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Zirconia Crowns vs Porcelain Crowns

This post aims to end the debate surrounding zirconia crowns vs. porcelain crowns.

If you are looking for dental crowns, you may have many questions. Some of those questions must be regarding the crowns you should choose for your teeth.

Understanding what types of crowns are available in the market and how they may or may not work for you will help you make an informed decision.

In this article:

  • What are zirconia crowns?
  • What are porcelain crowns?
  • How are they similar and different?
  • Which crowns should you choose for your teeth?

Let’s dive right in.

What are dental crowns?

Commonly known as dental caps, crowns are covers that dentists put over your teeth. They look like natural teeth and work like natural teeth.

If you have a chipped or broken tooth, a crown is an option to prevent further damage.

You can treat the holes in your teeth left by injury, tooth decay, or cavity with composite fillings. If composite fillings are insufficient to treat your problem, your dentist may recommend crowns.

You can choose to have a crown on one tooth or a set of crowns over many teeth simultaneously.

What materials are crowns made of?

Dental crowns are made of the following:

  • Metals (gold, nickel, palladium, and chromium)
  • Porcelain (all-porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal: PFM)
  • Resin (all-resin)
  • Ceramics (all-ceramic and pressed ceramic)

Ref: British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry

What are zirconia crowns?

Zirconia crowns are a new kind of dental crown. They became a part of the cosmetic dentistry industry only in the 2010s.

They are made from zirconium dioxide. It is a variation of zirconium (Zr), whose chemical properties resemble the properties of titanium, cerium, and thorium.

Zirconium dioxide has low thermal conductivity and high heat resistance. That is why nuclear stations across the globe use more the 90% of the produced zirconium.

Naturally, crowns made from zirconium receive their inherent qualities.

There are two types of zirconia crowns in the market. They are:

  • Solid or monolithic zirconia crowns
  • Zirconia crowns layered with porcelain.

Zirconia crowns: advantages

  • They are corrosion-resistant.
  • Because of their biocompatibility, they do not cause an allergic reaction in patients.
  • They are the toughest crowns available on the market.
  • Since they are tough, they are best for the back of your mouth.
  • If you have the habit of grinding your teeth, zirconia can be a blessing for you.
  • They can be cemented easily.
  • They do not leave a metal margin in case your gums recede.
  • Zirconia can do both crowns and bridges.
  • They are highly customizable.
  • Since they are heat-resistant, they do not get extremely hot or cold in your mouth.
  • They come in various shades and can easily match your natural teeth.

Zirconia crowns: Problems

  • Because of their toughness, zirconia crowns may damage your opposite teeth. Such a situation may occur following dental misalignment or injury.
  • If you have to remove your crowns for some reason, removing zirconia may be tough. Their strength goes against them in this regard.
  • They are expensive. Each of them will cost you between $1000 and $3000.

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What are porcelain crowns?

Porcelain crowns are made from translucent ceramic material porcelain. They are also called ceramic crowns.

There are two types of porcelain crowns in the market:

  • Complete porcelain or solid porcelain.
  • Porcelain fused to metal (PFM). These are metal crowns with a layer of porcelain on them.

Between them, solid porcelain crowns are more natural-looking than porcelain fused to metal crowns.

On the other hand, historical data shows that crowns made from porcelain fused with metal are more durable than solid porcelain crowns. The durability comes from the metal.

You can use porcelain crowns on a single tooth, implant, multiple teeth, or for your full-mouth dental restoration.

According to a paper published in New Zealand Dental Journal (2013, Sep: 98-105), porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns have a survival rate of 97% after 10 years.

Porcelain crowns: advantages

  • Porcelain crowns do not cause allergies in patients. If you are allergic to metals, all-porcelain crowns are for you.
  • They offer excellent aesthetic potential. Technicians can play with the shade of these crowns and create the desired depth you may want to match your natural teeth.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are highly durable.
  • All-porcelain crowns are highly recommended for front teeth.
  • Porcelain crowns are biocompatible and well-received by the human body. They pose no health risk
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are good value for money. Their cost starts from $800 per crown.

Porcelain crowns: problems

  • All-porcelain crowns are not strong enough for the back of your mouth.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are not suitable for the front of your mouth. The metal can be visible if your gums recede.
  • PFM crowns look rather dull on your teeth, as they do not transmit as much light as your healthy and natural teeth.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, if used for the front of your mouth, require a layer of opaque porcelain to mask the color of the metal. That comes with a problem. The outermost porcelain layer will be thinner because the opaque porcelain layer will take up some of the available space. This can be fixed only by reducing the natural tooth size, which is not recommended.

Zirconia crowns vs. porcelain crowns: at a glance

Zirconia CrownsPorcelain Crowns
Do not cause allergyDo not cause allergy
Toughest crownPFM is tough; all-porcelain is not so tough
PriceyLess pricey. All-porcelain is pricier than PFM
OpaqueAll porcelain is translucent. PFM is not so much
Not suitable for front teethAll-porcelain is not good for back teeth
May harm opposite teethMay break while chewing hard objects/food
Table: Zirconia crowns vs. porcelain crowns: a comparison

Zirconia crowns vs. porcelain crowns: which ones to choose?

The choice depends on the situation you are in.

If you are young, choose zirconia as they last longer.

Do you need crowns for your front teeth? Choose all-porcelain.

Do you need crowns for the back of your mouth? Choose zirconia. They are the toughest. They are opaque, but nobody will see the color of the teeth at the end of your jaw.

If you are looking for something less expensive but need crowns for the back of your mouth, choose porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns.

Both zirconia and all-porcelain crowns are biocompatible. None will cause you allergy.

If you are worried about discoloration, choose zirconia.

If you want crowns that will not crack or fracture, choose zirconia.


  • This recommendation is for educational and entertainment purposes only. You should always seek professional advice before making a health-related decision.
  • If you are interested in crowns for your teeth, your first point of contact should be your dentist.
  • Your dentist will be able to recommend the best options for you based on the condition of your teeth and oral hygiene.

Final Word

Now that you have come to the end of the post, it will be easier for you to understand your dentist’s recommendations for restoring your teeth. Zirconia crowns vs porcelain crowns should not be a debate for you anymore.

We always recommend asking your dentist many questions before agreeing to a dental procedure.

Crowns, veneers, implants, or composite fillings are complicated and require your full attention.

Which are better: zirconia crowns or porcelain crowns?

Zirconia crowns, made from zirconium dioxide, are the strongest non-metallic crowns in the market. They are best for the back of your mouth. They should be your choice if you have bruxism. But they are opaque and do not transmit as much light as porcelain crowns. That’s why porcelain crowns are best for the front teeth.

How long do zirconia crowns last?

Zirconia crowns are designed to last at least 20 years. With proper oral hygiene, they may last even longer. They do not crack or chip like all-porcelain crowns. Understand that crowns sit on your natural teeth or implants. They work together. Therefore, the life of your zirconia crowns will also depend on the teeth they are cemented to.

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