Best whitening toothpaste for a brighter smile, approved by dentists and tested by us

Woman&home's health team found the best whitening toothpaste to help brighten your teeth for a dazzling smile

A range of the best whitening toothpaste
(Image credit: Corsodyl/Colgate/Spotlight Oral Care)

The best whitening toothpaste won't alter the color of your teeth in the same way professional treatment would, but it can certainly help lift surface stains and go a long way to helping you achieve a brighter smile in the long term. 

The main difference between home whitening kits and the treatments you'll have at the dentist is that professional work uses six percent hydrogen peroxide. This chemical formula works to tackle discoloration on our enamel - the outer protective layer on our teeth - caused by red wine, coffee, and other tannin-rich foods and drinks. But with this power comes cost - both in terms of time spent in the dentist's chair and money. So it's always worth checking whether you can get at least some way to the Hollywood shine on your own. 

To help you work out what whitening toothpaste is right for you, we asked the experts and tested products from the leading oral health brands so that you can find the best toothpaste for your needs. 

How we tried and tested the best whitening toothpaste

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

When deciding on the best whitening toothpaste, we consulted top dentists to determine what ingredients we should be looking out for and which ones we should look to avoid. Plus, we asked them about brands and certain products they'd recommend for particular types of whitening. Then we collated a range of kinds of toothpaste from across the market that met the criteria and the health team at woman&home tested them out to see if they made much of a difference. 

In testing the best whitening toothpaste, we looked at:  

  • Whitening results: Did the toothpaste lift stains and deliver a whiter smile within the suggested timeframe given by the manufacturer? We noted how white our testers' teeth were before and after use, rating each paste based on how successful the whitening was.
  • Frequency of use: No amount of brushing will give you a whiter smile but we assessed each toothpaste to determine how long it took to see the effects of using the whitening toothpaste. Good results in just a few weeks were the gold standard, so we measured the best whitening toothpaste against this. 
  • Fluoride quantity: Fluoride is essential for maintaining healthy tooth enamel, which creates the natural white color of your teeth, so it's important to keep this intact. According to The Oral Health Foundation (opens in new tab), you should expect to see 1350ppm to 1500ppm of fluoride in most formulas so we made sure to note how much fluoride each paste contained. 
  • Product claims: Did the product deliver on claims of whiter teeth? We tested the results of the toothpaste's claim to see if the results weren't only significant, but delivered on the claims made by the manufacturer. 
  • Taste: No one wants to (or would continue to) use a foul-tasting toothpaste, or even just one that left a less-than-minty-fresh taste after brushing so we also rated each paste on its taste and texture.

Best whitening toothpastes, tested by the expert health team

Colgate Max White Ultra Active Foam Teeth Whitening Toothpaste, 75ml, the best whitening toothpaste on our list

(Image credit: Colgate)

1. Colgate Max White Ultra Active Foam Whitening Toothpaste

Best whitening toothpaste overall

Specifications

RRP: $5.89 / £4
Fluoride : 1450 ppm
Flavor : Mint
Features: Warming sensation and oxygen molecules

Reasons to buy

+
Visibly whiter teeth in three days 
+
Fresh taste 
+
Actively works to prevent teeth staining 

Reasons to avoid

-
Tastes chemically to begin with 

Colgate is the leading brand when it comes to home teeth whitening and their latest product, the Colgate Max White Ultra Active Foam Whitening Toothpaste, is no different. I tried this one myself and can back up the company's claim of visibly-whiter teeth in just three days as I saw a color change to my own in less than a week. 

While I don't have very stained teeth, I do drink both red wine and coffee so naturally, my teeth are a little darker. I didn't notice any difference after the first brush but after using the paste for three days, I did notice some changes to the color of my teeth. They weren't brilliant white,  but they were a lot brighter than they were before, with some of the minor stains between my teeth gone as well. 

Apart from the slightly chemical taste, which you soon get used to, this paste is really pleasant to use and you only need a pea-sized amount for a full two minutes of brushing. As soon as I started brushing, I noticed the foaming effect on my teeth. I found this not only made my teeth feel cleaner post-brush, but I could make sure that I was covering every single one of my teeth and it felt like a little of the paste went a lot further than normal toothpaste. 

