Types of Toothpaste
According to dentists, the best toothpaste protects teeth from cavities, softened enamel and plaque, which hardens into tartar if not removed at least every 24 hours. Tartar -- also known as calculus -- builds up and makes teeth and gums susceptible to decay. This leads to gingivitis, which can develop into serious periodontal disease. Users have slightly different priorities, generally looking for toothpaste with a palatable flavor, good consistency (neither too runny nor too hard) and a pleasant texture. People also seek a clean, fresh feeling -- and appearance -- after brushing.
This type of toothpaste aims to brighten teeth, but the majority simply remove surface stains rather than changing the underlying color. Still, these products are good for people with coffee-, wine- or tobacco-stained teeth -- or for those who want to maintain the whiteness of their teeth after using teeth whitening products, like whitening strips, or receiving professional treatment. These toothpastes are usually "all-in-one" and are designed to fight plaque while whitening. Most major toothpaste makers also produce a separate whitening mouthwash to use in conjunction with your toothpaste.
This type of toothpaste is designed to alleviate tooth and gum sensitivity by building up the user's resistance using a chemical anti-sensitivity agent like potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. Some users only need to use a sensitive toothpaste for a few months -- such as after using a whitening product like strips -- while others need to use it long-term to keep ongoing sensitivity at bay. However, sensitive toothpaste has a cumulative effect, so they are most effective when used consistently for twice-daily brushing.
These are preferred by some people who are sensitive to fluoride or simply prefer to avoid fluoride-containing products. Although there are a number of fluoride-free options that fight plaque and freshen breath, no fluoride-free toothpastes are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA), as fluoride is considered the gold standard among experts for cavity prevention. Fluoride-free toothpastes often contain xylitol, an ingredient derived from birch trees or corn, zinc, and natural extracts from roots, leaves or fruit.
Toothpaste isn't heavily regulated, but some are evaluated by the
There is no agency that regulates
toothpaste, but some toothpastes earn the ADA (American Dental Association)
Seal of Acceptance. This means that the product inside has been scientifically
evaluated to be safe and effective. The ADA does not give its seal to
fluoride-free products, but just because a product does not have the ADA seal,
that does not mean it's not a safe, effective toothpaste. To help you find the
best products for all your dental health needs, we also cover teeth whitening products and electric toothbrushes in separate reports.
Finding The Best Toothpaste
"The Best Toothpaste"
We found expert reviews recommending
the best toothpaste for different purposes – such as whitening toothpaste
and toothpaste for sensitivity -- at Reviews.com, David Evans, DDS, Real Simple
and Men's Health. Refinery29 and Business Insider also recommend the best
toothpaste for different needs, such as whitening and tooth sensitivity, based
on input from dental professionals. For natural toothpaste, GoodGuide provides
impartial ratings for ingredients, health and environmental risks, and other
considerations important to users who prefer a natural alternative to
However, because the factors that make
one toothpaste better than another are largely subjective, we relied heavily on
user opinions from sites like Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens and TotalBeauty, where
we found thousands of user reviews offering feedback on the taste and
performance of different toothpastes. We combine expert and user feedback to
come up with our recommendations for the best toothpaste overall, as well as
the best whitening toothpaste, sensitive toothpaste and fluoride-free
The best toothpaste
For those looking for an
effective, all-around general-purpose toothpaste, (Est. $6) earns
accolades from experts and users alike. Editors at Reviews.com name Crest
Pro-Health the best all-around toothpaste, calling it "a multi-purpose
toothpaste good for those with no specific dental issues." It's the only
toothpaste line they found that contains stannous fluoride (rather than the
more commonly used sodium fluoride), which "doubles as an antibacterial agent,
allowing Crest Pro-Health to target plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath on top
of tooth decay." And according to editors at Men's Health, it's the only
toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association in seven categories.
Crest ProHealth comes in
several formulations, including Advanced Deep Clean Mint, Advanced Gum
Protection, Advanced Active Strengthening, Smooth Peppermint, Sensitive &
Enamel Shield, Whitening Power and Advanced Whitening Power, Clean Mint and
several options for children. The Sensitive Shield formulation earns a nod from
Real Simple's Sarah Smith, who says it "forms an imperceptible barrier around
teeth to calm delicate nerves that are agitated by pain triggers, like hot and
Among hundreds of users
posting feedback to sites like Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens, most say Crest
ProHealth tastes great and leaves their mouths feeling fresh and clean,
producing just the right amount of foaminess to last through a full brushing.
