Clean, white teeth are a mark of success and beauty in our society and toothpaste companies make big money by selling us on their latest, greatest formula. We may want to look like the supermodel on the advert but with specialist toothpastes going from £4 - £20 a tube, we took a look at some of their claims and the ingredients they’re using to see what you’re actually getting for your money.


This is the big one, everyone wants a Hollywood smile and offering whitening is probably the fastest way to part you from your money. The bad news is that whitening toothpastes make this claim by including 0.1% Hydrogen Peroxide (this is the legal limit that can be offered without a dentist’s prescription).

Hydrogen Peroxide is an effective whitener but the 0.1% concentration is 60x less potent than the whitening gels used by dentists. When you consider that you’re only brushing for 2 minutes and dentists often recommend you soak your teeth in whitening gel overnight, that’s a huge difference in contact time! To put it bluntly, we wouldn’t pin our hopes on this stuff making our teeth noticeably whiter.

Temporary Whitening/Glow

Some toothpastes promote themselves as offering a “glow” or whitening effect for a set period after brushing. This is often done by including Blue Covarine, a semi-transparent blue pigment that coats the surface of the teeth and reflects light, giving the illusion of brighter, whiter teeth. The jury is out on how effective this actually is but the important thing to note is that it’s a temporary effect so it’ll wear off during the day.

Stain Removal – Abrasives

The simplest way to get rid of surface stains is to scrub them off and that’s what dental abrasives do. Common abrasives include charcoal, sodium bicarbonate, silica and calcium carbonate. These are all effective at removing surface stains but long-term use or brushing too hard could wear away at your teeth and cause damage or sensitivity problems down the line. If you’re partial to using these, you may want to keep a second, gentler toothpaste on the go and alternate between them to give your teeth a break!

Stain Removal – Fruit Extracts

Papain (papaya extract) and bromelain (pineapple extract) have been popping up in toothpastes more frequently, partly in line with the trend towards natural ingredients in our products. Both have been shown to remove significant amounts of surface staining as well as giving the appearance of slightly brighter teeth.

Stain Removal - Foam

The bubbly foam in your toothpaste is most likely caused by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), a detergent that dissolves grease and breaks down dirt. This is all good stuff but it can also irritate the soft tissues in your mouth so if you’re prone to ulcers and such you may want to switch to an SLS-free toothpaste.

The Takeaway: How to choose your toothpaste

The most important thing is to make sure your toothpaste contains 1400-1500ppm (parts per million) of fluoride. This will keep your teeth in tip top shape which is the number one priority. Aside from that, don’t be taken in by overblown claims of instant whitening. Manage your expectations and remember that while the best toothpastes can remove surface stains and make your teeth look brighter, changing the actual internal colour of your teeth will probably require professional whitening.

Where to brush for best results

Remember, even the best toothpaste won’t help if it’s not being used properly. Plaque build-up can be hard to spot so we recommend you use disclosing tablets to identify the hotspots for staining in your mouth. This will show you where to focus your brushing for maximum effect.

Simply chew one of our Dr Denti Disclosing Tablets after brushing, rinse, spit and check your teeth in the mirror. Old plaque will be coloured in blue and fresh plaque will be red, so you can brush again with full knowledge of where to focus and get rid of those stains before they become long-term problems.

Disclosing tablets are safe for adults and children alike and can be found at chemists and supermarkets around the country. If you’d like more information on where to purchase them, send an email through to or call on 01474 560 618.