpastes work by either removing surface stains mechanically or whitening the teeth from the inside out via bleaching agents—peroxide is probably the most popular one used. And while bleaching agents are generally much harder on the teeth, the right formula really comes down to your oral health, personal preference, and desired results.

So, to cover all bases, we’ve curated the best options from both camps, so you can get on your way to a brighter, whiter smile in minutes (sometimes, literally). 

Meet the Expert

Monica Biga is an oral care expert, dental hygienist, and spokesperson who works for GSK. She also has a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) in Dental Hygiene/Hygienist from St. Petersburg College in Florida.

Keep scrolling to shop for the best whitening toothpastes.

Best Overall: Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste

Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Contains fluoride

  • Claims to defend against stains for 12 hours

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Crest is one of the top-rated whitening brands on the internet, and the 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is arguably its most advanced formula. With claims to remove surface stains in five days plus 12-hour stain protection, it’s a top pick for those who love coffee, red wine, or black tea. It’s also rich in fluoride to protect against cavities.

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride | Size: 3.9 fluid ounces

Best Budget: Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

Arm & Hammer Advance White Extreme Whitening Baking Soda and Peroxide Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Contains baking soda and peroxide

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it tastes a little salty

Boosted with both peroxide and baking soda, this toothpaste promises to lift stains, brighten the teeth, and help you maintain a brighter smile. It contains fluoride for protection against cavities, has a strong minty flavor, and at $6 for a duo pack, it won’t burn a hole in your wallet.

Active Ingredients: Peroxide | Size: 6 fluid ounces

Best for Sensitive Teeth: Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Toothpaste for Sensitivity
What We Like
  • Safe for sensitive teeth

  • Bleach-free

What We Don't Like
  • Slower results than bleach options

According to Biga, this formula is an excellent choice for sensitive teeth as it doesn’t contain peroxide. This is a bleaching agent that “opens the pores of the enamel and changes the color of the tooth from the inside, making it appear whiter." Instead, Sensodyne’s version contains silica, which is known to remove surface stains, particularly those that come from tea, coffee, and wine. Use it twice daily to maintain a brighter smile.

Active Ingredients: Stannous fluoride | Size: 3.4 fluid ounces

Runner-Up, Best for Sensitive Teeth: Twice Classic Duo

Twice Classic Duo
What We Like
  • Clean, gentle ingredients

  • Protects against sensitivity

  • Infused with vitamins

  • pH balanced

What We Don't Like
  • Only sold in two-packs

Twice, the Lenny Kravitz co-founded oral care brand launched back in 2018, is all about safe and effective whitening while caring for your pearly whites. Infused with a blend of aloe and vitamins A, C, and E, the formula also protects against sensitivity, prevents cavities, and helps remineralize tooth enamel. It’s also pH balanced to keep your whole mouth happy.

This bundle includes two of the brand’s best flavors: an invigorating wintergreen and peppermint blend and a calming (and pretty interesting) combination of vanilla, lavender, and mint.

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride, hydrated silica | Size: 3.4 fluid ounces

Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees Purely White Zen Peppermint Toothpaste

Burt's Bees Purely White Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Fluoride-, sulfate-, and paraben-free

  • Nice flavor

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

For fluoride-free whitening, this Burt’s Bees option is a great pick. It contains silica to remove surface stains and stevia for a subtle flavor. We’re big fans of the zingy peppermint flavor, too.

Active Ingredients: Silica | Size: 4.7 fluid ounces

Best Peroxide-Free Formula: HiSmile PAP+ Toothpaste

HiSmile PAP+ Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Peroxide-free

  • Strengthens and protects teeth

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly runny consistency

PAP, or Phthalimido Peroxy Caproic Acid, is a proven whitening agent that is said to visibly whiten the teeth on application. HiSmile is one of the first brands to use it, mostly because it’s extremely expensive and difficult to work with (according to its co-founder, Nik Mirkovic). Said to whiten without affecting the enamel, it’s a stellar choice for sensitive teeth or gums—or anyone who prefers to forgo peroxide.