I'd recommend this toothpaste if you're looking to lighten the color of your teeth without making n aesthetic dental appointment. It's also one of the cheaper options on our list, coming in at under $6 / £5, which is also significantly less than some of Colgate's other products too. 

Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste Gel, the best whitening toothpaste

(Image credit: Colgate)

2. Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste Gel

Best premium whitening toothpaste

Specifications

RRP: $26 / £20
Fluoride: 1450ppm
Flavor: Mint
Features: Enzyme boosted, removes deep stains, enamel-shield technology

Reasons to buy

+
Whitens teeth in five days
+
Long-term teeth whitening treatment
+
Fresh taste 

Reasons to avoid

-
Most expensive whitening toothpaste on the list

If you have a little more money to spend on whitening your teeth at home but still aren't looking for a professional treatment, then this Colgate toothpaste could be for you. A fellow member of the woman&home health team tested the paste and said: "I used this toothpaste for two weeks in total and noticed changes within about five days. I drink a lot of tea and I have quite a bit of yellowing towards the back of my mouth so I wasn't expecting huge results. However, I found this toothpaste cleared it up. My teeth were whiter all over and also a lot more even in color, which I didn't expect." 

This Colgate whitening gel also has a smooth texture and our tester found it made her teeth feel squeaky clean after use, even if the flavor was a little intense. "My breath felt clean afterward. It's a feeling I don't really get with a lot of other toothpastes so I normally use a mouthwash as well, but I didn't feel the need to with this toothpaste." 

While our tester can't comment on the brand's promise to get rid of 15 years-worth of discoloration, the results are looking so far so good. The only downside, she comments, is the price as it's a huge jump up from the $5 price point of our top option with no guarantee that the premium price point will pay off. It's worth noting, however, that this toothpaste is regularly on sale and we've seen offers for as much as 50% off recently. 

Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

(Image credit: Arm&Hammer)

3. Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste

Best budget whitening toothpaste

Specifications

RRP: $7.95 / £3
Fluoride: Y (1100 ppm)
Flavor: Clean mint
Features: low abrasion formula, fluoride cavity protection, tartar control agent

Reasons to buy

+
Removes surface stains 
+
Contains classic whitening ingredients
+
Cheapest option on the list

Reasons to avoid

-
Less fluoride than other toothpastes

Where there's a premium whitening toothpaste, there's always an option for those with more of a budget. The top pick in our list, the Colgate Max White Ultra Active Foam Whitening Toothpaste, is an excellent budget option as well at under $6 / £5. However, the Extreme Whitening option from Arm & Hammer is another great pick if you're after something even cheaper than this. At almost $8 in the US, it works out more expensive than our top pick but in the UK, it's only £3. 

Arm & Hammer is a classic brand that uses baking soda in its whitening toothpaste to help remove surface stains and improve the appearance of the teeth. Our tester tried the product out over two weeks and found it was effective in removing stains - especially the trickier ones that appear between the teeth. "All of my teeth were whiter after using this toothpaste but I particularly saw a change in the color of the sides of my teeth," she says. 

"It's on the cheaper end of the spectrum so I don't mind this but the toothpaste didn't leave my teeth feeling as minty fresh as some of the other ones I tried out and it also left a slightly chalky aftertaste. But I don't feel I can complain, it still did a great job."

Our tester also commented that the texture was a thinner consistency than most other kinds of toothpaste, meaning she had to use more from the tube to achieve a clean-feeling mouth but ultimately, it did make her teeth whiter. 

One important note when it comes to this toothpaste is the fluoride level. In comparison to other pastes on our list, this one has a much lower fluoride level meaning it doesn't protect your teeth from cavities and other issues to the same level. "I probably wouldn't use it in the long term because I want toothpaste with more protection for my teeth as I know cavities are one of the potential causes of sensitive teeth, which I also have," our tester said. 

