When it comes to cosmetic dental treatment, zirconia crowns are favorite with many patients. This simple but in-depth guide will tell you why.
What are zirconia crowns?
Zirconia is a compound of zirconium and oxygen. Chemically, this compound is known as zirconium dioxide.
Dental crowns made from this compound are called zirconia crowns.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns were the gold standard for dental cosmetics treatment for a long time. But since 2010, the trend has shifted towards zirconia dental crowns.
That is because they are virtually indestructible. They offer excellent aesthetic potential too.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Dentistry (2020), zirconia crowns are fracture-resistant. They have low corrosion potential and good radiographic contrast.
Another study published in Medicine in 2019 states that these crowns work well with living tissues.
5 dental problems you can treat with zirconia crowns
Since its foray into the dental treatment industry, zirconia has come far within a short time. Today you may choose zirconia as a treatment option if you:
- Want to repair a cracked or broken tooth
- Have a highly discolored tooth to hide (masking)
- Want to give proper shape to a misshapen tooth
- Require the crowns on your implants repaired
- Zirconia can help complete dental treatments like bridges and root canals
2 types of zirconia crowns to fulfill your cosmetic dental needs
Material-wise, there are two types of zirconia crowns to choose from. They are:
- Monolithic crowns
- Layered crowns
What are monolithic zirconia crowns? What kind of teeth are they good for?
Monolithic zirconia crowns are made from solid zirconia. They are the strongest dental crowns ever. They are at least three times stronger than porcelain fused metal crowns, which are known for their strength and durability.
Because of their strength, doctors generally recommend them for the back end of your dental arch. Teeth at that location must withstand huge pressure as you eat something hard.
They are also good for those patients that have grown the habit of teeth grinding or clenching. Grinding may disqualify you from having crowns at all. But based on the severity of the habit, your doctor may be able to come up with a custom treatment plan for you.
Monolithic zirconia crowns are a little bit opaque. You can match them to the color of your natural teeth, but because of not having the right opacity, doctors recommend them for the back of your mouth.
What are layered zirconia crowns, and how are they suitable for the front of your mouth?
Layered crowns have a layer of porcelain on them. They have nice translucent color. That makes them suitable for the front of your mouth.
They are not as strong as monolithic crowns. But they are still stronger than all-porcelain crowns.
They offer more aesthetic potential than monolithic zirconia crowns.
Full-contour zirconia crowns are full-strength, monolithic crowns. They are made from solid zirconia and are recommended for the back of your mouth. They are versatile. They can be used as a single crown, bridge, or on the implant. Some doctors may recommend them for the front of your mouth as well. They believe a diligently chosen translucency can dramatically improve their aesthetic value. After years of research and experimentation, today’s dental cosmetics industry has developed the capability to do that. Besides, if there is not enough room for a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown, full-contour zirconia crowns can be used instead.
10 top reasons you should choose zirconia over other crowns for your dental treatment
Zirconia is an industry leader for many reasons. It has noticeable advantages over other types of dental crowns available today. Here we have compiled the most important ones.
- Zirconia crowns are virtually indestructible.
- They can withstand huge pressure and are suitable for the back of your mouth.
- They can be applied to a decayed tooth to stop it from decaying further.
- Zirconia crowns last much longer than 15 years, while other crowns may require replacement sooner.
- Your body receives them well, as they are compatible with living tissues.
- Color-matching is possible. Thus zirconia is suitable for front teeth as well. Doctors recommend layered zirconia (layered with porcelain) for front teeth.
- Teeth grinding up to a certain level is ok, provided you use mouthguards to protect your crowns and other natural teeth.
- Lab technicians can make a custom-designed zirconia dental crown for you on the day of your treatment. That means you do not have to wait months before receiving your crowns.
- Zirconia’s manufacturing cost is low.
- Its manufacturing failure rate is also very low.
Zirconia vs. porcelain ceramic: which is better?
Zirconia is much better than porcelain when it comes to the longevity of the crown.
According to information available in the industry, zirconia is designed to last up to 20 years. There is medical proof that about 75% of them last over seven years.
A porcelain crown, in comparison, will require replacement by that time. Therefore, if you are a young patient, you should get zirconia.
If longevity is not a concern for you, and you want fancier teeth, you may choose porcelain.
However, there is a compromise between the two. Porcelain-layered zirconia is a good option for your front teeth. The back of your mouth will still need zirconia, as it can handle more pressure than porcelain and will not break or fracture easily.
Porcelain is fancier because it is translucent. In contrast, zirconia is opaque and faces difficulty matching the color of your natural teeth.
Financially speaking, zirconia will cost you more than porcelain.
Zirconia vs. porcelain: which is better? It depends on you, the circumstances you are in, the kind of treatment you need, and your overall oral condition.
8 main disadvantages of zirconia crowns that you should be aware of
- They are not as beautiful as porcelain crowns. That is because they are opaque. Light cannot pass through them, making them look darker than your natural teeth.
- They do not have enamel on them. The enamel helps teeth guard against harmful substances like food acids, debris, and bacteria.
- It is possible that they will harm the opposite natural teeth. There are instances when a zirconia crown cracked its opposite tooth. Such a situation may occur when misalignment happens. Gum disease or cavity may be a root cause for this.
- Crowns may require readjustments. If your zirconia begins to hurt your opposite tooth, your doctor may want to file it to relieve the pressure. The strength of zirconia, which is its number one advantage, will work against you. Filing zirconia crowns is a tough job.
