Product Reviews
Updated on November 30, 2022

Best Whitening Toothpastes

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Do Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?

Whitening toothpastes can work by lightening teeth in one or two shades. However, they only work on external teeth stains. There isn’t a toothpaste on the market that can remove stains that occur beneath the enamel.

NewMouth does not recommend whitening toothpastes for people’s primary teeth whitening treatment. Aside from its limited teeth-whitening effects, we’ve considered other factors, including:

  • The formulation of ingredients
  • Side effects
  • Dentists’ recommendations

Whitening kits and in-office treatments provide better and longer-lasting results, while whitening toothpastes are more effective in maintaining the results from these treatments.

If you’re interested in the best at-home whitening kits, you can read NewMouth’s comprehensive teeth whitening kit review.

45205312 protection for your pearly whites cropped shot of a woman putting toothpaste on a toothbrush

Key Ingredients in Whitening Toothpaste

According to Dr. Khushbu Gopalakrishnan, one of New Mouth’s in-house dentists, “most whitening toothpastes work through abrasives and/or peroxides.”

The peroxide ingredient is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. They’re bleaching agents that chemically break down and remove stains.

Whitening toothpastes also contain abrasive ingredients, which mechanically remove stains. Silica derivatives are the most abrasives in the market. Some brands also incorporate charcoal or baking soda.

Are Peroxides in Toothpaste Effective?

The peroxide content in whitening toothpastes is negligible, limiting its teeth-whitening effects.6 So, it won’t matter significantly if toothpastes have this ingredient.

Dr. Khushbu also said that, aside from the low concentration of peroxides, the contact time between toothpaste and teeth is too short to be able to give drastic results.

Are All Whitening Toothpastes the Same?

Most kinds of toothpaste have the same primary components. Although, according to Dr. Khushbu, the specific concentration and agent may vary.

The base components include:10

  • Fluoride to help prevent cavities
  • Foaming agents that spread toothpaste throughout the mouth and act as a surfactant
  • Binders to prevent the separation of powder and liquid ingredients
  • Humectants to prevent toothpaste from hardening in the tube
  • Solvents to dissolve ingredients and allow them to be mixed (water is most common)
  • Flavoring agents that get rid of the unpleasant smell and taste of other raw materials and give a cold, refreshing taste
  • Coloring agents to give toothpaste an attractive appearance
  • Preservatives to prevent the growth of micro-organisms
  • Pharmaceutical agents to give the toothpaste additional uses (reduce bad breath, remove teeth stains and plaque, etc.)

Brands will often differ in their concentration and kinds of whitening agents. Some formulations can be too abrasive, causing unwanted side effects.

Side Effects of Whitening Toothpaste

Studies show that whitening toothpastes can cause gum irritation due to their peroxide content. It can also weaken your teeth’s enamel due to its abrasive ingredients.

Whitening toothpastes increase the teeth’s surface roughness and reduce microhardness.2,4,5,7 This results in mineral loss, also known as demineralization.

Demineralization is the early stage of tooth decay, and it occurs when the teeth’s enamel is worn away. It results in weakened and more sensitive teeth, making a person more prone to dental caries, discomfort, and pain.14

Can You Reverse the Side Effects of Whitening Toothpaste?

Remineralization can reverse demineralization to a certain extent. It’s a naturally occurring process in teeth and bone.

Remineralization happens with the help of a few factors, including:15

  • Saliva
  • Fluoride therapy
  • Reduced intake of carbonated, sugary drinks
  • Probiotic bacteria

Saliva is one of the essential biological tools against demineralization, neutralizing the effects of acid exposure. It also provides calcium and phosphate, which maintain the supersaturation of necessary tooth minerals.

Probiotic bacteria are naturally present in the body, but you can also get them from dairy products and supplements. A study suggests that they displace the bacteria that contribute to demineralization.15

How to Pick the Best Whitening Toothpaste

Choosing the best whitening toothpaste relies on following dentists’ recommendations and knowing a toothpaste’s relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) value.3

Dentists’ Recommendations

Some dentists, like Dr. Khushbu, prefer recommending the simplest and most affordable toothpaste from trusted brands such as Colgate and Crest, regardless of whether they claim to be teeth-whitening.

In some cases, dentists may recommend products based on specific needs. For example, if a patient is at a higher risk of developing cavities, Dr. Khushbu would recommend high-fluoride toothpaste.

However, there isn’t much difference between recommending a standard toothpaste or a whitening one when it comes to teeth whitening. According to Dr. Khushbu, the ingredients would likely be comparable.

Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) Value

An RDA value measures the erosive effect of toothpaste ingredients. The score ranges from 4 to 250.

Any reputable brand’s toothpaste with an RDA value of 4 to 70 is considered the best because it isn’t abrasive enough to cause side effects.

The chart includes all kinds of toothpaste from reputable brands, including whitening and non-whitening ones.

