8 best toothpastes for every concern: From whitening to treating sensitivity

Pippa Bailey
·7-min read
<p>The most important ingredient to look out for in your toothpaste is fluoride</p> (iStock/The Independent)

The most important ingredient to look out for in your toothpaste is fluoride

(iStock/The Independent)

Your average high street chemist will stock an array of different toothpastes – targeting everything from sensitivity to whitening to gum disease – the majority of which are very difficult to determine actual differences between.

But dentists agree that the most important thing is for your toothpaste to contain fluoride, which prevents decay. A concentration of around 1,450ppmF (parts per million of fluoride) is fairly standard for over-the-counter toothpastes in the UK, but do check to be sure. And remember, children’s formulas will contain lower levels.

Your toothpaste may also contain abrasives, such as silica or calcium carbonate, which clean and polish the teeth. It may also contain humectants, such as sorbitol or glycerin to keep your toothpaste wet; whiteners, such as hydrogen peroxide or optic brighteners; and sensitivity-beating ingredients such as stannous fluoride or potassium nitrate.

It’s worth getting familiar with the ingredients list on tubes of toothpastes, as some more expensive ones make big claims but have near-identical ingredients to far cheaper brands.

Toothpastes traditionally come in tubes that are a composite of aluminium and plastic, meaning your average rubbish collection service can’t recycle them – an estimated 1.5 billion single-use toothpaste tubes are thrown away globally each year.

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However, some brands do offer recycling if you post them your empties, or you can choose one of our plastic-free and/or recyclable options below.

If you’re vegan or concerned about animal cruelty, it’s worth noting that not all toothpastes are vegan, as some contain animal-derived glycerin or bee-derived propolis, so be sure to check the brand’s claims for each tube.

Whether your concerns are sensitivity, whitening, enamel restoration, reducing single-use plastics in your home, or simply achieving a reliably healthy smile without spending a fortune, our round-up contains the toothpaste for you.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.

Oral-B pro expert professional protection toothpaste

Best for: All-round healthy teeth on a budget

Oral-B’s pro expert toothpastes contain a stannous fluoride complex, which forms a shield around your teeth so they’re more resistant to future damage, as well as protecting against cavities and removing plaque. It has a gritty texture that’s more abrasive than some, but it leaves teeth feeling smooth and clean, while the mint flavour is quite light, so it’s a good choice for those who find other formulas burningly minty. A very affordable option for reliable, all-round cleaning and tooth health.

Buy now £3.99, Superdrug.com

Regenerate enamel science advanced toothpaste

Best for: Enamel restoration

Although it’s not possible to replace enamel that is entirely eroded, Regenerate’s toothpaste helps to remineralise and harden enamel in areas where it’s been damaged. It does this with its clinically proven “NR-5 technology”, creating brighter-looking, stronger teeth that are better protected against staining. This will help anyone who has an erosive diet, drinks fizzy drinks or brushes their teeth too soon after meals, as well as those experiencing sensitivity after tooth whitening, or those who simply want a brighter, healthier smile.

Buy now £10.00, Lookfantastic.com

Happier Beauty happier toothpaste

Best for: Recyclable tube

We love this toothpaste for its entirely and readily recyclable aluminium tube. The formula doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which is often used to create a foaming effect, or artificial sweeteners or flavours, while it’s also vegan and cruelty free. Itdoes, however, contain the all-important fluoride, as well as silica for abrasion, potassium citrate for sensitivity, hydroxyapatite to strengthen enamel – this is the mineral used by your body to make teeth and bones – and a papaya enzyme to help prevent staining. It tastes, feels and works just like your standard toothpaste, only without the plastic packaging.

Buy now £12.00, Happierbeauty.com

Spotlight Oral Care toothpaste for whitening teeth

Best for: Gentle whitening

This contains the classic whitening ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, which works to reduce the appearance of extrinsic staining such as that caused by coffee or red wine. The amount of this is only small, as the UK legal limit is 0.1 per cent in toothpastes, while professional whitening can offer up to six per cent. It also features everything you need for healthy teeth, such as fluoride and silica, and a classic minty taste, and we love that its tube looks more like skincare than toothpaste.

Buy now £9.50, Spotlightoralcare.com

Colgate smile for good whitening toothpaste

Best for: An eco-friendly option from a known brand

If you want to do your bit to reduce single-use plastics in your home, but you also want to entrust your dental health to a well-known brand, Colgate’s “smile for good” formula is vegan and comes packaged in recyclable plastic. It also contains all the ingredients you expect from a standard toothpaste – fluoride, silica, glycerin etc – so the clean is just as good as your current toothpaste.

Buy now £3.33, Boots.com

Corsodyl ultra clean gum care toothpaste

Best for: Gum damage

A build-up of plaque along the gum line can lead to irritation and bleeding, and Corsodyl’s gum care tackles this by including sodium bicarbonate in its formula. This breaks down plaque making it easier to remove, even in tight and hard-to-reach areas such as around the gum. It leaves teeth feeling smooth and looking bright and clean, and has the classic minty taste. It should be noted that bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease, so do speak to your dentist if it occurs regularly.

Buy now £3.50, Sainsburys.co.uk

Sensodyne daily care deep clean gel toothpaste

Best for: Sensitivity

Sensodyne has long been the high street’s best offering for sensitive teeth, whether exposed dentine has you struggling with cups of tea, ice cream or even just a cold wind outside. This formula uses potassium nitrate, which builds up to desensitise nerves with a couple of weeks’ regular use. If you want more immediate relief though, look for a formula that contains stannous fluoride. Sensodyne’s toothpastes taste a little different to our usual minty fresh ones, so it took us a while to get used to it, but the difference it makes to sensitivity is undeniable.

Buy now £3.50, Boots.com

The White Teeth Box toothpaste tablets

Best for: Plastic-free

Eco options for personal care are harder to embrace for toothpaste than they are for, say, washing your hair, as many don’t contain the ingredients dentists say are essential for preventing decay – fluoride primarily. The White Teeth Box’s toothpaste tabs, however, do contain fluoride, so are a great eco option. It is worth noting though that most research is done using traditional formulas, so there’s no guarantee tabs offer the same protection. It takes a while to get used to chewing a tab and brushing with a bare brush, but they leave teeth feeling clean and fresh. Plus, £11 gets you a month’s supply in a storage tin as well as a refill of two months’ worth.

Buy now £4.95, Wearthlondon.com

The verdict: Toothpastes

Which toothpaste you go for will ultimately depend on your specific concerns, and how much you’re willing to spend. Oral-B’s pro expert professional protection toothpaste is our best buy for its deep, reliable clean and high street price. Regenerate’s enamel-repairing formula is our favourite if you’re prepared to spend a little more, but if recyclable packaging is a concern, we love both Happier and Colgate.

We compared the Oral-B iO7 and Oral-B iO9 to find out: Which smart electric toothbrush is best?