|Colgate Tartar Control Plus Whitening toothpaste; Colgate Whitening With Tartar Control toothpaste (both Colgate-Palmolive Company)
Back when I was a kid, the toothpaste market was pretty simple: Families with children used either Crest or Colgate (the latter of which, you may recall, boasted of using "MFP Fluoride," which was actually redundant because MFP stood for "maximum fluoride protection"); single people who were more worried about dating than about cavities used Ultra-Brite; and people who were concerned about their breath used Close-Up.
These days, with the dental hygiene world having made significant strides -- or else maybe just having figured out how to target more narrowly defined market segments -- the situation's way more complex. If you look at the toothpaste section at your local supermarket or drug store, you'll see a dizzying array of brands, most of which have diverse product lines that address a wide range of problems: anti-cavity, anti-tartar, anti-gingivitis, anti-halitosis, whitening, and various combinations thereof. All of which helps explain how the folks at Colgate-Palmolive came to market the following two toothpastes: Colgate Tartar Control Plus Whitening, and Colgate Whitening with Tartar Control.
"The big difference is that one of them has baking soda and peroxide," explained the friendly customer-service rep I spoke with. And indeed, this is clearly noted on the W+TC package, although there's no indication of how this affects the product's whitening ability, anti-tartar capacity, or anything else. When I asked the fellow if he could explain the benefits of baking soda and/or peroxide, he said, "To be honest, I don't know. I just know some people prefer to have it in there." And are the two products otherwise identical? "Yeah, I think so. I can see why you might find that confusing."