Many photographers take advantage of Lightroom’s user-friendly interface and workflow to make basic edits to their images, but did you know Lightroom’s features can also be used to whiten teeth? While you might assume Photoshop would be the go-to software for cosmetic adjustments, you can whiten your subject’s teeth in Lightroom in a few simple steps.
How To Whiten Teeth In Lightroom
The easiest way to whiten teeth in Lightroom is to select the Adjustment Brush and set the brush effect to “Teeth Whitening.” With a soft brush, enable auto mask and paint over your subject’s teeth to begin whitening. The brush effect will automatically lighten the teeth you paint over.
It really is that easy.
But if you aren’t sure exactly what to do still, let’s break the whole process down more in-depth.
Step 1: Open Your Image In Lightroom
First, you’ll want to open up the image you’d like to edit in Lightroom. To do this, head to File > Import Photos and Video and select the image you’d like to edit from your files.
The image will appear in your Library.
Step 2: Locate The Adjustment Brush
We will use the Adjustment Brush for this process, which is one of Lightroom’s Masking tools. These tools allow you to apply certain settings to a specific area of your image.
Once you’ve opened up your image, head to the Develop panel.
Head to the develop panel and click the Masking icon, which sits in the bar right above the Basic tab.
From here, you’ll see the different Masking tools available in Lightroom. Click the Brush icon.
This will take you to the Brush panel, where you’ll see most of the same settings available in the Develop module.
You’ll also notice the Masks panel appear with the New Mask you’re about to create.
You’ll work in these two panels to set your brush settings and add adjustments.
Step 3: Set Your Brush Effect To “Teeth Whitening”
Lightroom has several presets built into the adjustment brush that you can use to brush specific effects onto your image. One of these is called Teeth Whitening and contains the proper settings to make teeth look whiter.
To add effects to the adjustment brush, head to the Effect area of the brush panel and click the effect name or the drop-down arrow.
Scroll down to find and set the effect to Teeth Whitening.
You’ll notice the Saturation and Exposure adjustments change slightly, which means the brush is correctly set. To ensure the effect works best, do not change any other adjustments for now.
Step 4: Adjust Your Brush Settings As Needed
At the top of the Brush area, you can change the Size, Feather, Flow, and Density of your brush.
Set the size depending on the area you’ll be brushing over (in this case, the teeth). You don’t want the brush size too big or too small, though you can always go over it later with the eraser brush to clean up the area. Feather can remain low so that the effect stays on the teeth rather than the lips. Density and Flow can stay at 100 as these do not need to be changed.
Finally, you’ll want to check Auto-Mask. The Auto Mask feature will constrain the area you brush over only to pixels of a similar color and contrast. This will help prevent the mask from going beyond the teeth.
Step 5: Make Sure Your Mask Overlay Is On
To best see the mask as you brush, you’ll want to make sure the mask overlay is visible. It should automatically be checked and set to the color Red, but you can double-check that the highlight is active by heading to the Masks panel and making sure Show Overlay is checked.
Step 6: Paint Over The Teeth
Now, just paint over the teeth with your brush. You can adjust the size of the brush as you go to cover areas that are harder to reach, but with the auto-mask turned on, the mask should remain mainly on the teeth, as you’ll see below.
To view the final product, you can uncheck Show Overlay in the Masks panel.
You’ll notice the teeth in the final image have considerably whitened versus the original.
If you make a mistake, you can undo your last brush stroke using Control + Z (Win) or Command + Z (Mac). You can also delete the brush entirely by right-clicking the brush icon over the mask and selecting Delete “Brush 1”.
You could also click the ellipsis icon next to Brush 1 in the Masks panel and select Delete “Brush 1” instead.
Step 7: Refine The Mask To Correct Any Unwanted Adjustments
If you make any mistakes and would rather not start your mask over from scratch, you can switch to the Eraser brush by heading to the Masks panel and selecting Subtract > Brush.
Just make sure you set the settings of the eraser brush — the size should be enough to erase the area you need to but not so large that you erase too much. Feathering should be quite high to keep a blended appearance, with Density and Flow set to 100.
Then, just paint over the areas you want to remove from the adjustment.
Step 8: Make Any Additional Refinements
If you’d like the teeth to be even more white, you can adjust some of the settings that the preset effects – particularly the exposure, whiteness, and saturation settings. First, make sure the brush is active by clicking the brush icon on the image or Brush 1 from the Masks panel.
Now, head to the Brush panel, and you can slide the sliders for the Exposure, Whites, and Saturation adjustments to increase or decrease their strength. The image will change in real-time, so you can adjust it to your liking.
Now that you know how to whiten teeth in Lightroom, it’s time to retouch the rest of your portrait. Learn how in this next tutorial on how to professionally smooth skin & remove blemishes in Lightroom!
Want To Save Time In Your Photo Editing?
Although these types of spot adjustments can be time-consuming, editing the rest of your image doesn’t need to be. Luckily, I have 12 free Lightroom presets you can download here to help do just that!