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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Zirconia Crowns

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Zirconia Crowns image

Zirconia crowns provide excellent aesthetics, durability, biocompatibility, and tooth preservation. 

Zirconia crowns have become increasingly popular in dentistry in recent years. While there are many advantages and disadvantages of zirconia crowns to consider, they have gained recognition and acceptance among both dental professionals and patients as a high-quality option for dental restorations and cosmetic treatments. This is principally due to their ability to deliver excellent aesthetics, durability, biocompatibility, and tooth preservation while providing a metal-free alternative.

Current market trends are also driving demand for zirconia crown restorations, and advancing technology and materials are eliminating many of the zirconia dental crowns disadvantages that were once associated with the product. 

And while zirconia crown restorations can be more expensive than alternative options, the superior treatment outcomes you can achieve with zirconia crowns typically increase patient satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals.  

Market demand for zirconia crowns

Zirconia’s superior aesthetic properties align well with the increasing market demand for natural-looking dental restorations and cosmetic treatments. Zirconia crowns closely resemble natural teeth, which has made them a popular choice among patients who value restorations that blend seamlessly with their natural teeth.

There is also a growing trend toward minimally invasive dentistry, where preserving natural tooth structure is prioritised. Zirconia crowns require minimal tooth reduction compared to some other types of crowns, which enables a conservative approach. Many patients appreciate the preservation of their natural teeth, and offering zirconia crowns aligns with this trend of minimally invasive treatment options.

And with growing awareness of allergies and sensitivities to certain materials – including metals – patients are more commonly seeking metal-free alternatives for dental restorations. Zirconia crowns offer a metal-free option that is biocompatible and well-tolerated by the body. 

Advancing technology and materials

At the same time, advancements in dental technology and materials have significantly improved the fabrication and performance of zirconia crowns. 

Computer-aided design and manufacturing technology ensures precise fit and aesthetics, and advancements in zirconia materials have led to the development of high-quality, high-translucency zirconia options. 

For example, Avant uses Aidite 3D Pro Zir to manufacture our zirconia restorations. Aidite 3D Pro Zir is manufactured using a gradient layering process that achieves chip-proof construction and wears at the same rate as natural enamel.

Advanced milling machines and sintering ovens have also improved the efficiency and precision of fabricating zirconia crowns, and ensure precise shaping and sizing of zirconia restorations to achieve accurate fit and excellent marginal integrity. 

For example, Avant uses a sophisticated digital system to design, mill, grind, stain and glaze a wide range of Zirconia dental restoration products in our state-of-the-art lab

Virtual articulation technology enables dentists to simulate the patient’s bite and occlusion digitally to ensure the proper alignment and function of zirconia crowns, and digital shade-matching technologies have been developed to accurately match the colour and translucency of zirconia crowns with the patient’s natural teeth. These technologies have effectively improved the aesthetic outcome of zirconia crowns, which enhances patient satisfaction and continues to drive their popularity. 

Pricing structure for zirconia crowns 

Zirconia crowns are typically more expensive than traditional metal-based crowns or porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns. The higher cost is primarily due to the advanced materials and manufacturing processes involved in creating zirconia restorations. Costs may also vary depending on the complexity of the case, the number of units required, and the expertise of the dental professional.

As such, each dental practice typically has its own pricing structure for zirconia crowns. Some practices may offer different pricing tiers for different types of zirconia crowns or additional services bundled with the crown placement.

Zirconia crowns are typically fabricated in dental laboratories using CAD/CAM technology. The availability of skilled dental technicians and laboratories proficient in manufacturing zirconia restorations can influence the availability, cost and turnaround time for zirconia crowns.

Improving treatment outcomes

But it’s worth working hard to get your pricing structure right. Zirconia crowns can offer several benefits to your dental practice in terms of patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes. 

Of course, successful treatment outcomes are built on best-practice preparation. That’s why Avant works closely with dentists through the treatment planning phase to ensure all our zirconia restorations are designed and manufactured to meet precise individual patient specifications. 

By offering zirconia crowns as a treatment option, you can provide your patients with aesthetically pleasing, durable, and biocompatible restorations – while preserving more of their natural tooth structure. This can lead to higher patient satisfaction, positive word-of-mouth referrals, and improved treatment outcomes. 

However, there are many zirconia crowns advantages and disadvantages to consider. 

Zirconia crowns advantages

Zirconia crowns offer several advantages compared to other types of dental crowns. Here are some of the key zirconia crowns advantages:

1. Superior aesthetics:

Zirconia crowns are highly aesthetic and can closely mimic the appearance of natural teeth. They are translucent and can be colour-matched to blend seamlessly with the patient’s surrounding teeth to result in a more natural-looking smile.

