Give yourself something to smile about with our pick of the best teeth whitening toothpastes
Even the biggest smiles can do with some brightening now and again, especially if you’re a fan of smoking or drinking stain-worthy teas and coffees. If you’re not keen on a whitening procedure at the dentist – which can often be quite pricey – incorporating a teeth whitening toothpaste into your daily brushing routine is the best way to keep the brightness of your teeth topped up. It’s key to remember that most whitening toothpastes will only remove pre-existing stains on the tooth’s surface and not actively brighten the natural colour of your teeth, because a product you use every day legally can’t include a high percentage of whitening agents.
But with so many toothpastes on offer, how do you distinguish between them all? Some are intended for protecting those with sensitive teeth, while others can provide the illusion of instantly whiter teeth – great for a one-off occasion, but the result won’t necessarily last too long. To help you choose, we’ve rounded up the best whitening toothpastes on the market, along with a short guide about what they can do for you.
READ NEXT: The best electric toothbrush to buy
Best teeth whitening toothpaste: At a glance
How to choose the best teeth whitening toothpaste for you
How does whitening toothpaste work?
The main issue that whitening toothpaste seeks to fix is surface staining – either caused by natural ageing, or by smoking and drinking tea, coffee and red wine. It achieves this by using a range of ingredients: some contain whitening agents like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide that break down and dissolve stains, while others use abrasive ingredients that scrub the teeth’s surface. Another ingredient is blue covarine: known as an optic brightener (a fancier way to say ‘optical illusion’), covarine coats the teeth in a type of film that has a bluish tinge which makes them look instantly whiter, although it’s only superficial and doesn’t last long.
Because over-the-counter whitening products can only include a small amount of whitening agents, these toothpastes won’t actively brighten the natural colour of your teeth. That can only be achieved by a dentist’s use of professional products that contain hydrogen peroxide, and should only be used once in a while. Most whitening toothpastes won’t brighten your teeth overnight but, when used regularly, they can remove existing surface stains and protect your teeth against future stains, too.
Can I use whitening toothpaste every day?
Whitening toothpaste is designed to be used twice daily, but shouldn’t be used more than this in case of adverse reaction. The main side effects from whitening toothpaste are mild gum irritation and increased sensitivity. If you experience these, it’s advisable to alternate between regular and whitening toothpaste to minimise your reaction.
The best teeth whitening toothpaste to buy
1. Sensodyne Whitening Repair and Protect Toothpaste: Best for sensitive teeth
Price: £5.50 | Buy now from Superdrug
As tooth enamel wears down, the dentine underneath becomes exposed – so if you wince when drinking something particularly hot or cold, your teeth might be overly sensitive. Sensodyne protects tooth enamel by forming a thin layer over sensitive areas, and actually re-hardens the enamel, too, thanks to a calcium formulation called NovaMin.
The toothpaste itself has a slightly chalky taste and a somewhat thicker consistency than you may be used to. The flavour is also less minty than some other pastes, but it still leaves you with fresh breath for hours afterwards. After just a few days your teeth should feel stronger and less sensitive, and they should have a subtly brighter shine, although you’re really choosing this toothpaste for its repairing qualities first and foremost.
Key specs – Amount: 75ml
2. SPLAT Biomed Superwhite Natural Coconut Toothpaste: Best natural whitening toothpaste
Price: £3 | Buy now from Amazon
If a minty-fresh mouth isn’t up your street, you might be a fan of Biomed’s natural coconut toothpaste – which, as you may imagine, has a rather distinct flavour. It uses cinnamon extract to help soothe gums, and bromelain (derived from pineapple extract) to remove plaque and polish enamel. The toothpaste itself has a slightly waxy consistency, probably due to the coconut oil, and tastes like a slightly spiced, minty coconut which may take some getting used to. Biomed claims that only 30 seconds of brushing will result in squeaky clean teeth, though we found it preferable to brush for a bit longer.
Biomed Superwhite contains only natural ingredients and is made without fluoride, making it suitable for children aged six and up who can’t brush with fluoride while their teeth are still developing. It’s a great vegan-friendly option and will leave your teeth looking subtly whiter if used regularly.
Key specs – Amount: 100g
3. Colgate Max White Whitening & Protect Toothpaste: Best for all-round protection
Price: £4 | Buy now from Boots
Colgate has long been a staple in many bathrooms, and although it has a wide range of whitening toothpastes available, we’re particularly keen on the triple action of the Max White. It contains three active minerals, which help to polish, protect and strengthen, including potassium nitrate to desensitise tooth nerves and cleaning crystals that remove surface stains.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the Max White also features a unique ‘smart foam’ that aids in the removal of debris but also feels a bit weird if you’re not ready for it. There’s none of the gritty post-brushing residue that some toothpastes leave behind, and your mouth does feel fresh and clean for hours afterwards. We noticed an improved whitening after using it twice daily for a week and didn’t feel any increased sensitivity, either. Another added benefit is the flat, stand-up cap, which is really useful for keeping your sink area tidy.
Key specs – Amount: 75ml
4. Pearl Drops Strong Polished White Toothpaste: Best for strengthening enamel
Price: £6.99 | Buy now from Superdrug
Pearl Drops are a classic teeth whitening brand, and we’re big fans of the enamel strengthening capabilities of Strong Polished, which claims to leave teeth four shades whiter in three weeks. To aid this claim, the packaging features a colour chart for you to match your current (and hopefully eventual) tooth shade.
Pearl Drops uses dental grade polishing agents like perlite to gently polish teeth and lift stains without damaging enamel. As it’s classed as ‘low abrasion’ it’s safe to use this toothpaste every day, and most people see results pretty fast. You can also clearly see the little pearl-like blue beads of perlite in the paste, but the paste itself is white (if you’ve used other Pearl Drops products you’ll know its other toothpastes are bright pink and purple).
It’s a pretty pricey option – certainly the most expensive we’ve included here – but Strong Polished often seems to be on offer at various stores and online.
Key specs – Amount: 75ml
5. Colgate Smile For Good Whitening Toothpaste: Best for the environment
Price: £5 | Buy now from Boots
Colgate’s first recyclable toothpaste tube is part of its ‘Smile for Good’ range, which aims to make all of its products fully recyclable by 2025. The packaging reflects the contents: it comes in an unassuming brown cardboard with the ingredients and their benefits plainly listed in a large font on the box and repeated down the front of the tube. Both the box and tube can be recycled as the latter is made from high density polyethylene – the same material used for milk bottles. Colgate claims the toothpaste is made up of nine ‘consciously selected ingredients’ and is suitable for vegans, thanks to an absence of glycerol.
In terms of whitening, there’s a marked difference after a week or so of using twice daily, although some customers report an increase of sensitivity, too. The other possible downside is the underwhelming flavour – it’s not as minty as other toothpastes and doesn’t make your breath as fresh as a result. But, when you consider how much waste is generated by normal toothpaste tubes, this is a fantastic environmentally friendly alternative.
Key specs – Amount: 75ml