Spotlight Oral Care, one of the best whitening toothpaste

(Image credit: Spotlight Oral Care )

4. Spotlight Oral Care Toothpaste For Whitening Teeth

Best vegan whitening toothpaste

Specifications

RRP: $9.99 / £9.50
Fluoride: Y (1450ppm)
Flavor: Spearmint
Features: Vegan, contains hydrogen peroxide, PETA-approved

Reasons to buy

+
Strong spearmint flavor
+
Gradual whitening formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Taste can be overpowering

If you're vegan and you're looking for a toothpaste to match, it may be better to opt for Spotlight Oral Care's Toothpaste for Whitening Teeth option. While it was the least-effective whitening toothpaste on our list when it came to learning how to whiten teeth at home, it's 100% vegan and it still did have some effect on the color of our tester's teeth. 

"Having vegan toothpaste is essential for me as I don't have any other animal products in my life. I was looking forward to trying a new one," she says. "I did find that the paste had a very strong mint flavor which was overpowering, to begin with, but my teeth did feel very clean afterward. It also took two weeks to see any change to my teeth at all but I did see a slight color change to all of my teeth through the weeks and now I wouldn't go back to using my old non-whitening toothpaste, but don't expect pearly whites." 

Our tester also said that the texture was smooth and the consistency of the paste was at normal levels - not so thick as to feel heavy and not so thin that she had to use a lot of the paste on her toothbrush. 

This toothpaste's eco-friendly credentials and smooth texture make this paste a worthwhile spend if you want ways to whiten teeth naturally but aren't looking for huge results. If you're not specifically looking for a vegan toothpaste then I'd recommend opting for our top pick - the Colgate Max White Ultra Active Foam Whitening Toothpaste, as this actively whitens teeth more. 

Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

(Image credit: Sensodyne)

5. Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

Best whitening toothpaste for taste

Specifications

RRP: $6.99 / £4
Fluoride: Y (1450ppm)
Flavor: alpine Breeze or cool mint
Features: acid protection formula, formulated for people with sensitive teeth, dentist-recommended

Reasons to buy

+
Dentist-approved 
+
Practical desgin 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Minimal whitening

Our tester loved the taste of this toothpaste, having also tested the Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening option. "It's significantly smoother and feels much less chalky through the brushing process which I appreciated. Compared to the other toothpaste I tried, it feels a lot more like a normal toothpaste with additional benefits rather than a whitening-specific paste." 

When we looked into the details of this toothpaste, we discovered this was down to the inclusion of glycerin and sorbitol in the paste. These two ingredients are essential if you're looking for smooth brushing as they hold the paste together and make it taste sweeter. 

"Where whitening was concerned, I did see results but they were minimal," says our tester. "I eat a lot of food and drink beverages that probably stain my teeth quite badly so I wasn't too surprised by this. I know that teeth whitening and coffee aren't a match." Overall, she used the paste for two weeks and found that results started coming through after about six days but when compared to other's testers' results, her teeth didn't undergo such a whitening transformation. 

However, the paste is relatively cheap compared to others on the list so it's always worth trying out if you're looking for a clean-feeling whitening toothpaste. "My breath also felt fresher using this toothpaste and I can see that it's beneficial for rebuilding the health of your teeth as it's relatively high in fluoride. I would continue using this toothpaste, for sure." 

Oral-B Pro Expert Whitening Toothpaste

(Image credit: Oral B)

6. Oral-B Pro Expert Whitening Toothpaste

Best value-for-money whitening toothpaste

Specifications

RRP: $9.99 / £3
Fluoride: Y (1450ppm)
Flavor: Clean mint
Features: removes surface stains, helps prevents enamel erosion, 24-hour protection

Reasons to buy

+
Visibly whiter teeth
+
Dentist recommended 
+
Strong minty flavor

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes a while to see whitening results

If you have time on your side and you're willing to be patient with your teeth whitening results, Oral-B's Pro-Expert Whitening Toothpaste at $9.99 / £3 could be the pick of the best whitening toothpaste for you. Not only is it a lower price than many of the pastes on this list, our tester felt it was value for money. 

"I noticed changes in the color of my teeth about two and a half weeks in," she says. "In total, I tested the paste for about a month and always brushed before breakfast rather than after, in case that makes any difference. I noticed the most visible changes after a fortnight. My teeth were whiter and many of the surface stains around my gum lines had disappeared. I also really liked how this toothpaste left my teeth feeling fresh and my mouth felt clean." 

