When it comes to restoring a damaged tooth, zirconia crowns are among the top choices for dentists throughout the world. This is because of the lifelike aesthetics and durability of zirconia. Since this is a relatively new material, many patients are curious regarding the composition and uses of zirconia crowns. This article explains everything you need to know about zirconia as a material for making dental crowns as well as its pros and cons.
What is Zirconia?
Zirconia is a powdered white metal oxide of zirconium, which belongs to the titanium family. Therefore, zirconia possesses properties similar to the titanium alloys. Just like most other crown materials, zirconia is also a ceramic material. However, zirconia crowns can be preferred over other types of ceramics for use inside the oral cavity because of their durability, chemical inertness and safety.
What are the Benefits of Zirconia Crowns?
As discussed earlier, zirconia-based crowns possess several advantages of the current metal-ceramic or all-ceramic based crown materials, which make them one of the best choices for making dental crowns:
The most often used material for crowns are metal-ceramic crowns, that usually have a dark grey metal collar, or in cases where high strength is needed, the crown may even be a visible metal colour. Zirconia, being naturally white, offers a natural and aesthetically pleasant look to the crowns and other prostheses prepared from it. This is why zirconia crowns are the material of choice among dentists and patients when aesthetics and superior strength are required, especially when restoring the back teeth. Due to these features, teeth restored with zirconia crowns are virtually indistinguishable from the natural teeth.
2. Milled Zirconia Crowns
Perhaps, the biggest advantage of zirconia crowns is that they can be prepared using the 3D printing and milling technology, which offers several benefits over the dental crowns prepared conventionally in the dental laboratory:
- Single Day Crowns – with the 3D printing and milling technology, highly aesthetic and durable zirconia crowns can be prepared at the dental chairside, and that too on the same day. So, you don’t have to wait for days or weeks to get your teeth restored as in the case of conventionally prepared crowns.
- Precision – with the 3D printing technology, digital impressions of the prepared teeth are made. Afterwards, these impressions are fed into a software to design to digitally design the crowns. Finally, the crowns are milled using CAD-CAM technology. As a result of this digital technology, the chances of errors and imperfections, which may be encountered during laboratory processing are eliminated and highly precise, durable and accurately fitting prostheses are prepared.
- Durability – zirconia crowns prepared with the milling technology contain fewer imperfections. Consequently, they are much more durable and last longer than the conventionally metal-ceramic or all-ceramic crowns.
3. Layering with Ceramics
Zirconia is naturally opaque. Teeth that have become darkened by trauma, decay or after root canal treatment can be masked with zirconia to appear normal again after the crown. However, as it does not possess the translucency offered by ceramic crowns, zirconia crowns can be layered with translucent glass-ceramics to obtain the desired aesthetic outcome.
Zirconia is an extremely strong material and can withstand even the highest chewing forces generated inside the oral cavity. Unlike the metal-ceramic crowns, zirconia crowns are metal free and do not require the placement of a metal layer beneath them.
5. Ease of Bonding
Zirconia crowns can be directly bonded to the natural tooth structure, thereby improving the retention and also making it a good choice in cases whereby the tooth is very broken down.
6. Natural Tooth Conservation
Due to the high inherent strength of zirconia crowns, they can be prepared in thinner sections in comparison to the conventional ceramic or metal-ceramic crowns. This is advantageous as less of the tooth needs be removed to fit the crown in. More conservation of the tooth is better as there is more strength, and to reduce the risk of tooth sensitivity.
Zirconia crowns are biocompatible and completely safe for use inside the oral cavity.
The Other Side of the Picture
Despite the numerous benefits of the zirconia crowns, there are some disadvantages associated with this material as well:
- Opacity – as discussed earlier, zirconia crowns have less translucency. As a result, they tend to be less aesthetic than their ceramic counterparts and may not be suitable for restoring the front teeth.
- Abrasiveness – zirconia is an extremely hard material. Therefore, there are chances that the zirconia crowns may abrade the opposing teeth. This can be significantly decreased when the zirconia material is properly treated and polished.
- Cost – the cost of zirconia crowns is slightly higher than conventional crown materials due to their processing and material costs.
At Dental Designs Clinic, we offer durable, aesthetically pleasant and natural looking zirconia crowns to restore your teeth and to give you a charming and beautiful smile. With our technology, we are able to make these crowns with our in-house laboratory and can usually be issued on the same day.