How to Retouch Teeth Quickly in Photoshop for a Brighter Smile

Saikat Basu 08-02-2017

Our eyes get drawn to a cheery smile in any portrait photo. But most of us don’t come with perfect set of dentures. A little yellow tinge on those pearly whites can be distracting enough to take something away from the look. This is where Adobe Photoshop shines.


You can use a simple three-minute technique to bring back the sparkle in the teeth.


We are going to work with this sample photo from Notice the lively smile. There’s nothing that mars the photograph, but we can retouch it to make it even better.

Step 1. Create a Vibrance Adjustment Layer. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance.

Create a Vibrance Adujstment Layer



You can name the layer. The Properties box will be displayed next. Reduce the Vibrance to “-50” or “-60“.

Vibrance and saturation are two controls you can use to control color. While saturation enhances every color in a photo to the same degree, vibrance is subtler. It changes the intensity of the more muted colors and leaves the already well-saturated colors alone. For example, vibrance prevents skin tones from becoming over saturated.

Vibrance Properties

In this case, we move the vibrance to the left and set a negative value to subtly wash out any unwanted color on the teeth and bring it close to white. But as you will see, the vibrance setting will take out the color from the entire image, so we need the help of a Mask to protect rest of the image and affect just the teeth.

Step 2. Select the Vibrance layer in the Layers panel and choose the associated Layer Mask.

Layer Mask

Step 3. Open the Properties Panel and click the Invert button to fill the mask with black. When you invert a mask, you get the flexibility to apply an adjustment to only a specific part of an image — in this case, the teeth. Black hides the desaturation due to the vibrance layer. Painting with white will reveal it.

How to Retouch Teeth Quickly in Photoshop for a Brighter Smile Invert Mask

Zoom into the teeth at an optimum percentage (Ctrl + on Windows, Cmd + on Mac).

Step 4. Select a soft-edged brush from the tool bar. Pick a suitable size for painting over the teeth. Now paint over the teeth to whiten it.

Animated Process

Zoom out and check the photo.

You can whiten teeth with a few methods. But if you are finicky about your portraits, and want to speed edit them, then this method to whiten teeth should serve you well. This short tutorial also demonstrates the subtle advantages of vibrance over saturation. Next time, use vibrance to correct common color problems with Photoshop How to Correct Common Color Problems in Photoshop Having to fix color problems is one of the most common edits you'll need to do in photography. Digital images just don't look good straight out of a camera. Read More .

What problems do you face with color portraits? Let’s find a few solutions together.

Image Credit: kurhan via

Related topics: Adobe Photoshop, Creativity, Image Editing Tips.

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