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Zirconia crowns and Zirconia in dentistry

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

Zirconia or zirconium is the hardest known ceramic in industry and the strongest material used in dentistry.

The zirconia used in dentistry is zirconium oxide, which has been stabilized with the addition of yttrium oxide.

Zirconium is a very hard white ceramic that comes in the form of solid blocks of various shapes and sizes. For processing, it requires sophisticated computer systems (CAD/CAM systems).

zirconia restorations

zirconia restorations

Features and benefits

Zirconium is a recently emerged material that has revolutionized dentistry. Because of its exceptional qualities, it can be utilized for various purposes.

  • Zirconia is extremely durable and tough. It's basically the strongest material used in dentistry to this point.

  • Because it is a white ceramic with very good translucency features, zirconium restorations are highly aesthetic because they do not contain any metal in their structure.

  • The zirconia core structure can be layered with aesthetic porcelain to create the final color and shape of the tooth.

  • Similar to gold, it is very well tolerated by the body, has no allergic effects and, because it is not a metal, it never corrodes.

  • Because they are executed by computer systems, zirconium-based prostheses are highly precise.

  • Unfortunately, it is still extremely expensive. Both the material itself and the necessary processing equipment lead to a high final cost.


  • Base material for porcelain restorations

    Almost any type of fixed prosthetic restoration can be constructed using porcelain fused to zirconium. The structures are extremely durable and resistant and have excellent aesthetics.

    porcelain crown with zirconia substructure

    porcelain crown with zirconia substructure

    zirconia against metal base restorations

    zirconia against metal base restorations

    In this situation, the zirconia core structure is layered with porcelain and is mainly used for anterior (front) teeth where aesthetics is the top priority.

  • Full zirconia restorations

    Because bond strength of layered porcelain fused to zirconia is not so strong, crowns and bridges may be entirely constructed of the zirconia ceramic with no aesthetic porcelain layered on top.

    full zirconium crowns

    full zirconia crowns and bridges

    The restorations will have a white color and they are mainly indicated in areas where aesthetic demands are not extremely high.

  • Dental implants

    Normally, dental implants are made of titanium alloys. The abutments attached to the implants can be prefabricated from zirconia.

    For best aesthetic results, the implant-supported denture will also have a zirconia structure. This way the entire implant reconstruction will be metal free.

    There is a limited number of situations when the entire implant and the abutment are made of zirconia. The success rate of such devices is not entirely known.

    zirconia for dental implants

Zirconium is processed exclusively by computerized systems, requiring sophisticated equipment of high accuracy. These devices are called CAD/CAM systems and, besides zirconia, they may be used for other types of restorations (e.g. all-ceramic crowns, veneers, inlays etc).

Last review and update: February 2019

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