how to whiten teeth in photoshop

How to Whiten Teeth in Photoshop

In Photoshop Tutorials, Post Processing by Stefano Caioni Leave a Comment

Let’s learn how to whiten teeth in Photoshop.

Whitening teeth using photoshop is easy and it’s an invaluable skill that every portrait photographer needs to learn.

Naturally, teeth are not perfectly white. On top of that, every person’s teeth may be of a different tonality. 

However, it is your job as a beginner or professional portrait photographer to ensure that your subjects’ smiles look amazing in the pictures you take. This is especially true if you are working with commercial clients such as magazines.

Remember, the first impression is really important when it comes to professional portraitures. 

How to Whiten Teeth in Photoshop

In this post, I am going to run you through the process of whitening teeth using Photoshop. By the end of this article, you should have a solid grasp on how the various tools in Photoshop, and how you can apply them when performing retouches on your images. 

Here are the steps you need to follow when whitening teeth in photoshop:

How to Whiten Teeth in Photoshop Step by Step

Use the Lasso Tool

The first thing you need to do when retouching teeth using Photoshop is to choose the lasso tool, which is located on the standard main menu. This digital tool is typically denoted by the rope lasso icon. 

Related: Photoshop Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Make a Selection

Before you begin retouching the teeth in the image, it’s key to isolate them first. With the lasso tool selected, draw a line around the teeth you intend to whiten.

Selection Photoshop how to whiten teeth in photoshop

If you are retouching the teeth of several people in a single image, it may be tempting to whiten them all at the same time. However, when learning how to whiten teeth in Photoshop it’s essential to realize that different teeth require different levels of whitening. You should, therefore, keep the unique needs of each set of teeth in mind and focus on them separately to achieve the best results.

Group of three girls smiling

Once you have chosen the teeth you intend to work on, trace a line around them while taking care not to draw outside the edges. However, do not fret too much if the lines extend outside the edges, as you can easily undo them later. 

How to Whiten Teeth in Photoshop The Power of Adjustment Layers

how to whiten teeth in photoshop adjustment layer

As explained in this official guide on how to whiten teeth in Photoshop, after you’ve drawn a selection around the teeth, the next thing you need to do is add a hue or saturation layer to the selected parts. Click the adjustment layer option and choose the hue you intend to apply to the image.

Adjust Yellow Saturation

Saturation adjustment layer

The hue and saturation settings in photoshop are typically set to ‘Master’ by default. This means that when they are applied, the gradation changes uniformly throughout the image.

Saturation how to whiten teeth in photoshop

However, since your intention is to only alter the appearance of teeth, you need to customize the settings appropriately. You can do so by changing the ‘edit’ options to yellow so that only the yellow tones of the teeth are removed. 

Using your mouse or trackpad, drag the saturation slide from right to left in order to dial down the saturation value of the teeth and make them whiter. You should be careful not to desaturate them too much, since they may end up looking lifeless and fake. Yes, you read that right.

First Before and After

With your saturation value dialed down, you can now compare the new image of the retouched smile with the original and judge whether the whitening process has been successful. Simply click the hue/saturation adjustment layer’s visibility icon located in the ‘layers’ panel. Clicking it once will hide the adjustments made on the image, whereas clicking twice will restore all the edits. 

Adjust the Brightness

how to whiten teeth in photoshop brightness

If you are satisfied with the results of your whitening retouch, the next thing you need to do is to brighten them up.

To do so, you will need to revert your ‘edit’ settings back to ‘master’ in order to brighten the entire image uniformly. Drag the cursor from left to right on the ‘lightness’ slider to increase the brightness of the teeth.

However, again, you should avoid increasing the brightness too much, since this may make the teeth appear unreal. 

Fine Tune with The Brush Tool

partial result how to whiten teeth in photoshop

One of the most useful features of Photoshop’s editing toolkit is the layer mask. This is represented by a thumbnail that features a black segment and a tiny white spot.

The black area represents the part of the image that is unaffected by the retouch, whereas the white spot depicts the area that has been edited.

adjust brightness

The layer mask is naturally created by the lasso tool, which fills the selected area with white, while the rest of the image remains black. This makes it possible to fine-tune the image with ease (using a brush tool) after whitening the teeth. 

Steps to follow…. 

Go to the toolbar and click on the ‘brush’ icon.

brush tool

You will find a selection of brushes of different sizes that you can use to tweak your image and clean up the rough edges. I would recommend selecting a fine-bristled brush since this will provide you with greater precision, thus enabling you to tweak the selected area and give the teeth a natural look. 

Final Before and After

Before how to whiten teeth in photoshop
After how to whiten teeth in photoshop

Once you are done with the retouch, go ahead and compare the original image with the new one to gauge the effectiveness of your whitening process. To do so, simply click the ‘background visibility’ icon while pressing down the Alt/Option key on your device.

Easy Video Explanation


Developing your retouch ability using Photoshop can significantly enhance your profile as a portrait photographer, and give you an edge over your competitors.

If you are interested in raising your profile, therefore, it is essential to learn how to whiten teeth in Photoshop.

If you’ve never used Photoshop before or are only starting to incorporate it in your photography, retouching teeth can seem like a daunting task. However, by applying the steps outlined in this article, you can significantly improve your skills in a short amount of time and become proficient at producing high-quality portraits.

So what are you waiting for? Start practicing today!

And I’d love to hear what you think about retouching images in Photoshop.

In particular, I’d like to know:

What’s the #1 thing you want to learn about photo editing right now?

Also, I plan on adding even more helpful resources to the blog soon.

So let me know if you have any topic ideas or suggestions.

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