“The stains most commonly addressed through whitening toothpaste are extrinsic stains also known as surface-level coffee, tea, or wine stains appearing on the outer surfaces of the teeth,” said Ghaznia Khan, DDS, a cosmetic dentist at Fort Worth Dentist.“Intrinsic stains are caused by medications or appear as natural gray or yellow hues of the tooth. These cannot be removed by whitening toothpaste.” For stains that go beyond the surface, Dr. Khan recommends seeing a dentist to help determine the best treatment for you.
But if you’re looking to just brighten your overall smile, you’ll find two categories of whitening toothpaste on the market. They either contain enamel-safe abrasives to help remove more surface plaque and tartar, or ones that contain peroxide or bleach that dissolve stains. “My personal favorites contain peroxide-based solutions for a stronger stain-fighting effect,” said Dr. Khan.
And if you’re someone who has sensitive teeth, or has struggled in the past to use whitening toothpaste, Joyce Kahng, DDS, cosmetic dentist and owner at Orange and Magnolia Dental Studio says that you might want to avoid whitening toothpaste altogether because of their high abrasivity level. “The key to toothpaste is to find a happy medium,” she said. “We do want some abrasives in there to help clean, but we do not want it to be overly abrasive either. I like to stick in the low to medium abrasivity range on the Relative Dentin Abrasivity Scale.”
So, if you’re curious about what dentists recommend to their patients, we asked Dr. Khan and Dr. Kahng about their favorite and most effective whitening toothpastes. Here’s what they had to say.
8 dentist-approved whitening toothpastes to consider
Few toothpaste brands are more recognizable than Colgate, and dentists agree you can’t go wrong with using any product from their line-up. But Dr. Khan recommends their optic white pro toothpaste because it contains hydrogen peroxide and abrasives to get at those surface stains. It’s also made with 0.454 percent antimicrobial stannous fluoride, which studies say helps fight against gingivitis, plaque, and tooth sensitivity.
If you’re looking to brighten your smile with a system dentists use in their offices, Dr. Khan recommends Opalescence whitening toothpaste. Developed by a dentist, their vegan, gluten-free formula is less abrasive than other whitening toothpaste and promises to brighten your smile by two shades in four weeks.
This low-abrasion tooth gel is on the pricey side, but Dr. Kahng recommends this to patients who are looking to get rid of deep stains without in-office whitening treatments. It provides anti-cavity benefits and uses its unique, patented pH+ technology to neutralize acids.
Crest 3D white strips are a great at-home whitening system, but if you’re looking to keep your teeth pearly white on the regular, Dr. Khan recommends their white brilliance toothpaste. The enamel-safe foam that is activated as soon as you start brushing gets into those hard-to-reach places in your mouth, and can remove tough stains in as little as five days.
Both Dr. Khan and Dr. Kahng recommend Arm and Hammer Advanced White because it uses the natural power of baking soda to neutralize acids that can weaken and erode the enamel on your teeth. And the toothpaste promises to prevent new stains from forming.
If you struggle with sensitive teeth and find that some whitening toothpaste or treatments are too harsh, Dr. Khan recommends Sensodyne Extra Whitening. The toothpaste contains sodium tripolyphosphate, which gently lifts and helps prevent surface tooth stains from forming. And like all Sensodyne products it contains potassium nitrate, which helps relieve sensitivity by soothing the nerves inside your teeth, so you can enjoy your favorite foods and still keep your pearly whites.
If you’re looking for a more natural and gentle option to maintain your oral hygiene, Tom’s of Maine product line is a great place to start. Dr. Khan recommends Simply White toothpaste because it uses naturally-derived hydrated silica instead of hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.
If you’re someone who tends to brush a little hard, Dr. Kahng recommends Arm and Hammer Peroxicare Healthy Gums. It not only whitens teeth with its baking soda formula, but it also helps strengthen gums and remove built-up plaque along the gum line that can lead to hard-to-remove stains.
Of course, if you’re not sure which whitening toothpaste is best for you, it’s always best to reach out to your dentist for a personalized recommendation.
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