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Best Whitening Toothpaste That Is Safe for Your Teeth

A dentist tells us which toothpastes whiten, without hurting your choppers.

Pretty much everyone wants white teeth. We don’t blame you. A killer smile is just killer. End of.

If you’re worried about stained teeth, there’s only one truly effective method: Prevention. This is especially important for coffee and tea drinkers. “Brush your teeth or rinse with water right after and spit it out to get the residual coffee or tea out,” says Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, “ideally before it can sit on your teeth.”

If you’re not quite as disciplined, there are teeth-whitening toothpastes. The problem is the more effective these are, the more likely they’re damaging to your teeth. “From a whitening standpoint, the toothpaste works on the surface of the teeth. It can lighten the color of the teeth by removing stains from foods and coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that. Some of them contain a small amount of peroxide chemicals but the exposure time with normal toothbrushing to that is relatively low,” says Hewlett.

Remember, toothpastes are different from whitening kits, which also work when used as directed.

As for charcoal? It’s best to avoid it. “There’s so much hype about charcoal,” says Hewlett. “There is scant, if any, evidence on the efficacy of charcoal in tooth whitening. There’s so much information that’s not accurate. It’s somewhat abrasive.”

The number one thing to look for in a whitening toothpaste is the ADA stamp of approval before you buy. “It has to meet a number of standards for efficacy and safety,” says Hewlett. In a nutshell, companies have to prove that their product lives up to all its promises before they can feature the seal on it. And that means every single toothpaste with the ADA seal has gone through extensive testing.

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“What makes it a whitening toothpaste is that they have some mild but safe abrasives other toothpastes don’t have, and a small amount of peroxide,” says Hewlett.

Here are the ADA-accepted whitening products we recommend. In the interest of transparency, we’ve listed each of the ADA-approved toothpastes (and one whitening device) with the ingredients in each one, taken directly from the ADA.

Safe and effective whitening toothpastes:

This whitening toothpaste is billed as being free from artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, flavors, fragrances, and other additives.

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.74% (0.15% w/v fluoride ion) for anticavity

Inactive Ingredients: Hydrated silica, water, sorbitol, glycerin, xylitol, sodium lauryl sulfate, peppermint oil and other natural flavors, xanthan gum, carrageenan

This whitening toothpaste uses naturally-sourced silica to help whiten the teeth.

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.24% (0.15% w/v fluoride ion) for anticavity

Inactive Ingredients: Hydrated silica, water, sorbitol, glycerin, xylitol, sodium lauryl sulfate, peppermint oil and other natural flavors, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, carrageenan, sodium hydroxide

This whitening toothpaste is flavored with essential oils.

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.243% (0.13% w/v fluoride ion)

Inactive Ingredients: ​Glycerin, water, hydrated silica, sodium cocoyl glutamate, cocamidopropyl betaine, flavor, xanthan gum, carrageenan, stevia rebaudiana extract, titanium dioxide

This whitening toothpaste claims to remove surface stains and whiten teeth more than three shades.

Active Ingredients: ​Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76% (0.13% w/v fluoride ion)

Inactive Ingredients: Propylene glycol, calcium pyrophosphate, glycerin, PEG/PEG-116/66 copolymer, PEG-12, PVP, silica, flavor, sodium lauryl sulfate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, hydrogen peroxide, disodium pyrophosphate, sodium saccharin, sucralose, BHT

This whitening toothpaste contains ActivClean Crystals for advanced stain prevention.

Active Ingredients: Stannous fluoride 0.454% (anticavity, antigingivitis, antisensitivity)

Inactive Ingredients: Glycerin, hydrated silica, sodium hexametaphosphate, propylene glycol, PEG-6, water, zinc lactate, trisodium phosphate, flavor, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium gluconate, carrageenan, sodium saccharin, polyethylene, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, blue 1 aluminum lake

This is another toothpaste for adults that's been found to be effective at helping whiten teeth.

Active Ingredients: Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76% (0.13% w/v fluoride ion)

Inactive Ingredients: ​Propylene glycol, calcium pyrophosphate, glycerin, PEG/PEG-116/66 copolymer, PEG-12, PVP, silica, flavor, sodium lauryl sulfate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, hydrogen peroxide, disodium pyrophosphate, sodium saccharin, sucralose, BHT

This whitening toothpaste promises to freshen breath for 12 hours.

Active Ingredients: Sodium fluoride 0.24% for anticavity, triclosan 0.30% for antigingivitis

Inactive Ingredients: Carrageenan, cellulose gum, D&C yellow no. 10, FD&C blue no. 1, flavor, glycerin, hydrated silica, propylene glycol, PVM/MA copolymer, sodium hydroxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium saccharin, sorbitol, water

This dental irrigator helps restore whiteness in four weeks by getting rid of hard-to-reach stains.

Pros: It’s compact, and  has a one-minute timer and 30-second pacer to make sure you get the maximum benefits of water flossing. Plus it has ten pressure settings, so you can work your way up to the highest one.

Cons: It’s loud.

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