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10 best whitening toothpastes for a dazzling smile

The Independent logo The Independent 14/11/2022 Amerley Ollennu

Oral care is having a major moment, and along with straighter teeth, there’s a huge demand for whiter, brighter smiles too.

But at-home teeth whitening can be dicey; homemade remedies can destroy enamel, while blue LED light kits used too often increase tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. This makes (the right) whitening toothpastes a safer option when it comes to combating stains caused by some of the best things life has to offer – coffee and wine.

Aesthetic dentist and Pärla co-founder Dr Rhona Eskander, explains that when it comes to the shade of your teeth, “stains are either extrinsic, aka surface stains or intrinsic, aka stains that occur inside the tooth. Toothpaste containing silica, an abrasive ingredient, removes extrinsic stains by scrubbing the surface of your teeth. But, those that also contain bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide, can whiten extrinsic and intrinsic stains.”

Eskander also shares that while whitening toothpastes are designed to remove more stains than regular toothpastes that focus solely on improving oral health, there is a limit to how white your teeth can go.

“Everyone has a baseline, not to mention the actives in whitening toothpastes are not as strong as those you can get from a dentist.” She says. “Moreover, if your teeth have lost enamel, then dentine, which is the supportive structure of our teeth, that lies immediately underneath our enamel becomes visible. It’s more yellow in colour and less prone to effective whitening.”

Keeping this in mind helped us have realistic expectations while testing, so we were pleasantly surprised by what our top 10 could do.

How we tested

We tested each toothpaste over the course of two weeks. We brushed day and night, for the recommended two minutes a session, using the Oral-B iO 9 ultimate clean electric toothbrush, to ensure consistency. And when it came to our final score, we took price, taste, fresh breath factor and whether it caused any sensitivity, alongside how well it whitened our teeth into account.

The best teeth whitening toothpastes for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Pearl drops strong polished white toothpaste: £7, Boots.com
  • Best for fresh breath – Oral-B 3d white clinical whitening restore power fresh toothpaste: £8, Boots.com
  • Best for surface stain removal – Colgate max white ultimate renewal whitening toothpaste: £10, Boots.com
  • Best naturally based – Hello naturally whitening fluoride toothpaste: £6.99, Superdrug.com
  • Best for sensitive gums and teeth – Corsodyl complete protection toothpaste whitening: £4.50, Boots.com
  • Best on a budget – Arm & Hammer advanced white pro: £1.75, Boots.com
  • Best peroxide free paste – Hismile PAP+ whitening toothpaste: £11, Hismileteeth.com
  • Best tabs – Pärla pro plastic-free toothpaste tabs: From £8, Parlatoothpastetabs.com
  • Best vegan formula – Polished London ultra white LMD toothpaste: £11.99, Polishedlondon.com
  • Best luxury paste – Selahatin amorist whitening toothpaste: £17, Johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Pearl Drops strong polished white toothpaste

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Containing perlite, a dental grade polishing agent, this toothpaste promises to make your teeth up to four shades whiter in just three weeks – and we think it delivered. It’s easy to use and lathers up nicely when brushing, and had a faint minty taste that’s just enough to leave your mouth feeling fresh and clean.

Our teeth felt super smooth post use, and had a nice shine to them too. In terms of how long it took to notice a difference in colour, we’d say about two weeks. By that point our teeth looked at least a shade (if not two) whiter. However, what really impressed us was how its polishing capabilities were not just able to make our teeth whiter overall, but also removed stains that had built up in an area of crowding on our lower teeth that other toothpastes had never been able to shift.

Buy now £7.00, Boots.com

Oral-B 3d white clinical whitening restore power fresh toothpaste

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This grainy paste is as minty fresh as they come, which was a welcome addition to its whitening prowess, as some of the toothpastes we tested lost points in the fresh breath department. On top of the intense minty flavour, it didn’t take very long – just a few days in fact – for us to notice a difference on the existing staining we had on our teeth. And by the end of the two-week trial, it was also clear that it worked well at reducing stain build-up from the foods and drinks we most commonly consume, namely coffee, green tea, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Thanks to its four-step approach – loosening, lifting, polishing and protecting – our teeth feel smoother and look brighter and whiter too.

