Zirconia Vs Porcelain Crowns

Crowns are an age old solution to tooth decay or breakage. Crowns are a form of dental implant wherein a synthetic tooth-like material is bonded to a broken or chipped tooth to maintain integrity. Materials used have ranged throughout the years, from gold to titanium, porcelain, and now commonly Zirconia. What are the main differences?

Porcelain Crowns

Porcelain has an enamel like appearance naturally. Porcelain was prized for dinnerware, because it was similar to ivory, but obtaining it was cruelty free and did not involve hurting animals. The word Porcelain comes from the Italian “procellana”, and refers to the resemblance of a shell; Smooth, shiny, glossy, and opaque, just like a healthy tooth. Porcelain was used interchangeably with “China” to refer to fine dinnerware. Porcelain was originally considered a relatively hard ceramic, which is why it was ideal for dinner plates, bowls and cups. While in appearance, especially at appropriate thickness and opacity, it is ideal for dental implants–it is relatively fragile when compared to Zirconia or Metal implants. It has a hardness on the Mohs scale of 7, is biocompatible, insoluble, and is an ideal choice for crowns or caps at the front of your mouth. These teeth will be scrutinized the most when you smile in the mirror, so aesthetic appearance is a larger part of your decision. While Porcelain itself is biocompatible, oftentimes Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) dental restorations are used, and many patients report unnatural and allergic reactions to the alloys used in PFM crowns.

Zirconia Crowns

Zirconia is a full ceramic oxide derived from Zircon. It has a recorded hardness of 8.5 on the mohs scale, but this is not always true for the thickness of implants. Zirconia has a high hardness at proper thickness and should have no failures; cracks or chips. Breakage would be more common with a porcelain or porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crown. Zirconia is also completely biocompatible, contains no metal, has a semi-opaque semi-translucent appearance naturally, and can typically be fitted and bonded to the patient’s mouth in the same appointment. Zirconia implants are relatively “new” in the timeline of modern dentistry. Studies show that on average a properly fitted Zirconia crown or implant, with proper thickness, should last 20 years and up. The durability and strength cannot be matched. Zirconia crowns are ideal for posterior placement, areas that will require more chewing and mastication than your front teeth. However, Zirconia can also easily be layered with porcelain to achieve an enameled and glossy incisor or canine as necessary. This would give the “best of both worlds” in terms of strength, and appearance, but may leave the crown or implant more prone to a chip over time. This would depend on the strength of the porcelain, thickness of implant, and the care of the crown.

Your smile

No matter what material you choose, when done properly and cared for, these materials will give you your natural looking smile back. Now that you have had your chipped or decayed tooth repaired, remember to share that smile with the world, and care for your implant properly.

Hygiene with Crowns

No matter what materials you use in your crown, cap, bridge, or implant, hygiene must take the front focus. Caring for your teeth and the health of your mouth is a huge first step in making your health a priority. While caring for synthetic teeth is often the same as any other tooth, consult with your dentist or implant team with any additional concerns. As a rule, you should still brush at least twice a day, preferably after meals, and floss regularly. You should use mouthwash occasionally, and maintain regular communication with your Dentist. Make sure you attend scheduled checkups every 6 months or so, dependent on what your dentists recommends. Routine cleanings and checkups will help to identify problems before they begin.

How Long Do Zirconia Crowns Last?