2. Long-term durability:

Zirconia is an exceptionally strong and durable material. It is resistant to chipping, cracking, and wear, which makes it highly suitable for dental restorations. Zirconia crowns are durable enough to withstand the forces of biting and chewing to provide long-lasting restoration results.

3. Biocompatibility:

Zirconia is a biocompatible material, meaning it is well-tolerated by the body and does not typically cause adverse reactions or allergies. It is a non-metallic material, which also makes it an excellent choice for patients with metal sensitivities.

4. Maximum tooth preservation:

Perhaps one of the most important zirconia crowns advantages is the minimal tooth preparation they require compared to other types of crowns. In many cases, less enamel removal is necessary, which allows for better preservation of the natural tooth structure. This conservative approach helps maintain the overall strength and integrity of the tooth.

5. Precision fit:

Zirconia crowns are precisely fabricated using computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing technology. This ensures a custom fit, reduces the risk of gaps or inaccuracies. and improves overall comfort and function. At Avant, for example, we operate a state-of-the-art Zirconia lab with a sophisticated digital system to design, mill, grind, stain and glaze a wide range of Zirconia dental restoration products. 

6. Strength without metal:

Zirconia crowns offer high strength without the need for a metal substructure. This makes them an excellent alternative to traditional metal-based crowns for patients who prefer a metal-free option.

7. Stain resistance:

Zirconia is highly resistant to staining and discoloration, unlike some other dental materials. This can help maintain the natural appearance of the crown over time and reduce the need for frequent maintenance or replacement.

Zirconia crowns disadvantages

While zirconia crowns have numerous advantages, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider. Here are some zirconia crowns disadvantages to keep in mind:

1. Thickness:

Zirconia crowns historically tended to be thicker than other types of crowns, such as porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns. The increased thickness often led to a slightly bulkier appearance, particularly in cases where minimal tooth reduction is possible. However, in many cases, this is no longer a problem because advancements in technology have allowed for the creation of thinner zirconia crowns.

2. Cost:

One of the major zirconia dental crowns disadvantages is their affordability. Zirconia crowns are generally more expensive than traditional metal-based crowns or porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns. The higher cost is primarily due to the advanced materials and manufacturing processes involved in creating zirconia restorations. However, efficiency gains achieved with digital workflows and new manufacturing technologies help to mitigate this cost. 

3. Adjustment difficulty:

Compared to other materials like porcelain, zirconia can be more challenging to adjust or modify after placement. Once the crown is fabricated and cemented in place, it is difficult to make changes if any alterations or adjustments are needed. This may require the complete replacement of the crown rather than simple adjustments. However, the precision and accuracy of modern-day intraoral scanners and digital dentistry has drastically reduced this problem. That’s why it’s so important to build a relationship with a trusted lab that has invested in the latest digital technologies.

4. Limited translucency:

While zirconia crowns are known for their aesthetic qualities, they historically did not possess the same level of translucency as natural teeth or certain porcelain restorations. This has been largely solved in recent zirconia products that are manufactured at optimal temperatures with shorter sintering times to improve translucency. For example, Avant offers ultra-high transparency zirconia veneers that also exhibit superior strength than traditional glass ceramic veneer materials.

5. Wear on opposing teeth:

While zirconia is a highly durable material, its hardness can lead to increased wear on the teeth that come into contact with it. In some cases, zirconia crowns may cause more wear on the opposing natural teeth or restorations over time. However, the use of an occlusal splint  can effectively prevent this wear.

6. Potential for fracture:

Although zirconia is a highly durable material, it can still be susceptible to fracture under extreme forces or if exposed to excessive stress. This risk is relatively low, but it is important for patients to avoid habits like biting on hard objects or teeth grinding (bruxism) to minimise the chances of crown fracture. Again, the use of an occlusal splint can solve this issue.

7. Patient sensitivity:

Some patients may experience temporary tooth sensitivity after the placement of zirconia crowns. However, this sensitivity is usually mild and subsides over time.

In conclusion, while there are many zirconia crowns advantages and disadvantages to consider,  zirconia crowns have gained recognition and acceptance in the dental industry due to their ability to provide excellent aesthetics, durability, biocompatibility, and tooth preservation. 

Advancements in computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies, advanced milling and sintering techniques, and digital shade matching have enhanced the precision, fit, and aesthetics of zirconia crowns. At the same time, the market demand for zirconia crowns aligns with trends to natural-looking restorations, minimally invasive dentistry, and metal-free alternatives. 

While zirconia crowns may have a higher cost compared to other options, the superior treatment outcomes they offer can increase patient satisfaction and result in positive referrals.

Want to learn more about zirconia preparations?
Watch our free on-demand webinar: Zirconia Preparations – Critical Success Factors

Want to find out more about partnering with Avant for cutting-edge zirconia preparations?
Please email [email protected] or phone 1800 287 336.

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