15 Best Whitening Toothpastes to Brighten Your Smile Without Even Trying

When you’re looking for an easy way to brighten your smile, searching for the best whitening toothpastes on the market is a solid place to start. Toothpastes for whitening work to remove surface stains (more on what that actually means in a bit) by using special abrasive ingredients that gently polish the teeth and sometimes even by using chemicals that help break down stains to help teeth appear brighter. They might not be as effective on certain types of stains as at-home teeth-whitening kits, but when it comes to whitening products, the best whitening toothpaste is typically a more affordable, less time-consuming option that is simple to swap into your routine. Because, hey, you brush your teeth anyway, right?

All it takes is a stroll down the oral care aisle to see that there are a ton of options to choose from for whiter teeth, so how do you decide what is the best whitening toothpaste on the market for you? Some of it depends on personal preference, but there are a few important factors to keep in mind when choosing your next tube of teeth whitening toothpaste. Here’s what you need to know about whitening toothpastes and how to find the right one for you.

First, wait, do whitening toothpastes actually work?

Depends on what you mean by work, really. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), whitening toothpastes are effective at removing surface stains, also known as extrinsic stains, which is a kind of discoloration due to things like smoking, eating, and drinking, especially highly pigmented foods and drinks (think: wine, soda, and coffee).

However, teeth whitening toothpastes can’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth’s surface (the surface stains that go beyond the enamel are called intrinsic stains). Deep surface stains caused by factors like aging or long-term antibiotic use, as well as a few conditions that lead to teeth yellowing and bad breath, require more than whitening toothpaste. In those cases, for whiter teeth, you need to level up to bleaching through products like whitening kits and strips, which you can get over-the-counter, or professional whitening treatments through your dentist.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some teeth whitening toothpastes also contain the chemical blue covarine, which creates an optical illusion that can make teeth appear whiter by adhering to the surface of your teeth. In that way, they have an immediate effect, but the actual stain removal will depend on other ingredients and take a lot longer.

All told, whitening toothpaste can take from up to six weeks of twice-daily brushing to reduce surface stains and make teeth appear whiter. The key is consistency.

To help you decide which of the best whitening toothpastes out there is for you, we rounded up a mix of reviewer favorites and whitening toothpastes that mostly meet the standards of the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance, which means they’re considered safe and effective at removing surface stains. You’ll find a mix of teeth whitening products from best-selling brands, including Colgate, Tom’s of Maine, Crest, Arm & Hammer, Burst Oral Care, Rembrandt, and more from retailers like Amazon and Target. 

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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