How to Whiten Teeth in Adobe Photoshop

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May 10, 2021
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Have you ever seen those teeth whitening commercials on TV that tell you that they’ll whiten and brighten your smile? Regardless if the products these people are selling work or not, the goal is still to whiten and brighten your teeth. So, when working in Adobe Photoshop to achieve these goals, take a tip from the commercials and use the tools available to make any type of teeth look a lot better than they normally do. You want to whiten and brighten.

In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of whitening teeth in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll make a selection, apply an adjustment layer to that selection and then copy the mask in that layer and apply it to another adjustment layer. The first adjustment layer will take care of the whitening by removing any yellow in the teeth and the second adjustment layer will brighten those teeth up so they’re not so dull. By the end of this post, you should have the knowledge necessary to make any smile look more inviting.

Before I begin, I’d like to tell you that I wrote a post a while back that talks about achieving the same goal, but in Adobe Camera Raw. So, if you’re into that application more than you’re into Photoshop, please feel free to browse through my post.

How to Whiten Eyes & Teeth in Adobe Camera Raw

The Demo Photo​

For this post, I’ll be using a photo of a girl in a warm setting. I understand that the lighting may be having an effect upon the girl’s teeth, among other things, but the teeth can be clearly seen and I think they’ll be appropriate for a tutorial like this. Take a look at the photo.


Selecting the Teeth with the Quick Selection Tool​

To make my selection, I’ll be using the Quick Selection Tool. I’ll go ahead and activate it from the left vertical toolbar now.


I’m going to make my selection. First, I’ll size my brush by pressing the [ and ] keys on my keyboard. Since this is a relatively tight area, I’ll use a rather small size. Also, before I select, I’ll make sure to enlarge the photo so I can see what I’m doing. And since I’m sure I’ll select something I don’t intend to, I’ll press and hold the Alt key on my keyboard to unselect that area.

To learn more about this particular tool, please read through the post below.

Selecting Objects & Refining Edges in Adobe Photoshop

I made a pretty good selection. Let’s take a look at what I have at this point.


Selecting & Masking the Selection​

Now that I have a fairly decent selection made, I’d like to clean it up a bit. To do so, I’ll click the Select and Mask button that’s located in the options bar up top.


Once I do that, an entirely new work area will appear. Inside this work area, I’ll push a few sliders around. More specifically, I’ll increase the values of the Radius, Smooth and Contrast sliders and I’ll check the box that says Smart Radius. These sliders really assist with obtaining a sharp selection. Although, the final product of this selection will result in a mask, so it’s not overly critical to seek perfection at this point. I can always paint the mask to either reveal or hide parts of the teeth later on.


When I’m finished, I’ll press the OK button and I’ll exit the edge refinement work area. Upon returning to the regular work area, I won’t see much of a change. Perhaps just a better selection than before.

Whitening the Teeth​

Now that I have the teeth selected, my first goal is to whiten them via an adjustment layer. To do this, I’ll click the Hue/Saturation icon in the Adjustments panel.


Next, I’ll use the Targeted Adjustment Tool to find the exact color of the teeth. I’ll click the small hand icon in the Properties panel and then I’ll click on the teeth. As you can see from the screenshot below, the bottom color sliders moved to yellow. That’s the current shade of the teeth.


Finally, now that the shade of the teeth has been identified, I’ll push the Saturation slider to the left. Normally, I’d only be able to push this slider to the left a small bit, but this time, pushing it as far as it’ll go doesn’t have any ill effects. I’ll get this result.


If I ever wanted to see exactly what it is that I’m altering the color of, I can hold down the Alt key on my keyboard and click once on the adjustment layer mask in the Layers panel. Doing that would superimpose the mask on top of the photo. Take a look. I’m editing anything that’s white and not touching anything in black.


Again, since this is a mask, I have the ability to edit it any time I wish by painting it white or black.

4 Masking Power Tips for Adobe Photoshop

Reusing the Selection For Another Adjustment​

This is a really cool trick. Since I don’t want to go through the agony of (sometimes selecting things can be very challenging) making another, duplicate, selection, I’ll simply hold down the Ctrl key on my keyboard and click once on the mask in the Layers panel. Doing this will reselect the teeth, exactly how I selected them earlier. Or, if I modified the mask by painting it, it’ll create a selection based on the modified mask. Either way, I’ll see the marching ants on the teeth once again.

Now, I can see that the teeth are rather bright as they are. I really don’t need to add any brightness to them. I would like to see, however, what the teeth would look like if I darkened their tone somewhat. Or brighten the tone. Either way, I’d like to play around.

Since the teeth have been reselected, I’ll go ahead and click the Curves icon in the Adjustments panel. As you can see by the screenshot below, a new adjustment layer is formed and new content is seen in the Properties panel that appears.

Using the Adobe Photoshop Curves Tool For Photography


I’m going to adjust the curve until I see that the rear teeth have been brightened and the front teeth have be brought down in their intensity somewhat. Here’s what I came up with.


