What are Zirconia Crowns

Dentists use dental crowns to restore teeth that are cracked, chipped, or worn, helping to maintain the appearance and structure of the tooth and protect the inside of the tooth from bacteria. Dental crowns are made of a few different materials, and each material comes with its own set of pros and cons, though zirconia crowns are a consistently popular option. Factors to think about when selecting a material for your dental crowns should include the durability of the material and its cost, and, especially when the tooth that’s being repaired is in a highly visible area of the mouth, you may also want to consider the appearance of the final product. While you may remember seeing gold crowns in an older person’s mouth, most dental crowns these days are made of material that more closely matches the natural appearance of the teeth. But people have needed to repair teeth that are significantly damaged for centuries, with evidence of early use by the Etruscans in the first century.

More recently, metal alloys and gold were used to cap teeth, largely because of their impressive strength, but gradually, dentists began using tooth-colored porcelain to meet the aesthetic needs of the majority of their patients. In some cases, however, people still request gold or metal alloy crowns, and they may be more affordable than their lifelike counterparts. While porcelain dental crowns are lifelike in appearance, the material is more fragile and porous than metal and therefore more prone to breakage and discoloration. Some dental crowns use porcelain that has been fused to metal, creating a sturdy base for the toothlike porcelain frame, though this style can still have some aesthetic drawbacks. Within the last few decades, however, dentists have begun using zirconia to craft dental crowns that are highly lifelike in appearance and feel while delivering considerable strength and durability.

Zirconia offers the strength of metal with the lustrous, natural appearance of porcelain. As the popularity of this ceramic glaze material increases, its benefits will only continue to increase with new clinical and material developments. Zirconia is highly biocompatible, which means it won’t lead to any allergic reactions in the body, and zirconia crowns require very little preparation and can be shaped directly in the dentist’s office, requiring just a single visit for both crown fitting and placement. Zirconia crowns can be affixed to the teeth a few different ways, allowing dentists more flexibility in their treatment planning, and the material can also be layered with porcelain to create an even more luminous appearance.

While zirconia is highly lifelike, the material isn’t as transparent as a natural tooth, so it may be noticeable when compared with the adjacent teeth, especially in the very front of the mouth. Because of its strength, which is one of its benefits, zirconia crowns can also be more difficult to adjust when the size or shape of the crown is damaging one of the adjacent teeth or affecting the bite. You and your dentist can discuss the specific pros and cons of zirconia and other dental crown materials when you meet for your consultation, and you can consider the factors that are most important to you.

Zirconia vs. Porcelain Crowns