Looking for a whitening toothpaste, then get sidetracked by the enamel offerings instead? You’re not alone! If you’ve been left pondering the best toothpastes in the pharmacy aisle, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know. From whitening and stain removal to plaque-busting and sensitive numbers, we round-up the best toothpastes on the market, and what the differences are between them.
Whether you opt for whitening or enamel protection, the role of toothpaste is always — and has always been — to remove plaque and prevent cavities. No matter what formula you pick, when it comes to toothpaste, if you’re brushing twice a day, your pearly whites will always be kept sparkling clean and cavity-free.
But with SO many different options out there, how do you know which one to pick? Choosing a toothpaste can, quite honestly at times, be as painful as a bikini wax.
Pharmacy shelves are stacked with every formula under the sun — cavity protection, tooth whitening, tartar control, gum health, gel or paste….. the list goes on and on and on….
But is there really a difference? Here’s everything you need to know.
What’s in toothpaste?
Toothpaste has two key ingredients — fluoride and a mild abrasive, bound together with thickeners, sweeteners, stabilisers and flavours. And they usually come in either either a gel or paste formula.
According to dentists, the most important ingredient to look for when it comes to choosing toothpaste, is that it must contain fluoride. Fluoride is an effective antibacterial agent that not only cleans your teeth, it helps to remineralise the tooth enamel (i.e. makes the teeth harder and stronger) from the damage that’s been caused throughout the day from eating and drinking, to prevent sensitivity and tooth decay.
Abrasives work a little differently to fluoride, and whilst the abrasives in toothpaste can vary – such as calcium carbonate and hydrated silica gels – they essentially all do the same thing: polish your teeth, dislodge particles of food caught between them, and remove dental plaque and stains from tooth enamel.
So what do all the other toothpastes do?
As we’ve established, the role of toothpaste is essentially to clean teeth, remove plaque and prevent cavities. So most toothpastes essentially fulfil the same role, because the majority of the time, they all contain the same ingredients. Having said that, toothpastes cater to different niche markets, so they do come with an array of different features.
Whitening toothpastes, for example, just have a larger abrasive to remove plaque and stains. Anti-cavity toothpaste is just a fancy way of saying it has fluoride in it.
For sensitive teeth, you should look for toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate as an active ingredient. This helps prevent the nerves in your teeth from sending pain signals—triggered by certain stimuli, like hot coffee or ice water—to your brain, so your teeth become less sensitive.
Natural toothpastes are typically fluoride-free, which according to dentists is a big no-no. This is because they’re lacking the key ingredient that prevents cavities, so by using natural alternatives, you’re at risk of damaging your tooth enamel. If you want to opt for an eco-friendly toothpaste, opt for one that still contains fluoride.
Here’s our pick of the best toothpastes for all tooth concerns.
Whitening and Stain Removal
Teeth whitening toothpastes actually work in the same way to normal toothpastes. They contain mild abrasives that remove surface stains and gently polish the teeth, making teeth appear whiter. But the whitening result is actually from stain removal, rather than dental whitening that might use a bleach, for example, to change the colour of the teeth.
Some whitening toothpastes might also contain peroxide or other chemicals that help break down or dissolve stains, without the aid of a bleaching agent. Be careful of whitening toothpastes that contain additional abrasives as these can harm your tooth enamel.
Here are our top picks below:
Colgate Vibrant Clean Whitening Toothpaste
A daily anti-cavity fluoride toothpaste that contains 3% hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth and remove 10 years of yellow stains.
Pearl Drops Pro-White Toothpaste
This concentrated maximum strength whitening toothpaste contains “Perlite”, the same whitening ingredient used by dentists to clean and polish teeth. The formula helps to remove and prevent stains caused by smoking, coffee, tea and red wine.
Teeth will be up to 4 shades whiter teeth in 3 weeks.Shop Now
iWhite Dark Stains Toothpaste
This fluoride whitening toothpaste works to strengthen and remineralise your teeth, whilst the triple-action whitening and charcoal restores your teeth’s natural whiteness. It also removes and prevents further tooth staining from the likes of coffee, tea, tobacco and wine.
Sensitivity in teeth is caused by receding gums, and/or when the enamel of your teeth erodes away. When your enamel erodes, pores in your teeth become exposed, so when your teeth make contact with something hot, cold or sweet, the sensations will travel through the pores and into your tooth’s nerves, causing you pain.
While you unfortunately can’t build back enamel after it’s been lost, sensitive toothpaste can cover up the pores in your teeth and numb your gum lines to prevent any sensitivity. You should look for toothpastes containing potassium nitrate, as this works to soothe the nerves inside your teeth, preventing them from sending pain signals from triggers like cold air or hot coffee.
Here are our top picks:
Sensodyne Deep Clean Sensitive Toothpaste
This fluoride toothpaste is specially formulated with potassium nitrate to soothe nerve pain, and provide daily care for sensitive teeth.
Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Enamel Repair Sensitive Teeth Pain Toothpaste
Clinically proven to provide instant and lasting relief for sensitive teeth. Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Enamel Repair contains ProArgin formula, which remineralises tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant against repeated acid attacks, whilst at the same time blocking the exposed channels from damaged enamel, which can lead to sensitive tooth nerves.
Tartar and Enamel Protection
Tartar is the build-up of hardened plaque, which is the main cause of gum disease. Regular brushing can help to minimise the build-up, but tartar can only be properly removed by a dentist. Most fluoride-based toothpastes will reduce the amount of tartar build-up, providing you use a good toothbrush (electric toothbrushes are generally better at plaque removal than normal toothbrushes) and make sure you brush and floss regularly (for two minutes at least two times per day).
Colgate Total Charcoal Antibacterial Fluoride Toothpaste
Designed with an active cleaning formula that fights plaque in between teeth and hard to reach spaces, this fluoride antibacterial toothpaste fights bacteria not just on teeth, but also your tongue, cheeks and gums for 12 hours, whilst also providing protection against plaque, stains, tartar and cavities.
Curasept ADS 705 Toothpaste
This alcohol-free, fluoride gel toothpaste prevents plaque build-up, abrasion and irritation, whilst also providing soothing relief for gums, teeth and tissue.
If you want to go chemical-free (the main culprit to look for is SLS — sodium lauryl sulfate) there are some great natural alternatives available. Just make sure that they still contain fluoride, to ensure your teeth are kept clean, strengthened and bacteria-free. Without it your teeth could become weak and more at risk of decay.
The Humble Co. Natural Toothpaste Fresh Mint
This SLS, eco- and cruelty-free toothpaste is formulated by a dentist, so you know you’re in safe hands. Natural and eco-friendly, this formula also contains fluoride to prevent cavities, bleeding gums, bad breath, plaque and tooth loss. It’s also infused with natural essential oils for fresh breath, and a recyclable tube that’s made from Albea Greenleaf, so it has less environmental impact.
Children's toothpastes are generally sugar-free, and include fluoride and abrasives just like toothpastes for adults. But the one important thing to remember is that most kids swallow a lot of paste, so it’s recommended that you choose a low-fluoride formula for children aged 18 months to six years.
Jack N' Jill Natural Toothpaste Flavour Free
This natural, flavour-free toothpaste has no artificial preservatives, and is free from fluoride, sugar, colour, SLS, parabens, gluten, BPA, so it’s safe for little ones to swallow (just in case!).
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