Thanks to its extreme durability and natural look, zirconia crown is getting more and more popular. Read this page to find out more about its advantages, disadvantages, costs and crowns similar to zirconium crowns.
What is dental zirconia?
The dental zirconia is zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), which is a powdered form of zirconium. Since the 1990s, zirconia is used for endodontic posts and implants. (Endodontic post helps you retain your restorations and fillings as well as crowns.)
Zirconia crowns are the strongest dental crowns. They are made of zirconium, which is a silicate invented by a German chemist called M. H. Klaproth in 1789. Since the 1960s, zirconia has various medical uses. It is extremely durable and 100% biocompatible, zirconia is used for various prosthesis in surgeries of hip, finger and ear.
Types of zirconia
There are two types of zirconia: solid and high translucent. Both of them can be made using the CAD CAM technology. CAD stands for Computer Aided Designing and CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacturing. These technologies give you a precise fit and unmatchable look.
- As the name suggests solid zirconia is tougher compared to the high translucent zirconia. It can withstand chewing forces as well as bruxism forces better.
- Solid zirconia also suits root canal treated teeth, by offering stronger support to weak teeth.
- As it’s opaque, it’s more suited for posterior/ back teeth.
High translucent zirconia
- This is a type of zirconia which gives you superior looks that exactly resemble your natural teeth. It is more suited for anterior/ front teeth.
- Though it is superior in looks, its strength is higher than PFM/ Porcelain Fused to Metal bridges.
- If you need extensive orthodontic treatment to correct the alignment of your teeth, your dentist may not prefer high translucent zirconia.
Advantages of Having Zirconium Crown
Zirconium is becoming one of the most chosen materials for dental crowns. Its many advantages include:
- Superior looks: as zirconia is white naturally, it allows the transformations to any shade which match with the rest of your teeth. Zirconia is translucent, thus, it mimics the translucency of your natural teeth.
- More confident smile: zirconia has no metal lining at the gums. Porcelain fused to metal crowns were popular earlier, however they have a metal layer underneath the porcelain layer which is on top of the crown. This fusion / metal lining is visible usually at the gum line. This is more evident when you smile. Zirconia crowns help you get over this and boost your confidence. You can also give zirconia any shape/ size to match the rest of your teeth.
- 100% biocompatible: no zirconia crown allergy has been reported so far.
- Extraordinarily tough: zirconia is the strongest crown, it can withstand wear and tear. It does not chip off, unlike porcelain. If you maintain it well, it can stay in your mouth forever. It is at least five times stronger than porcelain or porcelain fused to metal/ PFM. It also tolerates chewing or biting forces well. It has a very high flexural strength: zirconia has a flexural strength of 1200 MPa. (Flexural strength is the force that your crown tolerates.)
- They bond well with your tooth: zirconia crowns adhere well to your tooth. One of the reasons why PFM crowns were the preferred choice is that the metal surface bonds well with the tooth and holds the crown in place. Zirconia also has this property. These crowns requie less tooth removal than many other types of dental crowns.
- Metal free: many people used to prefer gold crowns because of its excellent physical properties. However, now since looks are more important to people, they want to look natural and young. Some people also don’t like having metals in their body. Zirconia is most suited for them.
The aesthetic effects alone of a zirconia crown should be the biggest advantage it can give. It is important that you have dental crowns that will look natural especially if it will be placed at the front teeth and will be visible beside the natural teeth.
The capacity of zirconium to be modified according to the set of teeth it will be placed alongside with is very important. Zirconium crown will not only replace a tooth but it can be shaped so that it will look better than the one it will be replacing. This is why you can spot that perfect natural looking smile anytime.
Zirconia manufacturers are now producing and designing dental crowns custom milled from solid block of the material and baked at ultra high temperatures to ensure that the finished crowns are almost indestructible.
Advantages of Zirconium Crowns over Gold Crowns and Porcelain Crowns
It is a fact that gold crowns have been used by many people for so many years and it is well tolerated by the body. But it is still better to be able to show that natural effect when you smile. Add the fact that gold is metal and some people just do not like having metals in their internal parts.
Zirconium crowns are definitely more robust than porcelain crowns. They last longer too, compared to porcelain that chip and break.
Porcelain crowns also need to be fused to a metal base and the metal is that black unsightly line above the gums of people with porcelain crowns.
Since Zirconium crowns are milled from a chunk of crystal, they are guaranteed to be at least 5 times stronger than porcelain and it metal fuse. Zirconium crowns also provide strength without that bulky appearance that porcelain is so known for.
Disadvantages of Using Zirconium Crowns:
- May wear out the opposing teeth: as zirconia crowns are too tough, they may prove stronger against your natural teeth.
- Secondary caries / tooth decay: another disadvantage is that, although the crown itself will be almost indestructible; the decay underneath it caused by the abrasion of the hard material against the other teeth is not noticeable. You will only realize that there is decay once the crown falls off.
- Expensive: zirconia crowns may cost you more than other crowns. However, it’s almost like a one-time investment if you maintain them well. If you go for a low-cost crown, it may chip off easily and turn out embarrassing as well as expensive in the long run.
How is a zirconium crown prepared?
It is prepared from a single block of zirconia and is known as a monolithic zirconia. Therefore, they are resistant to fracture as well as wear and tear. You can have a zirconia crown via a single sitting as well as multiple sitting appointments.
Earlier zirconia crowns used to have a porcelain layer which used to chip off. Now with the use of monolithic zirconia, your crown does not chip off.
How Much Does a Zirconia Crown Cost?
Zirconium crown prices greatly vary depending on the country you live in, the experience of the dentist and the dental technician providing the treatment, the size of the crown/tooth. However in general it is true that zirconium is the most expensive type of dental crown. Unfortunately the increased durability, the natural look and biocompatibility comes with a price tag...
Prices in the United States are around $1000 per unit and around £600 per unit in the UK. Please be aware that this is only a rough estimate of the average price.
If you need multiple crowns, it might be economical to travel abroad to get the treatment. Zirconium crowns costs around $200/£130 in India, $450/£300 in Hungary and $550/£360 in Mexico.
A few factors to consider:
- If the clinic is in a prime location the charges are higher. If you can travel for 30 minutes, to reach a practice which is a little interior, you can save at least 10%.
- In the U.S. periodontists are the specialists for crowns. Their charges are higher than general dentists.
- Single sitting crowns may be more expensive than multiple sitting crowns. However, they address your need immediately and save your time and the need for multiple appointments.
If you want to know more about prices, read our article about dental crown costs here.
How to Save on Zirconia Crowns?
Discount dental plans offer an easy way to save 20% - 50% on your dental treatment. You only need to show your card at a participating dentist (over 40,000 locations in the US) and you'll pay the reduced rate. No waiting period, no paperwork or claims process.
If you know you need a zirconia crown, apply for a card here and you'll be able to save a couple of hundred dollars on that single treatment. If you need any additional treatment, your savings will be even larger.