What exactly is a Zirconia crown ?

When people hear the term Zirconia ( patients and even the dental team), do they visualize jewelry? Aren’t those earrings?

Zirconia restorations are becoming more and more popular. Especially with the increase in market value of our dental alloys. There is also an increasing demand for non metal restorations…hmm… Is the Zirconia crown “metal free” ? How do we explain to the patients ?

Inquiring minds want to know ! Even our team wants and needs to know. Because after all it is them closing the deal after you leave the operatory right ?

So lets explain zirconia crowns in two ways:

1. Lets go back to some basic science and find Zirconia’s source, Zirconium on the periodic table. You remember science class right?

Zirconium is a grey – white shiny metasimilar to titanium. It has excellent bio compatibility. It is a great thermal insulator, and has a high resistance to cracks and fractures. Sounds perfect for the hostile environment a dental restoration lives in !

* Fun fact from matcmatch.com – ” Both Zirconium and Titanium have very good chemical properties that allow the growth of osteoblasts “

zirconia crowns material

beautiful crowns made of zirconia

So how do we transform this chunk of metal into a beautiful restoration ?

zirconia powdered for crown production

The Zirconium is processed usually with heat to produce Zirconium dioxide powder. Then fillers are added to achieve the desired shades and optical properties. This is then pressed into a form to create a round disc or block that can be milled into restorations.

These discs and blocks can be made with a solid tint of color or layers with varying colors and opacities, and translucencies optimizing the best esthetic outcome possible.
The manufacturers can make the discs and blocks in strengths ranging from 750 mpa up to 1800 mpa. 

Fun fact : Zirconia’s nickname is “ceramic steel”

zirconia imprints for restoration
dental zirconia crown imprint polished
The restorations are milled, either in it’s entirety or for a  superstructure to layer porcelain on to.
The technician can stain, glaze, and beautify as per the Doctors prescription.
The results really ARE like gems or jewelry.

The future for Zirconia is bright !       

Our industry, and our patients are always striving for better, stronger, long lasting, functional and of course more natural looking results.
There really doesn’t seem to be any limitations on using this material.

Reviewed by, John Zahel RDT,  Spectrum Dental Laboratory

Written by, Roberta Bertram CDA , Spectrum Lab Representative