With all the toothpaste brands on the market claiming to make teeth sparkling white, how can you know which is the best? Colgate and Crest offer over a dozen whiteners between them, and a myriad of other brands sell whitening toothpastes as well---Aim, Aquafresh, Bath & Body Works, Rembrandt, Tom's of Maine, and the list goes on. Consumer Reports and drugstore.com have done some of the work for you with a comparison study of toothpastes and with user reviews.
The 2006 Consumer Reports study researched 41 brands, concluding that Colgate Ultra Brite All In One Advanced Whitening toothpaste came out on top. The product was the only one which provided any significant whitening benefit, particularly notable because of its inexpensive price---28 cents an ounce, about 10 times cheaper than the most expensive brand.
None of the toothpastes tested provided any dramatic results. Essentially, they were no better at whitening than regular toothpaste, despite their claims. Even the seven containing the bleaching agent peroxide, used in professional treatments, did not whiten any better than standard toothpaste. Ultra Brite does not contain peroxide. Whitening toothpastes also do not always clarify that their promise is to remove stains, not to lighten the actual color of a person's teeth.
Ultra Brite contains a tartar-control ingredient that sometimes causes sensitive teeth and also contains sodium lauryl sulfate, which can cause canker sores and gum irritation. The American Dental Association has not issued its seal of approval to Ultra Brite for cavity protection, although the paste does contain fluoride. Consumer Reports stated that none of the toothpastes were excessively abrasive, but some reviews express concern about that aspect of Ultra Brite and other whitening toothpastes.
Almost all all users at Drugstore.com who reviewed Ultra Brite gave the product four or five stars, commenting in particular how inexpensive it is and how well it works compared to more expensive brands. One reviewer questioned why users gave such high ratings to a product they admit does not provide dramatic whitening results.
The brand Consumer Reports rated highest overall was Colgate Total, with an antibacterial agent that prevents and helps heal the early-stage gum inflammation called gingivitis. Colgate Total also carries the ADA seal of approval for reducing plaque and preventing tooth decay. Considering that none of the whitening toothpastes Consumer Reports tested achieved any dramatic results over regular toothpaste, people may want to choose the all-around higher-rated brand instead.
All toothpaste is designed to scrub away plaque, the material which causes tooth decay and can eventually harden into yellowish tartar. Toothpastes which contain fluoride are the only ones which have the ADA seal of approval. Brushing with any ADA-recommended toothpaste at least twice a day, particularly after consuming stain-causing foods such as coffee, tea, or dark berries, goes a long way in keeping teeth white.