Toothpastes with an RDA value of 101 to 250 can harm tooth enamel. Those with an RDA value of 78 to 100 are moderately risky.

How to Prevent Side Effects from Whitening Toothpaste

You can prevent unwanted side effects from whitening toothpastes by doing the following:

  • Follow dentists’ recommendations
  • Know a toothpaste’s RDA value
  • Be more selective with the kind of toothbrush you use

A study found that, even when paired with highly abrasive toothpaste, manual toothbrushes are not as abrasive as electric toothbrushes.11 However, the specific RDA values of manual and electric toothbrushes have not yet been determined.

Theoretically, electric toothbrushes have a teeth-whitening effect because of their abrasiveness. It’s best to pair it with toothpastes having RDA values between 4 and 70.

Using highly abrasive toothpaste with an electric toothbrush can make your toothbrushing routine more harmful in the long run. Use a manual toothbrush or a less abrasive toothpaste instead.

8 Best Whitening Toothpaste

As numerous studies and our in-house dentist said, toothpaste’s whitening effects are limited. This is due to the negligible amount of peroxide in toothpaste and the product's limited contact time with the teeth.

In addition, some whitening toothpaste formulations can be too abrasive. Highly abrasive toothpaste can cause more harm than good in the long run.

As a result, NewMouth only recommends whitening toothpastes to maintain the results you can get from teeth whitening kits or in-office treatments. These kits and professional treatments are safer and more effective at lifting tooth stains. They also provide longer-lasting results.

Here are some of the toothpaste we recommend for maintenance:

Arm & Hammer Advance White Baking Soda & Peroxide Toothpaste

Best Overall
Arm Hammer Advance White Baking Soda Peroxide Toothpaste
RDA Value 42
Active Ingredients Baking soda, Sodium carbonate peroxide
Price $23 (pack of 6)

The Arm & Hammer Advance White toothpaste is one of the best to use for cleaning teeth, with an RDA value of 42. It can also maintain teeth-whitening treatment results without damaging your enamel.

The toothpaste is formulated with baking soda and peroxide, neutralizing acids that can weaken your teeth's enamel. The fluoride in toothpaste prevents cavities and tartar buildup.

IMG 6211 1

Arm & Hammer also formulates their toothpaste with their patented Stain Defense™ technology. This prevents new stains from setting onto your teeth.

Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste with Fluoride (Colgate Regular)

Best with Fluoride
Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste with Fluoride Colgate Regular
RDA Value 68
Active Ingredients Sodium monofluorophosphate
Price $9.95 (pack of 6)

Colgate’s Cavity Protection toothpaste is the best fluoride toothpaste with an RDA value of 68. Fluoride protects your teeth against cavities, and Colgate uses a gluten-free formula.

IMG 6199 1

This toothpaste is ADA-approved, meaning the product is guaranteed to be safe, reliable, and high-quality. It also uses mint flavoring to help the mouth feel fresh and clean.

Tom’s of Maine Children’s Toothpaste

Best for Children
Toms of Maine Childrens Toothpaste
RDA Value 57
Active Ingredients Sodium monofluorophosphate, Calcium carbonate
Price $11.97 (pack of 3)

Tom’s of Maine Children’s toothpaste is formulated so children can enjoy brushing their teeth. It has calcium and silica to gently clean children’s teeth and has an RDA value of 57.

The toothpaste has a fruity flavor, which prevents the usual burning sensation from mint-flavored toothpastes. Tom’s of Maine Children’s Toothpaste is also free of artificial flavoring, color, and preservatives.

Weleda Natural Salt Toothpaste

Best Salt Formulation
Weleda Natural Salt Toothpaste
RDA Value 15
Active Ingredients Baking soda, salt
Price $6.39

Weleda’s Natural Salt Toothpaste is one of the best-ranking toothpaste on the RDA chart with a value of 15. Its gentle formulation is fluoride-free while using sea salt and gentle mineral cleansers.

The salt in the formulation triggers saliva production. Their toothpaste relies on the saliva’s enzymes to naturally flush the mouth clean.

Rembrandt Intense Stain (Rembrandt Original)

Best Enmel Protection
Rembrandt Intense Stain Rembrandt Original
RDA Value 53
Active Ingredients Sodium fluoride
Price $11.95 (pack of 2)

Rembrandt’s Intense Stain toothpaste removes stains from your teeth with a unique blend of micropolishers. Their toothpaste has an RDA value of 53.

IMG 6197 1

Their formula can remove stains from red wine, berries, coffee, and tobacco. They also use fluoride to strengthen and restore the teeth's enamel.

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Teeth and Gums

Best for Sensitive Teeth
Arm Hammer Sensitive Teeth and Gums
RDA Value 48
Active Ingredients Baking soda
Price $9.99 (pack of 2)

Arm & Hammer’s Sensitive Teeth and Gums toothpaste has an RDA value of 48. Their formula uses triple enamel protection to neutralize enamel-eroding acids.