Active Ingredients: Phthalimido Peroxy Caproic Acid (PAP) | Size: 1.4 fluid ounces

Best for Healthy Teeth: Sensodyne Sensodyne Repair and Protect Deep Repair Whitening Toothpaste

Sensodyne Repair and Protect Deep Repair Whitening
What We Like
  • Safe for sensitive teeth

  • Contains fluoride

What We Don't Like
  • Slower results than bleach options

Biga likes this pick because it’s “low abrasive, packed with fluoride for healthy teeth and gums, and works to relieve sensitivity when used daily." It’s also peroxide-free, so there’s no risk of increasing nerve pain in already-vulnerable teeth.

Active Ingredients: Stannous fluoride | Size: 3.4 fluid ounces

Best for a Fresh Mouth: Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste with Stannous Fluoride and Zinc

Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste with Stannous Fluoride and Zinc
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Nice flavor

What We Don't Like
  • Only removes surface stains

This zingy, minty gel contains stannous fluoride, zinc and silica to help whiten the teeth and protect against cavities without sensitizing the teeth. Since it's also said to help neutralize odors in the mouth, it could be a great pick for those constantly battling with morning breath (or to mask that third coffee).

Active Ingredients: Stannous fluoride, zinc | Size: 4.8 fluid ounces

Best Vegan Option: hello Naturally Whitening Toothpaste

Hello Naturally Whitening Farm Grown Mint Fluoride Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Contains fluoride

What We Don't Like
  • Only removes surface stains

This innovative formula is packed with coconut oil, calcium, silica, fluoride, and tea tree oil to give you that fresher-than-fresh mouth feel—all while serving up subtle whitening benefits. It’s also reasonably priced, so you can stock up without hesitation.

Active Ingredients: Fluoride, silica, calcium | Size: 4.7 fluid ounces

Best Toothpaste Bit: Bite Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits

Bite Toothpaste Bits - Fresh Mint
What We Like
  • Waste-free

  • Great for travel

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Prefer a waste-free whitening option you can chomp down on? Bite’s Toothpaste Bits are an effective way to brush your teeth with the added bonus of way less water used in production. The hero ingredient, nano-hydroxyapatite, is thought to remineralize tooth enamel, while calcium carbonate acts as an abrasive to gently buff away surface stains. There’s menthol for freshness, too.

Active Ingredients: Nano-Hydroxyapatite, calcium carbonate | Size: 248 bits per jar

Best Tasting: Supersmile Professional Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Supersmile Professional Teeth Whitening Toothpaste
What We Like
  • Contains fluoride

  • Dentist-developed

What We Don't Like
  • May cause some sensitivity

Developed by famed American dentist Dr. Irwin Smigel, this toothpaste uses encapsulated carbamide peroxide to whiten teeth, dentures, implants, and veneers. It has a strong minty flavor and contains fluoride, calcium, and phosphates to promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.

Active Ingredients: Carbamide peroxide | Size: 4.2 fluid ounces

Best Charcoal Formula: Dirt Don't Hurt Tooth Powder with Activated Charcoal

Dirt Don't Hurt Tooth Powder with Activated Charcoal
What We Like
  • Clean powder formula

  • Helps remineralize teeth as it whitens

  • Contains herbs and essential oils for flavor

What We Don't like
  • Can be messy to use

Charcoal is known for its ultra-absorbent properties and is thought to help with removing surface stains from the teeth. Admittedly, the science is still grey, but we can’t deny the way charcoal toothpaste makes our mouth feel super clean. This powder formula from Dirt Don’t Hurt Me is all-natural, formulated with activated coconut charcoal and a blend of natural earth clays, essential oils, and herbs. In addition to whitening, it can help remineralize teeth, detoxify your mouth, and balance pH levels to keep bad breath at bay.

Hear us out: This product is on the messier side, but the results are worth it. And while the price may sound steep for a toothpaste, each jar contains a six-month supply.

