How to Whiten Teeth Using Photoshop

Sometimes teeth need some adjustments to look their best. A photo of someone with a gorgeous smile but with stained teeth can detract from your final image. Aaron Nace from Phlearn breaks teeth whitening in Photoshop down into a few easy steps and gives us some bonus info on using the liquify tool to also correct irregularities and straighten out any crooked teeth:

Make a Selection

  • Use the lasso tool to trace around the edges of the teeth to make a good selection. This doesn’t need to be perfect because you can make small adjustments to the edges of your selection if necessary.
  • Hold shift and you’ll be able to add to your selection, or if there’s too much in your selection you can hold alt/option to subtract a section.
  • To refine the edges of the selection, go to the Select menu and choose Refine Edge. Drag the feather slider up to make the edge smoother.

select teeth

Now to clean things up a bit make a new layer and hit Command/Control + G to make a group. Then click the layer mask button which then makes your selection into a layer mask. Now any changes or alterations you make on the teeth will only show inside the selection.


Create a hue saturation adjustment layer and and select Colorize. This adds a hue to your selection. Because all teeth have some color in them, we don’t want to just desaturate the teeth but add their natural color and desaturate that. Drag the hue slider over to the yellow/orange end of the slider and drag your saturation slider down without completely turning all color off.

desaturate yellow teeth

Underlying Brightness

Now add a new Curves adjustment layer and drag your curve up. You will need to adjust this so that it only affects the darker underlying layer so it looks more natural. Double click the Curves layer and while holding  Alt/Option, drag the underlying layer slider to the left. Play with both sliders until the darker areas are a bit brighter and the teeth in general look more full.

adjust brightness

Use the marquee tool to make a selection around all of the teeth. Press Shift + Delete and choose to fill with white.

Now double click the layer again and while holding alt/option drag the underlying layer slider to the right and bring it back a bit until the glossy shiny areas of the teeth look full, otherwise you can make the teeth look flat and unnatural. This maintains the depth of the teeth and they will look real.


Nace gives us a quick bonus lesson on using the liquify tool to straighten the teeth and correct some imperfections.

First create a new layer and press Shift + Option + Command + E and you’ll have made a copy of everything you see as a new layer.

Next go to the Filter menu and choose liquify. You can adjust the size of the brush and drag a tooth down or pull the lip up—anything you feel could make the image look more symmetrical and remove any irregularities.

liquify teeth

These are some really quick tips to make a smile look much whiter. You can even choose just one of these tips and improve the overall look of someone’s teeth. Give it a try!

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