And that concludes the editing. Let’s take a look at the result.


I’d say this looks pretty good. If I ever want to edit either of these adjustments, I can easily do so by double-clicking on the adjustment layer icon in the Layers panel. When I do that, the appropriate Properties panel will pop open and I can do anything I wish.


I hope I clearly explained how to go about whitening someone’s teeth in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!


May 10, 2021
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Whitening & Brightening Teeth with the Lasso Tool in Adobe Photoshop​

A while back, I wrote a post about whitening and brightening teeth in Adobe Photoshop. In that post, I covered everything someone may want to know about the topic of making teeth look better. The only issue with what I wrote was that I found the method of selecting the teeth sort of cumbersome. I asked myself, is it really necessary to select each of the teeth? Is there a better, easier and faster way? After thinking about it for a while, I decided that there is.

In today’s post, I’m going to briefly talk about another selection method for accomplishing the same exact goal as last time, which is whitening teeth. Everything I already wrote after the selection process will remain the same. The only thing that will differ is the beginning part.

The Old Way vs. the New Way​

In my previous post, I used the Quick Selection Tool to select the teeth. I zoomed in pretty close and traced the edges of each and every tooth in the subject’s mouth. While it wasn’t the worst thing in the world to have to do this, I did find it kind of annoying that I would have to spend so much time on selecting something for such a simple purpose. I also realized that all I was selecting the teeth for was to remove any yellow that may be mixed with the white.

I got thinking about that yellow and realized that if I were to use the, say, Lasso Tool to make the selection, I wouldn’t have to be as careful with what I was doing. I could be much more liberal with what I traced. I could even include some of the gums and lips, if need be. Since there’s no noticeable yellow in the those two areas that would be removed, they would remain unaffected. Because of this epiphany, I’ve updated my method. Now, I use the Lasso Tool for tasks like this.

Demo Photo​

Today, I’ll be using a very realistic photograph of two girls. One of the girls is smiling and showing her teeth, which is rather helpful. There’s also a very light yellowish overlay that extends over the teeth themselves. It’s this overlay I’d like to remove. I’ll also show you how to go about brightening the smile by using the same Lasso Tool in conjunction with the adjustment layer mask.


Selecting the Smile​

Okay, let’s get going. To select the smile, I’ll head over to the left vertical toolbar and activate the Lasso Tool.


After that, I’ll zoom into the photo by pressing Ctrl++ on my keyboard a few times. Then, I’ll use the Lasso Tool to trace around the teeth as closely to them as I can.


Once I’m happy with the selection, I’ll go ahead and click on the Hue/Saturation icon in the Adjustments panel. This will add a new layer to the Layers panel as well as open up the Properties panel for this adjustment.


Whitening the Teeth​

All I have to do now is remove the yellow from the teeth. To accomplish this, I’ll choose Yellows from the color selection drop-down in the Properties panel.


Then, I’ll push the Saturation slider all the way to the left to remove all of the yellow color. By selecting Yellows from the drop-down, I’m limiting what colors will be affected by this particular slider movement. It’s an ingenious method for manipulating color in Photoshop.


Touching Up​

At this point, I can see that the teeth are indeed whiter. I can also see that there was some inadvertent saturation removed from one of the lips. That small part is now gray. Since adjustment layers work based off of masks, I can easily fix this. To do so, I’ll head back over to the left vertical toolbar and activate the Brush Tool. I’ll make sure Black is selected in the color picker and I’ll size my brush so it’s about the size of a penny. Then, I’ll add some softness to the edge of it as well.


When I’m ready to fix the lip area, I’ll make sure the mask thumbnail in the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer is selected and then I’ll simply paint over the affected area. I can actually follow these steps for any area that I find unappealing. This is the beauty of working with adjustment layers and masks.

To see what the mask looks like, I’ll hold down the Alt key on my keyboard and click once on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. This will create a visual overlay.


To remove the overlay, I can press and hold Alt again and then click the thumbnail once more. This is just a cool way to see if you’re in the right track when working with masks.

Brightening the Teeth​

The problem with removing saturation from teeth without doing any brightening is that the teeth end up looking somewhat gray. To counter this, we can brighten them. Doing this is just as easy as removing the yellow. The only issue I’m facing right now is that my selection is gone. To bring it back, I’ll press and hold the Ctrl key on my keyboard and then I’ll click once on the mask again. This makes the selection reappear. I should see the marching ants.

Now, I can go back up to the Adjustments panel and click on the Brightness/Contrast icon. When the Properties panel for this adjustment appears, I can push the Brightness slider ever so slightly to the right to add just a hint of brightness. I have to be very careful here because it’s extremely easy to go too far. In this case, I barely moved the slider at all.


After doing this, I ended up with this result.


And this is the final image.


Again, if there were any areas that I needed to adjust (correct), I could simply click on this layer’s mask thumbnail and brush away those areas with the Brush Tool. It’s all fairly straightforward.

I hope I clearly explained how to whiten and brighten a smile in Adobe Photoshop with the Lasso Tool. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!