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Discolored Fillings 

A discolored filling is a tooth filling that darkens over time.  The dark appearance may be around the edge of the tooth, underneath the filling, or within the filling itself.

What causes a discolored filling?

Discolored fillings may be caused by leaking around the edges of a filling or staining from things we put in our mouth.  When liquid leaks underneath a filling, staining and decay may develop.  Leakage may appear as dark lines around the edge of the filling or a dark area underneath the filling itself.  White fillings may turn darker over time from smoking or from consuming foods or drinks that are prone to staining.

Who is at high risk for a discolored filling?

Here are factors that increase risk of discolored fillings:

  • Older fillings
  • Open edges or gaps between the filling and tooth
  • Decay under or around the filling
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Exposure to high staining drinks such as coffee, tea, and red wine
  • Smoking

What can I do to minimize my risk of having a discolored filling in the future?

To minimize your risk of a discolored filling, there are some important things to do.  Here’s a few recommendations:

  • Carefully clean your teeth daily as recommended by your dentist or hygienist
  • Have your dentist check your fillings regularly
  • Replace old fillings that are leaking or turning dark
  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned regularly
  • Limit high staining foods and drinks
  • Avoid smoking

What will happen if I choose to do nothing about my discolored filling?

If the discoloration is due to a leaking filling, tooth decay will eventually develop.  If left alone for too long, the tooth may need a root canal or extraction.  If the discolored filling is caused by staining, the filling will continue to darken over time until it is replaced.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.