Buy now £8.00, Boots.com

Colgate max white ultimate renewal whitening toothpaste

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A clinical study conducted on 76 people who had stains caused by food and drink showed this toothpaste has the ability to reverse up to 15 years of discolouration. Was that the case when we tested it? Well, ultimately, it’s hard to say how many years of staining it took off our gnashers, but it certainly made a dent.

The paste is smooth rather than grainy, and is nice and thick too. It cleans well, leaving teeth feeling super smooth, and the professional whitening ingredients within the formula help lift stains – red wine stood no chance against this. But there was one area where we felt there was room for improvement, and that was the “taste” and subsequent fresh breath effect.

This particular toothpaste has a rather peculiar taste, it’s not minty at all in our opinion and while it definitely gets rid of morning breath it doesn’t leave a minty fresh scent in your mouth – meaning mouthwash post cleansing was absolutely necessary.

Buy now £10.00, Boots.com

Hello naturally whitening fluoride toothpaste

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In terms of the formula and packaging we were off to a good start. The tube is bpa-free and the box it comes in is 100 per cent recyclable, while the formula contains no sulfates, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavours, no colourants and no peroxide, making it better for you and the environment.

But when it came to whitening how did it fare? Well, we found that this smooth paste, that’s a little sticky compared with traditional toothpastes (we never lost any in the sink which we appreciated), did a good job on removing new surface stains. However, the calcium mineral blend used to naturally whiten the teeth in this formula didn’t make much of a dent on older stains. But teeth felt clean, had a nice shine to them and the farm grown peppermint offered that fresh breath sensation and banished bad breath for hours.

Buy now £6.99, Superdrug.com

Corsodyl complete protection toothpaste whitening

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This toothpaste has a medicinal taste to it, which meant we didn’t get that traditional minty fresh breath we’ve come to associate with clean teeth. However, it does offer a clean feeling and our teeth definitely looked whiter after prolonged use. When it came to addressing sensitivity, we were surprised that this paste was able to lift stains as well as it did without irritating our gums, and it helped reduce inflammation that we’d developed after testing other toothpastes. We also noticed less tooth sensitivity too, and we attribute this to the fact that this toothpaste claims to strengthen enamel which protects the more sensitive inner tooth.

Buy now £4.50, Boots.com

Arm & Hammer advanced white pro

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Minty yet mild, we found this easy to use, and while it contains baking soda – a mild abrasive that removes surface stains – it doesn’t feel grainy. It doesn’t foam up as much as other toothpastes we’ve used, but you definitely feel like you’ve had a good clean. We noticed our teeth looked a little whiter after a couple of weeks, but they also looked really shiny and bright too. As a bonus we experienced absolutely no sensitivity issues when testing this toothpaste and we were really impressed by how well it removed plaque around the gumline.

Buy now £1.75, Boots.com

Hismile PAP+ whitening toothpaste

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For maximum whiteness, abrasives alongside teeth bleaching peroxide are generally used to get teeth as white as possible. But, Hismile uses phthalimidoperoxycaproicacid (PAP), rather than peroxides, to give a gentler – but still noticeable – whitening effect. And we definitely noticed how much gentler this was than other peroxide-based toothpastes we tried.

Sensitive gums, bleeding or tooth sensitivity were all conditions that can often result from heavy duty whitening products, even toothpastes, and with this we didn’t experience any of these side effects. We were pretty surprised because this non-foaming iridescent serum like toothpaste effectively removed stains in as little as a few days.

But while we were impressed by its whitening prowess, we did think it lacked a fresh minty taste, was tricky to squeeze out of its tube and its runny nature meant we found we over-served ourselves on occasion – oops.

