Almost 50 years ago, Dental Material researchers discovered tooth-colored filling material, often called “composite”. And they’ve been improving it ever since! It needed to have improved strength, then hold up better in an acidic environment and, finally, match every tooth color imaginable. Probably the toughest challenge for those researchers was to keep composite from staining over time. I see new patients who have had these fillings for years. Sometimes, they remained a youthful white as the natural teeth around them darkened. But, most often, the older composite materials pick up stains from coffee, tea, food, and cigarettes. The stain imbeds inside the material, not on the surface where our hygienists could polish it away. That works out fine, if you never smile or laugh.
If you want to look older, hang on to these discolored fillings. Some patients have tried tooth whitening products in their entire mouth, but it will not whiten these discolored fillings. Another dentist told me that one of his patients used kitchen cleanser on her toothbrush to whiten hers! Please don’t. But if you are tired of looking older, let’s replace your composite fillings with newer materials that resist staining. Very little drilling is usually required and you can chew with it shortly after your appointment.