Many users say that Crest ProHealth doesn't make their teeth sensitive like
other toothpaste. However, there is an exception: Some users find the Advanced
Deep Clean Mint formulation too strong, and a few say it actually makes their
teeth more sensitive to hot and cold. We also read some complaints from users
who say that toothpaste tends to build up around the top, making the flip-top
lid difficult to close and the toothpaste messy to use as a result. Overall,
though, most users are pleased with the performance of the various Crest
For a dependable
toothpaste that provides lasting fresh breath protection, take a look at (Est. $4). It comes in several different formulations:
Daily Repair, Advanced Whitening, Advanced Deep Clean, Advanced Clean
In-Between, Advanced Fresh + Whitening, Clean Mint, Fresh Mint Stripe Gel and
Colgate Total is accepted
by the American Dental Association (ADA) and contains both fluoride and
triclosan -- a broad-spectrum antibiotic -- to kill bacteria that cause
cavities and gum disease. A copolymer allows the triclosan to remain active
between brushings, even after you eat or drink.
While user reviews are
actually more positive for Colgate Total compared to Crest ProHealth, concerns
about triclosan may be problematic for some -- and that ingredient is why we
dropped it from our top spot this year. There's been controversy surrounding
triclosan for several years now -- some scientific findings claim it can act as
an endocrine disruptor in animals, and possibly in fetuses. In December 2017,
the FDA banned the sale of soaps and body washes that contain triclosan or
23 other active ingredients (without a premarket review), according to Consumer Reports, "because manufacturers haven't proved that they're safe for
long-term daily use and more effective than regular soap and water for
controlling certain infections."
However, toothpaste is not
included in the ban, nor are other products such as cosmetics, cleaning
products and even athletic clothing. Both Colgate and the FDA maintain that the
antibacterial agent is a beneficial ingredient in toothpaste and extremely
effective in reducing plaque and preventing gingivitis. Colgate Total is not
recommended for kids under 6, as its antibacterial properties have not been
tested for young children. It's moderately abrasive and contains sodium lauryl
sulfate, which can sometimes irritate sensitive mouths.
Real Simple names Colgate
Total its Best Overall Toothpaste in a roundup of several oral care products,
citing its germ-fighting capabilities. Specifically, the review mentions
Colgate Total Enamel Strength, which is now called Colgate Total Daily Repair.
This formulation aims to strengthen teeth by re-mineralizing weakened enamel. Colgate
Total Daily Repair is also named the best toothpaste for mouth health by
editors at Men's Health, who base their recommendations on feedback from a
panel of dentists, and Dr. David Evans, DDS calls it "a great all-around
toothpaste for most patients."
Hundreds of user reviewers
are very enthusiastic about Colgate Total's pleasant taste and good cleaning
power. Some say the Whitening formula doesn't do all that much in terms of
whitening teeth, but generally, the majority of Colgate Total users seem to
love it as their go-to daily toothpaste.
Another toothpaste that
gets rave reviews from hundreds of users is (Est. $4), which reviewers say is what they consider "classic
Crest" -- a basic, all-around toothpaste that fights plaque and prevents
cavities without the frills like mouthwash and fancy flavors. It's a paste, not
a gel formulation, and while it does have a traditional mint flavor, users say
it's just right -- not too overpowering.
Reviewers say Crest Cavity
Protection is gentle and won't aggravate tooth sensitivity, yet it still
provides long-lasting fresh breath. Crest Cavity Protection earns the ADA Seal
of Acceptance, and it can also be used by children under the age of 6 (with
supervision and in pea-sized amounts to minimize swallowing). Users also
appreciate the standard screw-on cap, which is less messy than flip-top lids.
Best whitening toothpaste
If your smile could use a
little brightening, (Est. $4) is a popular
choice. It claims to remove 95 percent of surface stains in just three days
when used as directed. Crest 3D White doesn't actually whiten teeth -- instead,
it removes stains with a polishing silica ingredient. Like all the other
products we've discussed, Crest 3D White contains fluoride, so regardless of
its whitening abilities, it'll give you an anti-cavity benefit with daily use. It
also earns a nod from Refinery29, where Victoria Veytsman, DDS, a New
York-based dentist, says it's her go-to toothpaste and says she has noticeably
brighter teeth after using Crest 3D White.
Crest 3D White has earned hundreds
of customer reviews across Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens, the vast majority of
which are positive. Users say the product is an especially good choice for
maintaining teeth that have already been professionally whitened. The minty
taste is also a big hit, and users say it offers long-lasting fresh breath. A
few people report some sensitivity after continued use of this toothpaste -- a
common effect of whitening products -- especially when used in conjunction with
other Crest 3D White products such as the whitening strips.
