A Beauty Editor Reviews Her Go-To Gentle Whitening Toothpaste

When it comes to irritating toothpaste ingredients, there are two main culprits at play: sulfates and hydrogen peroxide. Traditional pastes typically contain sodium lauryl sulfate (or SLS), which is what gives them their foamy, squeaky-clean feel. The problem is, sulfates can potentially irritate your soft oral tissue and disrupt the oral microbiome, which some experts say can actually lead to chronic bad breath in the long run.

Traditional whitening Toothpastes will also call on SLS and fold in hydrogen peroxide, as it’s one of the only widely studied ingredients for teeth whitening—the solution can bleach fabrics, so it’s no surprise lower concentrations can whiten teeth pretty well. However, many people claim it can make your teeth sensitive, and preliminary research has found that it can penetrate the enamel and potentially degrade the proteins in this layer, which may explain why some (ahem, I) face sensitivity.

Wellnesse’s formula skips both iffy ingredients, instead relying on botanical-derived surfactants (from coconuts) to provide a much gentler clean—the paste won’t foam up like its traditional counterparts, but it still provides that nice fresh feeling. You’ll also find hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring mineral that can help strengthen and protect teeth when used topically. It’s a common alternative to fluoride, which also strengthens teeth but is a little questionable according to some functional dentists (others deem it just fine; as of now, it’s really up to personal preference). Hydroxyapatite makes this a non-issue, as it’s a main component of your own tooth enamel that provides those same protective benefits.

Neem oil also makes an appearance, as it has been used for centuries for its medicinal, antibacterial properties. For oral health, that means it can help keep bacteria from sticking to teeth and turning into plaque down the line. Neem oil also has soothing abilities, as does green tea powder (another star ingredient), so even when I brush on my sensitive gum line, the paste doesn’t irritate the delicate area. In short: Not only does this natural toothpaste avoid those stripping surfactants; it also includes ingredients that further safeguard the teeth from damage, nourish the oral microbiome, and improve oral health over time.

Now, for the million-dollar question: Does it actually whiten? After using this paste, I can personally attest to its brightening abilities. It’s very gradual—it’s not like I had a dazzling white smile overnight—but I have noticed some stubborn stains start to lift. The formula calls on aloe vera for those natural brightening abilities, thanks to its capacity to remove plaque and reduce tartar formation. Plaque, after all, has a yellowish color and can keep your smile from looking sparkly.

However, it’s the antibacterial, tooth-strengthening ingredients we discussed earlier that make up the whole whitening package: Each ingredient works synergistically to build up the tooth’s natural enamel, which can not only buff away stains but prevent them from cropping up in the first place . And when your teeth and gums are healthier, they appear less dull and dingy. It’s a concept I’m quite familiar with but didn’t understand until I saw the power of healthy enamel play out in real time.

Whitening properties aside, I think I’m most impressed by how the Wellnesse toothpaste actually reduces my sensitivities with each use. Thanks to the bouquet of enamel-strengthening and gum-soothing ingredients, I now don’t need to brush with as much caution the next time I drink a glass of lemon water or acidic red wine. No more combing the sensitive toothpaste aisle for my perfect match—I finally found a formula that does it all.

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