Oral health doesn’t stop at proper hygiene and dental care; it also includes restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Gum disease, a damaged tooth structure, and tooth decay call for urgent dental restoration.
When it comes to restoring a patient’s smile with dental crowns, more and more dentists are opting for zirconia over a traditional porcelain-fused-to-metal or full gold crown. Many dentists are making the switch because of the purported benefits of using zirconia over other options, like its additional strength, durability, and aesthetic appeal.
To help inspire even more grins, you’ll want to become familiar with this growing dental prosthetic alternative and digital dentistry. By weighing the pros and cons, you’ll be able to recommend the best option for your patients’ well-being.
The Three Types of Zirconia Crowns
As a dental provider, it’s important to understand that three distinct types of zirconia are used to make dental crowns. Even more so is learning proper zirconia crowns prep, especially with new tools like an intraoral scanner. Before we delve into the zirconia crowns disadvantages and advantages, a discussion of the various types is necessary.
The three types of zirconia used in dental crowns are:
- Solid or monolithic zirconia
- Layered zirconia
- High translucent zirconia
Each type of zirconia has its own specific benefits. What type of zirconia is most appropriate for your patient can depend on a range of factors, from the quality of the material itself to other patient-specific details. Let’s take a closer look at each type.
Solid or Monolithic Zirconia
Solid or monolithic zirconia is the most opaque of zirconia styles. They’re a popular choice because of their durability and because they require less occlusal clearance than other kinds of crowns.
Generally, solid or monolithic zirconia is recommended for posterior crowns. There are two primary reasons for this:
- They’re more opaque – Monolithic zirconia lacks the translucency of other zirconia types. For that reason, it’s generally recommended for posterior crowns, as the opaque color can be difficult to match teeth that are situated at visible points of the mouth.
- They contain more stabilizers – Oxide additives are used in zirconia to add strength and durability. Solid zirconia contains more of these stabilizers than other kinds of zirconia, making them perfect for the primary job of the molars at the back of the mouth—aka, chewing. Patients who tend to grind their teeth may also be better served by the durability of monolithic zirconia.
In addition to their durability, monolithic zirconia crowns are also thought to be better for the surrounding teeth. They cause less wear to neighboring teeth and are a suitable option for helping to mask discoloration from previous dental work.
Layered zirconia refers to zirconia that’s been coated with a special ceramic where the teeth are visible. However, only the visible surfaces are layered. To ensure durability where the teeth come into contact with the opposite row, the occlusal surfaces are full zirconia.
That ceramic layering makes layered zirconia a popular choice for anterior crowns. Compared to full zirconia, layered zirconia is more translucent and opalescent, leading to a more realistic smile.
Although layered zirconia is perfect for anterior crowns, it can also be used for crowns at the back of the mouth, provided there’s room for the amount of clearance layered zirconia crowns require.
High Translucent Zirconia
High translucent zirconia is considered the most natural-looking of all zirconia types. Its heightened translucency allows it to reflect the color of the teeth surrounding it, leading to crowns that blend in more with the rest of the teeth in the mouth.
The further individual benefits of high translucent zirconia may include:
- Enhanced durability – High translucent zirconia is sturdier than other kinds and far stronger than traditional porcelain crowns.
- A quicker implant procedure – High translucent zirconia doesn’t require any of the fine-tuning that other crowns need, like color shadings or glazes. This can also cut back on the time it takes for those kinds of additions to dry.
Zirconia Crowns Advantages
No matter what type of zirconia you and your patient decide on for their crowns, there are many ways this dental option can elevate their smile. Here are the three top advantages of zirconia crowns:
- They’re biocompatible – Biocompatibility means that your patients don’t have to worry about their zirconia crowns negatively interacting with the living tissue in their mouth. Zirconia is non-toxic and naturally hypoallergenic, which can further alleviate fears of medical issues caused by dental implants.
- They’re customizable – Zirconia is an incredibly customizable material, thanks to its chemical composition and the range of technologies that have been developed to work with the material. When it comes to crown implants, that means designing for the needs of specific patients is more feasible than ever. For your patients, this helps ensure a perfect fit and long-lasting comfort.
- They’re metal-free – Zirconia crowns contain zero metal, which makes them the obvious choice for people with nickel allergies or other metal sensitivities.
Zirconia Crowns Disadvantages
While zirconia crowns can be an advantageous option for many patients, it’s important to consider other factors that could come into play. Notably, there are a few potential challenges associated with zirconia crowns that you and your patient should be aware of before deciding on the best option.
Despite their attractive features, zirconia dental crown problems could include:
Let’s examine a couple of possible zirconia crown problems—and how innovative technology can help to mitigate them:
- Discoloration – In the past, it could be difficult and time-consuming to match zirconia crowns to the color of neighboring teeth. But this problem has been largely nullified thanks to digital options like Dandy’s intraoral scanning technology. Shade matching workflows help to ensure that digitally produced zirconia teeth are the perfect shade, creating a seamless aesthetic.
- Potential damage to neighboring teeth – Some members of the dental community have raised concerns that a hard, durable material like zirconia might wear away the comparatively soft texture of natural enamel in the neighboring teeth. To address this common issue, Dandy’s dedicated CAD design team places a special emphasis on proper spacing and alignment of zirconia teeth. Such digital workflows help to prevent any deterioration caused by wear and tear.
Spark More Smiles with Dandy
The type of dental crown material that’s right for your patient will depend on a variety of factors, from aesthetics to individual needs and crown location. But when it comes to improving patient experience, increasing production, and optimizing your practice’s efficiency, there’s only one logical choice: going digital.
That’s where Dandy comes in. Our digital lab provides quality prosthetics based on custom scans that can only be achieved in an intraoral scanner. Get started with digital dentistry and make the switch that can take your practice to the next level. We start you off with a free intraoral scanner, then provide you with training and guidance every step of the way.
Ready to get started with digital dentistry? Meet Dandy today.
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Materials. Optical and Mechanical Properties of Highly Translucent Dental Zirconia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7435650/
Advanced Dental Arts NYC. Your Guide to Zirconia Dental Implants. https://advanceddentalartsnyc.com/everything-about-zirconia-implants/#
AVF Dental Group. Zirconia Crown: Advantages and Disadvantages of Zirconia Crown. https://www.avfdentalgroup.com/zirconia-crown-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-zirconia-crown/