(Est. $4), part of the Colgate Total
line discussed above, is also a user favorite among whitening toothpastes. Like
other toothpaste in the Colgate Total lineup, it does contain triclosan, which
some consumers may opt to avoid. For those who don't mind the triclosan, which
we discuss above, Colgate Total Whitening fights germs for up to 12 hours after
brushing and helps to prevent cavities, plaque, tartar buildup and gingivitis.
Reviewers on sites like
Amazon, Walgreens and Walmart say that it's effective at removing and
preventing surface stains from coffee, tea and tobacco and has a pleasant minty
taste that's not too strong. Some users say that beyond removing stains, they
don't notice a true whitening effect after using this toothpaste. Others,
however, point out that a whitening toothpaste alone shouldn't be expected to
actually lighten teeth by several shades, and say it does what you'd expect
from a whitening toothpaste while also freshening breath and leaving their
teeth feeling squeaky clean.
Both Refinery29 and
Business Insider recommend (Est. $3) after
consulting with cosmetic dentists and other dental professionals. It contains
baking soda to gently remove plaque and surface stains, peroxide to combat
deeper, set-in stains, and Arm & Hammer's Stain Defense technology to help
prevent new stains from forming.
Arm & Hammer Advance
White Extreme Whitening doesn't have the ADA Seal of Acceptance, but it does
earn rave reviews from hundreds of users who say it leaves their teeth feeling
cleaner compared to other toothpaste. Most say it has a pleasant minty flavor,
although some reviewers say that the baking soda creates an unusual, slightly
salty taste and less-than-smooth texture that takes a little getting used to.
That said, the majority of users say it leaves their teeth looking polished,
shiny and noticeably whiter.
If you want whiter teeth
and fresh breath that lasts all day, (Est. $6) tackles
both concerns. It claims to visibly whiten teeth after a single tube, while
also protecting against cavities, preventing tartar buildup and removing surface
stains -- and it promises to keep breath feeling fresh up to five times longer
compared to other toothpaste.
Among thousands of reviews
across Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens, some say that Crest Complete Multi
Benefit Scope Outlast can feel overpowering at first, especially after
switching from a milder toothpaste, but most users get used to the intensity
after a week or so. Because it contains Scope, reviewers say they don't feel
like they skipped a step in their morning routine if they don't have time to
use a separate mouthwash.
As with most whitening
toothpaste, opinions are mixed on how well Crest Complete Multi Benefit Scope
Outlast whitens teeth. Some users say they notice whiter teeth within the first
week, while others have noticed little whitening effects. Most who haven't
noticed dramatic whitening effects still say this toothpaste leaves their teeth
feeling incredibly clean and their breath fresh all day. Many reviewers mention
this toothpaste's Sugar Shield technology, which protects teeth from the
effects of sugar found in many foods. It's worth noting, however, that many
reviewers note that they received a tube of this toothpaste free in exchange
for a review.
If whitening toothpaste
alone doesn't cut it, consider adding a whitening mouthwash to your daily
regimen, such as (Est. $6), which is part of the Crest 3D White
lineup of teeth whitening products. It can be used in conjunction with whitening toothpaste or ordinary
toothpaste, although most users pair it with the Crest 3D White line of
toothpaste. Crest 3D White mouthwash comes in five formulations including Luxe
Diamond Strong, Luxe Glamorous White Multi-Care, Luxe Arctic Fresh Multi-Care,
Vivid White and White Brilliance.
All five formulations
promise to whiten teeth. The Luxe Diamond Strong formulation also promises to
strengthen weakened tooth enamel, and both Multi-Care formulations and the
Vivid White formulation not only remove surface stains but also protect against
the formation of future stains. White Brilliance is an alcohol- and
peroxide-free formula that promises a whiter smile in seven days when used as
directed along with brushing to remove surface stains.
We read hundreds of user
reviews for Crest 3D White's whitening mouthwash, most of which are positive.
Some say the flavor is too sweet, while others appreciate that it doesn't have
an overpowering minty or medicinal taste. Opinions are mixed on the whitening
effect; while some say they do notice a difference after several weeks of use,
a few users point out that their teeth returned to their prior shade after they
stopped using this mouthwash. Most reviewers who report noticeably whiter teeth
say they use Crest 3D White mouthwash along with other products from the Crest
3D White lineup.