Active Ingredients: Activated coconut charcoal, bentonite clay, calcium carbonate, kaolin clay, baking soda | Size: 2 ounces

Best Clean Formula: Tom's of Maine Antiplaque Natural Whitening Toothpaste

Tom's of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening
What We Like
  • Bleach-free

  • ADA-approved

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it's not very refreshing

Cruelty-free, vegan, and formulated without artificial dyes, sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives, this toothpaste is a nice pick if you prefer a bleach- and fluoride-free option. It contains the mineral zinc citrate, plus xylitol, a natural sweetener, to assist with clean, bright teeth and healthy gums. If you’re into it, it even comes in fennel flavor.

Active Ingredients: Calcium carbonate, silica | Size: 5.5 fluid ounces

Final Verdict

Crest 3D White Brilliance Toothpaste is our top pick of the best whitening toothpaste, as it claims to remove stains in five days and comes with thousands of positive reviews online. However, if you’re sensitive, we can’t go past HiSmile PAP+ Toothpaste and Sensodyne Extra Whitening Toothpaste. Both are fluoride-free but work to remove surface stains, leaving you with a brighter smile instantly.

What to Look for in a Whitening Toothpaste

The Mechanism of Whitening Action

Dr. Matt Nejad, a Cosmetic and Biomimetic dentist, says that this is the single most important criteria to look for in whitening toothpaste. Most formulas rely on one of two options. Some use hydrogen peroxide or other chemical ingredients for chemical whitening or to essentially bleach the teeth. When used in toothpaste, this ingredient doesn't stay on teeth for a long enough period of time to make a big difference.

Others work via abrasive action, containing an ingredient (such as silica or calcium carbonate) that physically scrubs stains off the surface of the teeth. This is typically considered the more effective of the two in toothpaste, although whitening formulas like these should be used with caution to avoid damaging the tooth enamel.

  • Does whitening toothpaste work?

    It does, although expect only a slightly brighter, whiter smile over time. Whitening toothpaste tends to work by eliminating the stains on the surface of the tooth rather than actually changing the color of the tooth itself.

  • Is it safe to use whitening toothpaste every day?

    Most whitening toothpaste is safe for short-term daily use, but if the product has an overly abrasive formula it could accelerate wear of your enamel if you use it for years, says Dr. Nejad. If you plan on using a whitening toothpaste daily for an extended period of time, be sure to discuss this with your dentist, particularly if you already have damaged enamel or worn areas on your teeth from underlying conditions.

  • Does whitening toothpaste make your teeth more sensitive?

    While it is possible, it’s unlikely that a whitening toothpaste will make your teeth more sensitive, says Dr. Nejad.

Why Trust Byrdie

For this roundup, we leaned on the expertise of dental experts, plus several peer-reviewed journal articles. We also tested a few products (of course) and cross-checked them against customer reviews.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Medjedovic E, Medjedovic S, Deljo D, Sukalo A. Impact of fluoride on dental health quality. Mater Sociomed. 2015;27(6):395-398. doi:10.5455/msm.2015.27.395-398

  2. Medjedovic E, Medjedovic S, Deljo D, Sukalo A. Impact of fluoride on dental health quality. Mater Sociomed. 2015;27(6):395-398. doi:10.5455/msm.2015.27.395-398

  3. Cho MJ.  The Tooth Whitening Effect of Toothpaste Containing High Cleaning Silica and Sodium Hexametaphosphate and the Preventive Effect of Staining by Coffee, Tea and Wine.  IJCPD 2020;16:192-199.  https://doi.org/10.15236/ijcpd.2020.16.4.192

  4. Bizhang M, Domin J, Danesh G, Zimmer S. Effectiveness of a new non-hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent after single use - a double-blind placebo-controlled short-term study. J Appl Oral Sci. 2017;25(5):575-584. doi:10.1590/1678-7757-2016-0463

  5. Epple M, Meyer F, Enax J. A critical review of modern concepts for teeth whiteningDent J (Basel). 2019;7(3):79. doi:10.3390/dj7030079

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