Old broken
and discoloured fillings

Are old discoloured fillings ruining your smile?
If it impacts on your comfort, well-being, and enjoyment of life, it could just be time to do something about it.
And a lot can be done.

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Old worn out fillings can cause serious darkening of a tooth. It looks even worse if there is decay around the filling.

Silver mercury fillings break down and corrode over time. When placed near the front of the mouth they can leave a  tooth black in colour. The simple replacement of discoloured filling with a new modern tooth coloured material can restore a tooth to its original beauty.

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This process can be used to fix a wide range of smile problems.

Replacing old broken and discoloured fillings can make a huge difference to your smile.

Why replace old discoloured fillings?

Dark old fillings can shine through the remaining tooth. Silver mercury fillings make the whole tooth quite black. Old white fillings become brown over time. A black line often develops where they join the teeth. For many people, these are a good enough reasons to replace discoloured fillings. However, there are other reasons to consider upgrading them.

Bacteria removal.

As a white filling ages, it becomes ‘unglued’ from the tooth. Bacteria can then leak in around it. At the start of this process, you will see a brown line around the filling. In time these stain producing bacteria will surround the filling. This stain further darkens the tooth. Eventually, these bacteria will destroy the tooth around them. This decay makes the next filling larger and more complicated. For the long term health of the tooth, a filling should be replaced when it starts to ‘unglue’.

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Fracture removal.

Old silver fillings that have been in place for longer than ten years should be closely checked. If they involve more than half of the tooth they should be upgraded. This is because the statistics suggest the chances of deep cracks forming after this time is quite high. To make matters worse, it’s very difficult to know that these crack are there. They will rarely show up on x-rays, and they only cause pain when they are about to completely break through. When the pain arrives, it’s very often too late for the tooth.

What do we replace old discoloured fillings with?

The material that we chose to fix a tooth with depends on how weakened the tooth is.

Firstly, all old filling material, decay and fractures are removed. The strength of the remaining structure can then be checked.

Can the tooth support itself, or does it needs further protection? Are there deep cracks present? Is the nerve in danger?

The more at risk the tooth is, the stronger the restoring material should be. There are three basic options:

Composite resin

If 60% or more of your tooth structure remains, composite resin is generally a very durable and long lasting restoration option.

If less than 60% remains, it may not be a good long term option. It has been shown that when there is more than 40% of your tooth structure lost, 90% of its strength is lost.

Large white fillings can last for a while and appear a good choice at first. But when any large filling fails it often takes even more tooth structure with it. Really complex problems can be the result.


If only 40% or less of the tooth structure remains, a crown is the best option. There will not be enough strong structure to support a composite resin nor onlay.

A crown is produced in a very similar way to the inlay / onlay but it more completely covers the remaining structure. Therefore it provides a greater splinting effect.

Porcelain Inlays and Onlays

If only 40% to 60% of your tooth structure remains, porcelain inlays or onlays are the best option.

These are much stronger that Composite resin restorations. They are made in a laboratory and take two visits to complete. At the first visit, an mould is taken of the prepared tooth. This is sent to our lab. A temporary material is placed to protect your tooth until the next visit. At the second visit, the temporary material is readily removed. The new porcelain restoration is then fixed firmly into place.