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Photoshop – 10 Steps to Whiter Teeth

White Teeth in Photoshop In A Hurry

No, I’m not selling you a toothpaste nor am I a dentist. Not a lot of us live in Hollywood so we probably won’t have magazine worthy pearly-whites. Vanna White-like teeth may be pleasing to look at in glossy ads and magazine spreads, but they’re usually not very natural when implemented on regular folks like us. So when you post-process casual portraits, it’s best not to over whiten your subjects teeth, in my opinion.

Here’s a simple technique to whiten teeth without the ultra-white Hollywood result in Photoshop.

1) Open your image in Photoshop. Here I have a simple photo of my wife’s aunt. Her teeth aren’t yellowish in real life, but due to the shadow and color issues of photographs, her teeth look darker that it really is. We need to fix that.

2) Create a new saturation adjustment layer (Layer >> New Adjustment Layer >> Hue/Saturation).

3) Change the Blend Mode of this layer to SCREEN.

4) Select “Yellows” from the drop-down menu in the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Most teeth are discolored through normal food and drink consumption, as well as smoking and other junk that can taint our teeth. Unless teeth are decayed, the discoloration usually turns white to a yellowish shade, that’s why we chose to adjust the “Yellows” only.

5) Desaturate the teeth. I prefer a setting between -40 to -20 range because if you desaturate too much, the teeth will turn grey, which is worse than yellow!

6) After desaturating, I adjust the Hue slider down to the yellow/green range. You’ll notice that the teeth will turn into a natural white. You can bump up the “Lightness” slider if you wish. You’ll end up with something like this:

7) Wait, we only want to whiten the teeth, not screw up the rest of the photo! We can isolate the teeth by applying a layer mask. Just click on the white square inside the Hue/Saturation layer then press CTRL+I to invert the mask (hiding all your changes).

8) Zoom in close and choose a soft brush with a white foreground color (press D on your keyboard to reset the foreground/background color) then paint over the teeth (areas you want to reveal underneath the mask). Here you see that I’ve only painted the 3 left teeth so far.

You’ll end up with a black mask with a little white line somewhere near where the mouth is located in the photograph.

9) Reduce opacity of the Hue/Saturation layer if the teeth are too white.

10) Flatten and Save!

Here’s the before and after:

There you have it, 2-3 shades brighter teeth without making them look artificial.