Sometimes composite filling can become stained or become more yellow with time. When this happens to my patients, they often inquire about the need for their replacement. It is not always necessary to replace a discolored composite restoration . Usually, if I inspect a discolored or stained composite restoration and it appears intact and well sealed, I will try to remove a tiny bit of the surface with a sandpaper disk or a fine diamond bur, in order to ascertain if the stain or yellow color is superficial. Often it is, and afterwards my patient no longer feels the need to replace their restoration.
Why does this surface staining or discoloration happen? Composite restorations are made partly of plastic resin and this resin can at least at the surface become porous and can either pick up stains or appear more yellow. Fortunately this discoloration is often just on the surface and after removing a few microns of the composite it appears “refreshed . Assuming that a tooth is still well filled, having its length of service extended is a good thing, since more frequent refilling may make it more likely that the tooth will eventually require a crown or a root canal.
Patients can help themselves extend the life expectancy of their tooth colored composite restorations by having excellent oral hygiene, since composite fillings that are kept clean tend to exhibit less staining and discoloration. Using your tooth brush and floss properly will tend to keep these fillings looking good and maintain their proper color.