Famously a brand favorite of dentists, Oral-B’s Pro-Expert Whitening Toothpaste contains ingredients such as stabilized stannous and polyphosphate to strengthen teeth while whitening them. Much like the other pastes on our list, this pick also contains a suitable amount of fluoride to protect teeth from wear and tear, cavities, and other issues. 

Corsodyl Whitening Toothpaste

(Image credit: Corsodyl )

7. Corsodyl Whitening Toothpaste

Best whitening toothpaste for gum care

Specifications

RRP: $5.92 / £4
Fluoride: 1400ppm
Flavor: Mint
Features : gentle whitening, deep cleans, strengthens enamel

Reasons to buy

+
Kind to gums
+
Protects sensitive teeth
+
Gentle formula 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some find the taste unpleasant 
-
Not as clean a feel as others on the market

Gum care is one of the more undervalued elements of oral hygiene. Without good gum care, cavities and tooth decay are a big risk. Corsodyl is a daily fluoride toothpaste that is clinically proven to help stop and prevent bleeding gums, so we were eager to have someone test the product who suffers from this. 

Our tester suffers from gum inflammation and occasional bleeding but was also keen to try a whitening toothpaste that claims to remove surface stains without making the condition worse. "I enjoyed using this toothpaste," she tells us. "The formula felt gentle and non-abrasive on my teeth, meaning it didn't give me any gum irritation either during brushing or afterward. While I did find the taste to be mild, it's more salty than sweet and there was a slight tang to the toothpaste that meant it didn't feel as fresh as others I've used in the past."

After three weeks of using this toothpaste, our tester notices her inflamed gums felt calmer and her teeth were slightly brighter. Although we wouldn't advise expecting miracles on the whitening front, this is a great option for anyone with sensitive gums that wants to give their smile a boost. However, it'll be best to increase how often you visit the dentist if you're concerned about gum disease before trying home remedies. 

Icy Bear Diamond Whitening Toothpaste

(Image credit: Icy Bear)

7. Icy Bear Diamond Whitening Toothpaste

Best fast-acting whitening toothpaste

Specifications

RRP: $24.55 / £17.99
Fluoride: Y (1450ppmm)
Flavor: ice mint
Features: contains diamond dust, not too abrasive, strengthens tooth enamel and protects against cavities

Reasons to buy

+
Contains diamond dust
+
Fast-acting
+
Fresh taste 

Reasons to avoid

-
Taste could be overpowering

While nothing beats the three-day color change of the Colgate toothpaste that appears first on our list, this toothpaste also produced some speedy results in comparison to some of the others. The brainchild of celebrity dentist Dr Hanna Kinsella, the Icy Bear range promises quick results with little abrasiveness. The formula uses dust from ground diamonds to effectively reduce stains, which explains the higher price point. 

"I was a little skeptical at first, but I did learn that diamond dust is a natural abrasive agent that reduces staining while polishing the surface of the teeth," our tester tells us. "I noticed differences in the staining and color of teeth within about four to five days, but it wasn't a huge color change. I'd say they maybe turned one shade whiter than they were before with much less staining across all of my teeth." 

The results were standard generally, she explains, offering a similar level of success to the Arm & Hammer Extreme Whitening Toothpaste - our cheapest option. But the results came to a lot faster and there was a real change after seven days, so if you're able to spend a little more and you want speedier results, this is the paste to choose from. Also, unlike the Arm & Hammer paste, this toothpaste has a high level of fluoride and is not abrasive in any way, making for a satisfying brushing experience.

