Zirconia vs Porcelain Crowns

In the past, dentists used to rely on gold, metal alloys, and porcelain for dental crowns. Metals provided the strength and porcelain offered premium aesthetics. People had to choose between a good working tooth or a good looking tooth. Now dentists can use zirconia as a dental crown option. Zirconia is a ceramic so the color can be adjusted to match the surrounding teeth and it has a crystal like structure offering superior strength and durability. The down side to zirconia is that it does not have the translucence that porcelain and natural teeth have. Consequently, all zirconia crowns have proven to work for teeth towards the back of your mouth and for single tooth repair. Porcelain crowns are ideal for teeth that are located at the front of your smile and have limited use when biting and chewing. Dentists are even combining the different materials to limit the disadvantages and to lean into the advantages.

Combining porcelain and metal results in porcelain fused to metal crowns to give the crown the strength of metal and natural look of the porcelain. The down side to this option is the metal can show a dark color line along the gums and becomes more prominent when the gums recede.

Combining zirconia and porcelain results in a full zirconia crown with a small window removed from the front facing portion of the crown. The window is replaced with porcelain giving the crown the difficult to destruct properties of zirconia and the natural transparency of porcelain.

Not every material is ideal for all crowns and you may not be an ideal candidate for one material or the other based on your expectations of the dental treatment. It is important to talk to the dentist about all your options before you move forward with your dental crown.

Why Choose Zirconia Over Porcelain?

  1. Zirconia is stronger than porcelain. When you think of your teeth, you may take for granted they are as durable as they are. If you are someone with a heavy bite, a tooth grinding or clenching issue, or you may need to consider the strongest material possible. Some zirconia crowns can be fabricated from a single, solid block of zirconia providing you with a dental crown that can withstand all the daily demands of your teeth.
  2. Zirconia is one of the only materials used in medicine and dentistry that is considered biocompatible. Many people are familiar with titanium and its use in joint replacements and implants. Zirconia is just like titanium but it is metal free. Your body will have a very, very small chance of having an allergic reaction or outright rejection to zirconia.
  3. Zirconia is a ceramic so the dentist is able to adjust the color to match the surrounding teeth. Unlike the metal line that is visible on porcelain crowns along the gums, zirconia will have the look of a natural tooth along the gumline.
  4. Zirconia crowns can be made very thin without risking the durability or strength. The dentist will be able to fit the crown well without having to remove as much of the underlying tooth as a porcelain crown requires.

How Long Do Zirconia Crowns Last?