This is our selection of the best toothpastes for sensitive teeth, whitening, kids or just maintaining healthier gums
Looking to brighten up your smile? The answer could be a new toothpaste. Tangible benefits can include whiter teeth, healthier gums, fresher breath or reduced sensitivity.
There’s a huge range to choose from, though, and a wide spread of prices. We’ve tested the nation’s leading toothpastes, as well as delving into third-party studies and reviews, to find out which brands are worth paying for and why certain pastes suit different requirements better than others. Is it time to switch your daily toothpaste? Read on to find out.
Best toothpaste: At a glance
- The best toothpaste for all-round protection: Oral B Pro-Expert Professional Protection
- The best affordable whitening toothpaste: Colgate Max White Optic
- The best for sensitive teeth: Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening
- The best for range of flavours: Marvis Toothpaste
- The best for smokers and coffee drinkers: Blanx Intensive Stain Removal
- The best for improving gum health: Corsodyl Ultra Clean
- The best for fresh breath: Colgate Total Freshening Toothpaste
- The best charcoal toothpaste: Curaprox Black is White Toothpaste and Toothbrush
How to choose the best toothpaste for you
What ingredients should I look out for?
If you believed the ads, you’d think that the dental care industry was a hotbed of innovation, with different toothpastes promising to protect against specific conditions, or claiming cleaning power that other pastes can’t match. Most such claims can be taken with a pinch of salt: the most important qualities of a toothpaste are the most basic ones of all.
Specifically, fluoride concentration is the biggie. The vast, vast majority of dentists agree that fluoride plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay, and NHS guidelines recommend that toothpastes containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm (parts per million) of fluoride will be most effective. That covers most commercial toothpastes, but some natural or organic pastes might not contain any.
Then there are some other agents that might be beneficial, including Novamin, which bonds to the surface of the tooth to protect sensitive areas, and Triclosan, which some studies show is an effective antibacterial agent. Arginine or Calcium Carbonate have been shown to have some neutralising effect on plaque acids. But don’t get too caught up with revolutionary new compounds. Provided the fluoride content is high enough, which toothpaste you use is less important than how and how often you use it, not to mention how long and carefully you brush.
Are whitening toothpastes worth it?
We all want brighter, whiter teeth, and whitening toothpastes really can whiten even quite discoloured teeth over time – or in a single session using the more potent whitening pastes. The problem is that whitening toothpastes can also cause heightened sensitivity and enamel abrasion; if you do use one long term, it could be rough on your poor gnashers.
Do toothpastes for sensitive teeth work?
Sensitive toothpastes are designed to be kind to your teeth, and feature ingredients like potassium nitrate that alleviate sensitivity, so you can drink hot or cold beverages without grimacing and yelping. There’s no major side effects, but you may need to build up the desensitizing effects over a period of time.
What else should I be aware of?
Another issue to consider is gum disease. Several toothpastes claim to aid in treatment as part of a daily brushing routine, but toothpaste on its own won’t be as effective as a chlorhexidine mouthwash used for a limited period. It’s arguably more important to ensure you brush all your back teeth, brush twice daily for at least two minutes and ensure you brush (not too hard) on the gumline to get rid of plaque. Using floss or interdental brushes can also be particularly effective, as can switching to a good electric toothbrush.
Do children need their own toothpaste?
No. In fact, some toothpastes marketed at children don’t have enough fluoride in them to help stop tooth decay and children that get used to the more fruity tastes of children’s toothpaste often find it hard to move onto the decent, minty-tasting toothpastes that they will need later on. That said, up until six years old, children can use a low-strength toothpaste – as long as it contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride. From seven years old, children can use the same toothpaste as the rest of the family, provided it contains 1,350-1,500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride.
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The best toothpaste to buy
1. Oral B Pro-Expert Professional Protection: The best toothpaste for all-round protection
Price: £2 (75ml) | Buy now from Boots
When it comes to general oral hygiene, Oral B’s Pro Expert Professional Protection gets a lot of recommendations, both from dentists and existing users. It incorporates a stannous fluoride complex, combining soluble fluoride, stabilised stannous and polyphosphate, which protects against cavities, plaque, gum problems, sensitivity and enamel erosion – plus active clean crystals to keep your pearly whites feeling clean. The long-lasting smooth-teeth sensation makes your mouth feel really fresh, and this toothpaste does a better job than most at tackling stains too. The minty taste isn’t overpowering either.
Key specs – Flavour: Mint-flavoured toothpaste; Key ingredients: 1,450ppm fluoride in stannous fluoride complex
2. Colgate Max White Optic: The best affordable whitening toothpaste
Price: £2 (75ml) | Buy now from Superdrug
Historically, whitening toothpastes have catered mostly to smokers and those with a penchant for the vino rosso – but today’s are much more mainstream. Some can be rough on your teeth and gums, making them sensitive or wearing away at the enamel, but Colgate Max White Optic has an easy-going approach for daily use, with an “Advanced Brightener System” that releases a blue foam to give an instant whitening effect. It’s only temporary, so you need to keep using the toothpaste, and it can leave a slight blue residue which needs to be rinsed away. Still, it’s less gritty than some whitening toothpastes, and leaves you with clean-feeling, noticeably whiter teeth.