How to choose the best whitening toothpaste

  • How white do you want your teeth? When choosing your whitening toothpaste, it's important to temper your expectations and consider how white you're expecting your teeth to be after using the toothpaste. None of these will turn yellow teeth pearly white after a couple of weeks of use, so think about whether it's a whitening toothpaste you really want - or whether a dentist's whitening treatment would be better for you.
  • Is this the only toothpaste you're going to use? Consider whether you're planning to use this paste in combination with another type of toothpaste. For example, perhaps you'd rather opt for a gum-focused whitening toothpaste in combination with a regular paste for a more clean feeling. If that's the case, it'll be pointless to opt for a minty fresh whitening toothpaste as well. 
  • How soon do you want to see the results? As we've seen from this curated list, some kinds of toothpaste offer visible changes in the color of your teeth in as little as three to five days. If you don't mind waiting a little longer, you may be able to spend less. 
  • Do you want a fresh feeling? How important is that fresh feeling to you? If you want a toothpaste that'll leave you with minty fresh breath, it'll be best to opt for one that's described as giving this effect and avoid the more salty-tasting kinds of toothpaste. 
  • Budget: The big difference between many of the best whitening toothpaste on our list is price. All our testers, including myself, attested that they saw some change to the color of their teeth during the testing process, regardless of whether the toothpaste cost $20 or $8. Consider your budget and what your other priorities are before deciding on the best whitening toothpaste for you.

Teeth whitening ingredients to look out for

There are a few key ingredients to have on your radar when looking for whitening toothpaste including whitening products like hydrogen peroxide, along with abrasive material for a deeper scrub. Dr Kailesh Solanki (opens in new tab), who specializes in aesthetic and restorative dentistry, says, "Whitening toothpaste which contains blue optic brighteners also coats the teeth, giving a brighter effect, but this still won't penetrate the deeper layers of the enamel to change the color of the teeth." 

Hydrogen peroxide

This is a bleaching agent found in many cleaning and household products  - but don't panic, the concentration of the chemical in teeth whitening toothpaste is tiny. Despite this, it can still have a noticeable effect on the color of your teeth over time.  

"If you're living in the UK, be aware that by law, only up to 0.1 percent hydrogen peroxide can be used in products sold off the shelf, which isn’t enough to whiten teeth," says Dr Kunal Patel (opens in new tab), a dentist with expertise in teeth whitening. 

Carbamide peroxide

Carbamide peroxide is a whitening agent is similar to hydrogen peroxide, Dr Patel, who is also the founder of Love Teeth Dental Practice (opens in new tab), says. "Water-based carbamide peroxide is a product formed from hydrogen peroxide and urea. This has the same function as hydrogen peroxide but is thought to have longer-lasting effects." 

Hydrated silica

Hydrated silica is another common ingredient in the best whitening toothpastes, and it works as an abrasive (in a similar way to baking soda) to scrub the stains from your teeth. 

"Check if your whitening toothpaste is suitable for daily use and follow the instructions provided, as many types of whitening toothpaste are abrasive, and if overused, could gradually wear away your enamel," says Dr Elizabeth Claire Borland (opens in new tab) at Bupa Dental Care, Malin Bridge.

How long does it take to whiten teeth? 

It can take up to two to six weeks to see a noticeable difference in the color of your teeth when using a whitening toothpaste for the first time. While these whitening toothpastes did have some positive effects in as little as four weeks, you shouldn't expect to see results quickly. 

"If stain removing toothpaste is used every day, the stains should start to fade in a matter of weeks, depending on the severity of staining," says Dr Patel. However, if you're wondering how often you should brush your teeth to see results, it's best to continue brushing twice a day.

Does charcoal toothpaste work?

There is little evidence that charcoal toothpaste works as an effective whitener, a 2017 review from University of Maryland School of Dentistry (opens in new tab) found. It's become a popular product in recent years with activated charcoal hitting the dental care shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets worldwide - but it's not all it's cracked up to be. 

The review urges dentists to warn patients away from exclusively using charcoal-based toothpastes due to the possible risks of the abrasive compounds which can wear down the enamel on your teeth, exposing them to sensitivity. Rather than being a way to prevent yellow teeth, this damage can cause teeth to discolor further. They warn that charcoal particles have been known to gather in the cracks of older teeth as well, leading to darker-appearing teeth in general. 

Perhaps more worryingly though, some evidence included in the review found that charcoal kinds of toothpaste could contribute to tooth decay over time as they lack fluoride, the essential compound in regular toothpaste that protects tooth enamel. 

"Charcoal toothpaste should be used with care," Dr Patel explains. "This is another abrasive product that can help to remove surface stains. It is much harsher though, and it can damage the tooth enamel if used too frequently, so it should not be used every day."