For some, dental bridges are a necessary implant to help restore their oral health. The loss of a tooth (or multiple teeth) is not something to take lightly, and a dental bridge may be a necessary step. Whether the tooth loss is due to injury or underlying oral health issues, dental bridges are a great option. They not only restore a person’s proper bite but also their confidence. However, not all bridges are created equal: materials matter when it comes to strength, durability, and appearance. A zirconia bridge – also called zirconium bridges – is a relatively new type of dental bridge. It offers the highest level of strength and durability with the most natural-looking appearance.

What is a zirconia bridge?

A zirconia bridge functions in the same way as metal alloy and porcelain bridges. Attached on either side of an existing gap to two healthy teeth, these bridges fill in the missing natural teeth. Essentially, they “bridge” the gap.

The process of getting a dental bridge is similar regardless of the bridge material you use. Your dentist will complete a thorough dental examination. The teeth that the bridge will be attached to are prepared. If the attachment will be in the form of two crowns, a portion of enamel is removed to improve the strength of the crown’s attachment.

Your dentist will then take impressions of your teeth to make the permanent bridge, and a temporary bridge will be fitted and placed until the permanent bridge is ready.

The function of each type of bridge and process of fitting is where the similarity ends.

What are the benefits of zirconium bridges?

Zirconia bridges are made of zirconium oxide, a strong type of ceramic that is compatible with the body. This compatibility minimizes any potential reactions that patients might have.

Some people experience a reaction to metal bridges; for a zirconia bridge, this is not an issue.

Aside from compatibility issues, a major concern about dental bridges is the increased potential for chipping, cracking, and staining than natural teeth. The material of zirconia bridges resists staining and cracking because of the quality of its surface. While not exactly smooth, this surface is able to repel accelerated or unnatural staining that can occur in other types of dental bridges.

For a dental bridge, two of the major concerns are bridge strength and appearance. A recent two-year evaluation of strength, appearance, and overall periodontal health when using zirconia bridges found that 100% of the bridges received an “A” grade for all categories. These results were confirmed two years later in a literature review of zirconia bridge studies by the National Institutes of Health.

Even if zirconia bridges were initially developed to find a material that more people could tolerate, their strength, durability, and natural appearance make them a good choice of dental bridge for many other reasons.

How long does a zirconia bridge last?

Typical dental bridges can last for anywhere from five to twenty years. The average bridge lasts for about a decade.

Zirconia bridges are not your typical dental bridge. With proper care and regular dental visits, these types of bridges can literally last a lifetime with very little evidence of wear and tear.

What’s the difference between a zirconia vs. porcelain bridge?

The major differences between zirconia vs. porcelain bridges concern strength, risk of complications, cost, and appearance.

Porcelain bridges used to be the gold standard of dental bridges, and with good reason. Porcelain is a natural-looking material that is simultaneously strong and fragile, offering a natural look that is as thin as regular enamel but tougher than the enamel of our natural teeth. For years, this material was used when strength and cosmetic considerations were paramount.

Zirconia is a material that far surpasses porcelain in many ways.

Zirconia is a neutral material that doesn’t cause allergic reactions in patients, which translates into fewer complications during use. In addition, zirconia is up to five times stronger than porcelain. Where porcelain may chip and crack (i.e., in the case of people who grind their teeth), zirconia offers a strong, stable biting and chewing surface that is durable for all areas of the mou