Key specs – Flavour: Mint; Key ingredients: 1,450ppm fluoride, Advanced Brightener System
3. Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening: The best for sensitive teeth
Price: £6 (75ml) | Buy now from Amazon
Find hot beverages hard on the ivories? Does your first bite into pizza leave you whimpering like a motherless pup? Sensodyne has the stuff to sort that out, and its Pronamel Gentle Whitening toothpaste also protects against acid, removes stains and hardens the tooth enamel. Needless to say, it whitens too. The tried and tested formula reduces sensitivity, while the paste is designed to deliver fluoride deep into the tooth’s surface, supposedly rebuilding enamel strength. Users like the foamy, bubbly feel and the minty fresh taste, and it leaves teeth feeling clean and smooth. The whitening action is also nice and gentle, giving you a brighter smile without more aches and pains.
Key specs – Flavour: Mint; Key ingredients: 1,450ppm fluoride, potassium nitrate
4. Marvis Toothpaste: The best for range of flavours
Price: £7 (85ml) | Buy now from Lookfantastic
Looking for a paste that tastes as good as it cleans? Marvis aims to freshen your breath and brighten your morning routine with its delightful range of exotic pastes. The Italian brand keeps your teeth, gums and taste buds happy by adding unique flavours to a traditional mint base; there’s Ginger Mint, Jasmin Mint and even a Rambas edition with a blend of pineapple, peach, mango and mint. The tartar-busting toothpaste has a creamy, non-abrasive formula that effectively removes plaque without damaging your teeth’s enamel and with a cool, retro design it’ll look the part in your bathroom vanity, too. While these Marvis toothpastes won’t brighten your smile or help with sensitivity, they’re a fun way to keep your gnashers looking their best.
5. BlanX Intensive Stain Removal: The best for smokers and coffee drinkers
Price: £4 (75ml) | Buy now from Boots
BlanX is one of the big guns in specialist whitening toothpastes and this Intensive Stain Removal toothpaste promises to restore teeth to their original whiteness with a non-abrasive formula – which, believe it or not, involves a lichen grown naturally in the Arctic, along with a bamboo micropowder. Users report that it works well on coffee, red wine and tobacco stains, though it takes a few weeks of regular use for the effect to be noticeable. It also lacks the gritty feel of some other pricey whitening toothpastes, and doesn’t leave your teeth and gums more sensitive. If you’re a chain-smoking, espresso-slurping bon vivant who’s rarely seen without a glass of wine in hand, this one’s for you.
Key specs – Flavour: Mint; Key ingredients: 362ppm fluoride, 528ppm sodium monofluorophosphate
6. Corsodyl Ultra Clean: The best for improving gum health
Price: £4 (75ml) | Buy now from Boots
While Corsodyl’s mouthwashes are a go-to for anyone with gingivitis, its toothpastes make a good partner in the battle against gum disease. They use refined particles of sodium bicarbonate to break down the layers of plaque along the gumline, making the major cause of bleeding gums that bit easier to remove. That’s backed up by the usual fluoride, plus a selection of other cleaning and soothing agents. One thing we like about this Ultra Clean version is that it doesn’t taste as weird as the original Corsodyl Daily paste, which has a part-mineral, part-herbal flavour. It still tastes pretty odd though, so it might take a few weeks before you stop gurning in the bathroom mirror. Still, it’s a price worth paying for healthy gums.
Key specs – Flavour: Mint; Key ingredients: 1,450ppm fluoride, sodium bicarbonate
7. Colgate Total Freshening Toothpaste: The best for fresh breath
Price: £4 (125ml) | Buy now from Boots
It goes without saying – or at least it should – that removing plaque and fighting potential cavities is the most important job that toothpaste can do. But if you also want the freshest breath possible, then this is the tube for you. Making morning breath a thing of the past, it is highly effective at fighting gingivitis, and other nasty germs that cause bad breath and other complications – and you can expect that breath to stay fresh even after 12 hours. It does a decent enough job of keeping teeth white, with all the ingredients you’d expect to achieve this, although some users find it a bit too minty.
Key specs – Flavour: Mint; Key ingredients: 1,450ppm fluoride, hydrated sillica
8. Curaprox Black is White Toothpaste and Toothbrush: The best charcoal toothpaste
Price: £19.05 (90ml) | Buy now from Amazon
Unlike typical whitening toothpastes that contain abrasive particles and bleaching agents, this charcoal-based toothpaste uses activated carbon to gently absorb and remove stain particles that discolour teeth – the idea being that it’s kinder to your enamel and ultimately a more healthy, safe way to get a gleaming set of gnashers. Also unlike other teeth-whitening toothpastes, it doesn’t dry out the mouth. It’s probably the priciest toothpaste you’ll buy in your life, but it’s much cheaper than some of the gel kits and we found whiter teeth after just a few days. Don’t be alarmed by the black frothing at the mouth when you use it (although you might want to warn your other half) as it leaves your mouth feeling really clean, with a fresh, ever-so-slightly lingering taste
Key specs – Flavour: Lemon; Key ingredients: 950ppm fluoride, 15,000ppm hydroxylapatite (nano), activated charcoal