Buy now £11.00, Hismileteeth.com

Pärla pro plastic-free toothpaste tabs

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After a lifetime of brushing with traditional paste formulas, switching to tabs took some getting used to. These dentist formulated eco-friendly packaged tablets need to be chewed for five seconds before you start brushing, which means we had to do a little brain training to stop our natural inclination to swallow post chewing. We also had to remember not to rinse our mouths after brushing too, as each tab contains B12 and vitamin E. These are vital to maintaining healthy gums, as well as a healthy immune system so rinsing the formula away is a no-no.

When it comes to stain removal this minty fresh, frothy formula contains hydroxyapatite, an exciting new mineral that’s the building block of natural enamel. It closes all the open pores in the teeth and in tandem with other whitening ingredients blocks stain formation, and adds a glossy shine to the teeth all while being incredibly gentle.

Buy now £8.00, Parlatoothpastetabs.com

Polished London ultra white LMD toothpaste

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A naturally minty flavour derived from wild mint and peppermint leaves, combined with hero deep cleanser sodium bicarbonate, and cavity fighter fluoride, make for a toothpaste we could get behind. It’s SLS free too, yet still foamed up nicely and we found that over the course of testing our teeth looked brighter and whiter too. The formula is vegan, cruelty free and pretty “clean”, and we found that there was no sensitivity from using this whitening paste either.

Our only gripe is that for the price we expected a little more innovation in terms of its formula – as while it did leave our teeth whiter it is pretty standard, mainly consisting of silica and sodium bicarbonate which only physically removes surface stains.

Buy now £11.99, Polishedlondon.com

Selahatin amorist whitening toothpaste

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This green mint, peppermint and menthol infused paste is one of the most lux toothpastes we’d ever seen. The tube aesthetic is minimalist and resembles more of a covetable face mask or hand cream. Not only did it elevate the look of our bathroom sink, the formula has a fair few ingredients you’d see in your skincare – which is not so surprising when you discover this is made in Switzerland, a skincare mecca.

Hydroxyapatite helped protect the outer layer of our teeth by preventing the breakdown of enamel, while anti-inflammatory actives helped boost gum health and Swiss flower edelweiss, a potent antioxidant, worked to balance bacteria. There’s even a moisturising amino acid to relieve dryness for good measure.

The question remains though, did it actually whiten our teeth? In short, yes. A mix of exfoliating and bleaching ingredients silica and sodium bicarbonate left our teeth around two shades lighter and a lot brighter.

Buy now £17.00, Johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Whitening toothpastes FAQs

How does whitening toothpaste work?

When it comes to teeth whitening at home, brands use a variety of ingredients. Charcoal is popular, which draws out impurities from the enamel, the outer layer of your teeth, while some use abrasives to dissolve stains. Another common whitening ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which whitens teeth by bleaching, and silica, which can remove surface stains.

It can take several weeks to see a difference with regular use, so consistency is key for white, brighter teeth. You can also help maintain your teeth’s whiteness by avoiding coffee, red wine, beetroot, and blueberries.

Is whitening toothpaste safe?

If you’re using a surface stain removal toothpaste that contains abrasives to dissolve stains, it can weaken your enamel, in which case it’s always a good idea to also use an enamel-strengthening toothpaste. The healthier your enamel is, the better chance you have at protecting teeth from stains.

Most whitening toothpaste is designed for use every day, unless specified on the instructions otherwise, but if you have particularly sensitive teeth, it is often recommended to alternate with your regular toothpaste.

The verdict: Whitening toothpaste

It’s best to be realistic about how white your teeth will really get when using a whitening toothpaste alone. If you smoke, and/or eat and drink a lot of teeth staining ingredients then you may have decades of stains that toothpaste alone can’t fix. Plus, social media filters and the prevalence of veneers and bonding may have also skewed your idea of how white natural teeth can really get. But as long as you keep all this in mind, we think, like us, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much of a difference switching to a tooth whitening toothpaste can make.

We couldn’t believe how effective the Pearl Drops strong polished white toothpaste was at removing stains that no other toothpaste had been able to. And we appreciated that the formula stuck to a traditional minty taste that left us with fresh breath, making it our favourite overall.

If a toothpaste just won’t cut it, read our review of the best teeth whitening kits

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