- Although very strong, they do not last forever. According to an estimate, about 75% of zirconia crowns will stay in good condition after seven years. The rest will have to be replaced.
- Can zirconia crowns leak? Yes, if their margins are not properly sealed. This may result in further complications, as bacteria may cause tooth decay under the crown.
- Once bonded, it may be hard to remove them. The removal process may affect the natural teeth under your zirconia crowns. Removal will cost you, and the new crown to replace it will cost you again.
- It is a relatively new technology that started only in the 2010s. It needs time to mature. With two decades under its belt, it will have more clinical studies than we have now.
Zirconia crowns are designed to last up to 20 years. That is, of course, a lab estimate. They came to the market only in the 2010s, although zirconium was discovered in 1789. We don’t have any patient who has used this crown for 20 years to see what happens after that. However, it can be stated that zirconia is the strongest of all non-metal crowns available within the dental cosmetics industry. They are three times more durable than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and are resistant to chipping or fracturing. Still, only 75% of zirconia crowns survive after 7 years, the rest requiring replacement. That means the longevity of zirconia depends on individual oral hygiene and the expertise of the lab that made them.
5 popular zirconia brands that make awesome crowns
BruxZir is one of the most prescribed full-contour zirconia brands in the market right now. They work with monolithic zirconia.
They have many different solutions for cosmetic dental patients, including:
- BruxZir esthetic zirconia
- BruxZir full-strength zirconia
- BruxZir implant prosthesis
NuSmile’s ZR Permanent Molar Crowns are made of Japanese Y-TZP monolithic zirconia ceramic. They are thinner than the custom crowns you may receive from your doctor’s dental lab. That means preparing your teeth for zirconia requires less reduction.
NuSmile offers two different solutions for zirconia dental crowns. They are:
- NuSmile ZR Zirconia
- NuSmile ZR Zirconia Permanent Molars
3. KDZ Bruxer
KDZ Bruxer crowns are developed by Keating Dental Lab. They are ten times stronger than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and three-six times tougher than typical zirconia.
The manufacturer has two products:
- KDZ Bruxer: For the back of your mouth.
- KDZ Bruxer Aesthetic: For the front teeth.
Sagemax produces five zirconia disks for creating custom dental crowns. They are NexxZr S, NexxZr T, NexxZr T Multi, NexxZr+, and NexxZr+ Multi.
NexxZr S is for maximum opacity crowns, and NexxZr T is for medium opacity crowns. NexxZr T Multi contains multilayer zirconium, while NexxZr+ is for high-lucency dental restoration.
According to Sagemax, NexxZr+ has a 46% lucency rate. They can be used for the back or the front of your mouth.
Finally, NexxZr+ Multi is for multilayer zirconia crowns with natural aesthetics.
Sprig manufactures EZCrowns. They are based in California, where they make crowns from solid, monolithic zirconia.
Their crowns come in a polychromatic shade, which blends with your natural teeth easily.
EZCrowns enjoys what is called a ‘flat-fit’ style. That helps them sit evenly and safely on the teeth.
They also include ‘Zir-Lock’ system. This system helps them bond with your teeth fast. In addition, it helps seal off the margins, preventing any leaks in the future.
Special Mention: Shaw Lab Group
Shaw Lab Group is a dental products manufacturer based in Toronto, Canada. They produce several products, including crowns, implants, and dentures. Under Zirconia Restorations, they offer the following:
- ShawZir: Full contour zirconia crowns
- ShawST: Highly translucent full zirconia crowns for the front of your mouth
- Shaw Premium: Zirconia crowns with porcelain layer for complex dental solution
How much do zirconia crowns cost?
Single-tooth zirconia treatment will cost you between $1000 and $2000. This is an average price. In smaller cities, the price may start at $800.
If you live outside the USA, your price may vary drastically based on location.
Many people believe in medical tourism. If you are one of them, you may have your treatment completed at a fraction of that price.
Note: It is not only the cost of the crown that you should be ready for. You may have to pay for different scans and exams related to your treatment. They will cost you money.
For example, your base tooth may not be thick enough to hold a crown. Your doctor must work on it to prepare it for the crown.
Then, you may need dental exams that were not previously expected. That may cost you an extra fee.
Ask your doctor to break down the cost of your treatment to you. If you do not understand something, ask.
Zirconia crowns are biocompatible. They do not cause allergies in patients. If you have allergies to porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, you may switch to zirconia. But you should not take anything for granted. Ask your doctor to do a patch skin test at your consultation meeting. Understanding if you are allergic to zirconia may take hours or even days. You can also ask to see any literature on the clinical trial of zirconia on this topic.
E-max crowns are made from Lithium Disilicate glass, while zirconia crowns are made from zirconium dioxide. Both are ceramic products and are durable. E-max, however, is more translucent than zirconia. If you have bruxism, choose zirconia. E-max may give up under extreme pressure. Then, if you are masking the front of your mouth, choose E-max. They match your natural teeth better. E-max may cost you more than zirconia in many parts of the world.
We have spoken again and again about the strength and durability of zirconia crowns in this article. We only wanted to state the truth.
But understand that durability does not guarantee that your crowns will last long. If you develop the habit of teeth grinding, you may harm your crowns. At the same time, your crowns may harm your opposite teeth.
Always maintain good oral health. There is no alternative to that. Your natural teeth and your crowns will thank you for that.
In the meantime, do not stop seeing your doctor. Your doctor will be able to warn you if there is any decay or trend that you need to take care of.