IMG 6194 1

Their formula uses Liquid Calcium™ technology, which repairs the enamel surface by filling in the tiny cracks on the teeth. It also restores tooth-strengthening minerals to improve and prevent tooth sensitivity.

Tom’s of Maine Rapid Relief Sensitive Toothpaste

Best with Natural Ingredients
Toms of Maine Rapid Relief Sensitive Toothpaste
RDA Value 49
Active Ingredients
Arginine bicarbonate (salt derived from arginine), calcium carbonate
$17.88 (pack of 3)

Tom's of Maine Rapid Relief Sensitive Toothpaste is the best toothpaste with natural ingredients. Its RDA value is 49 with a formula specifically for sensitive teeth.

It uses a combination of arginine and calcium carbonate. These are derived from natural sources only.

Arginine and calcium carbonate seal cracks in the teeth, preventing nerve exposure. Tom’s of Maine’s patented formula claims to provide long-lasting protection with continuous use.

Boka Ela Mint Toothpaste

Best Non-Flouride Option
Boka Ela Mint Toothpaste 2
RDA Value <50
Active Ingredients Nano Hydroxyapatite
Price $11.99

Boka Ela Mint Toothpaste is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. It has an RDA value of less than 50. 

Instead of fluoride, the brand uses nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HA) to remineralize teeth and reduce sensitivity. The formula is also sulfate and paraben-free.

IMG 6201 1

The formula uses aloe vera, xylitol, green tea, and mint to help clean teeth while providing a refreshing flavor.

Why Trust Our Recommendations

Because most kinds of toothpaste have the same base ingredients, New Mouth decided to focus on products with a low RDA value, are dentist-approved, and are from reputable brands.

New Mouth also focused on testing products that were more affordable and accessible than direct-to-consumer toothpaste brands.

After extensive research and product testing, this article also underwent an intensive review process:

  • The article was reviewed and fact-checked by two in-house editors
  • Our in-house dentists reviewed the article for accuracy
  • The article is updated and reviewed again every month to ensure all information is correct and up-to-date

How to Maintain Teeth Without Whitening Products

If you can’t or don’t want to use whitening kits or get professional teeth-whitening treatments, there are other ways to maintain a bright smile. Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking food that stains, such as:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Soda

You can also use a straw when drinking beverages that might cause staining.

Practicing good oral hygiene can also prevent tooth stains. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day.

15 Sources Cited
Last updated on November 30, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Mehrgan et al. “Comparison the effect of charcoal-containing, hydrogen peroxide-containing, and abrasive whitening toothpastes on color stability of a resin composite; an in vitro study.” BMC Oral Health, 2021.
  2. Jamwal et al. “Effect of whitening toothpaste on surface roughness and microhardness of human teeth: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” F1000 Research, 2022.
  3. Johannsen et al. “The importance of measuring toothpaste abrasivity in both a quantitative and qualitative way.” Acta Ondontologica Scandinavica, 2013.
  4. Suriyasangpetch et al. “Effect of Whitening Toothpaste on Surface Roughness and Colour Alteration of Artificially Extrinsic Stained Human Enamel: In Vitro Study.” Dentistry Journal, 2022.
  5. Simões et al. “Do commercial whitening dentifrices increase enamel erosive tooth wear?” Journal of Applied Oral Science, 2020.
  6. Moodley, DS., and Grobler, SR. “Concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide in Various Tooth-Whitening Products.” IADR General Session and Exhibition, 2014.
  7. Vicentini et al. “The measurement in vitro of dentine abrasion by toothpastes.” International Dental Journal, 2007.
  8. Moin, I. “Is Your Toothpaste Being Too Hard on You?” Spear Digest, 2018.
  9. Arnol et al. “Dentin abrasivity of various desensitizing toothpastes.” Head & Face Medicine, 2016.
  10. Vranic et al. “Formulation Ingredients for Toothpastes and Mouthwashes.” Journal of the Association of Basic Medical Sciences, 2004.
  11. Bizhang et al. “Toothbrush abrasivity in a long-term simulation on human dentin depends on brushing mode and bristle arrangement.” PLoS One, 2017.
  12. Lynch, RJM. “Zinc in the mouth, its interactions with dental enamel and possible effects on caries; a review of the literature.” International Dental Journal, 2011.
  13. Hsu et al. “Clinical efficacy of toothpaste containing 8.0% arginine and calcium carbonate for teeth hypersensitivity.” Journal of Dental Sciences, 2013.
  14. Rahardjo et al. “Potential Side Effects of Whitening Toothpaste on Enamel Roughness and Micro Hardness.” International Journal of Clinical Preventive Dentistry, 2015.
  15. Neel et al. “Demineralization–remineralization dynamics in teeth and bone.” International Journal of Nanomedicine, 2016.
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