What is a Zirconia Crown?

Zirconia crowns on a black background

Zirconia crowns are the strongest type of dental crown available on the market at this moment. Like any other crown, they work as a cap that sits on top of an existing tooth and improves tooth function. Zirconia crowns are simply one particular option among many, and depending on your specific dental needs, they may or may not be your best option.

Zirconia crowns are derived from zirconium, which is a metal that is closely related to titanium. Titanium is a metal commonly used in medical and dental hardwares because of its biocompatibility. Essentially, titanium is compatible with the living tissues of the body and its use decreases the likelihood of infection, allergic reaction, or other post surgical complications.

Through a chemical process known as the Kroll process, the metallic zirconium is reduced to zirconium oxide powder, which is no longer a metal. This zirconium oxide powder is more commonly known as zirconia and is a ceramic material. Since this reduction process yields a ceramic substance derived from a metal, zirconia crowns have the strength of metal crowns without the metal erosion that can occur over time.

Dentists use zirconia crowns because they are extremely durable, but also because they are easy to manufacture. Dentists purchase zirconia by the block and then break down this block into the tooth-shaped crowns. In order to obtain the correct shape, a CAD CAM computerized cutting machine is used to shape the zirconia into teeth.

Once the crown has been correctly shaped to match the patient’s existing tooth, it can then be directly placed into the patient’s mouth. This is another reason why zirconia crowns are used by dentists. The entire crown process, from manufacture to placement, can be completed in a single dental appointment, saving time for both the patient and the dentist.

Other than their durability and ease of placement, the most recognizable benefit of zirconia crowns are their aesthetic appeal. For starters, the natural color of zirconia is white and the ceramic texture in coordination with the color creates a translucent effect. This effect makes teeth look natural, yet enhanced while also providing even coloring. They also bond well with existing teeth, meaning that less damage will be done to existing teeth during the placement process.

However zirconia does have a few disadvantages. Some people worry about friction or excess wear on the surrounding teeth as a result of zirconia’s tough surface. This is usually not an issue, however, and regular dental checkups can ensure this does not happen. Still, others may not be satisfied with the color of zirconia. Recent developments have already begun to address this issue and this disadvantage only affects a small number of people.

The final disadvantage of zirconia crowns is the cost. They are the strongest dental crown available, but they are also the most expensive. However, they last longer than other crowns because of their durability, and are still a cheaper alternative to other dental restoration treatments that include the use of porcelain.

Interested in learning more about zirconia crowns? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Hoang today!