When a tooth is damaged or decayed enough to require a crown, you have many different options of crown material. Traditionally, crowns have been made out of a mix of metal and ceramic. These days, zirconia crowns are rising in popularity for their durability and natural-looking appearance.

What are zirconia crowns?

Your dentist can use zirconia dental crowns to replace a single natural tooth. People need dental crowns for a variety of reasons.

  • Tooth decay: When tooth decay progresses to the point where there is very little tooth material left, a zirconia crown can help preserve the tooth’s roots.
  • Broken or chipped teeth: Zirconia crowns can be used when a tooth is broken, cracked, or otherwise damaged.
  • Aesthetic considerations: Dental crowns help when a tooth is healthy but not as attractive as a patient would like. Discoloration or variations in size can all be corrected with a dental crown.

Zirconia crowns are just one of several materials patients can choose from. Other types of crowns are:

  • Porcelain
  • Ceramic
  • Metal
  • A combination

What should I expect during a zirconia crown procedure?

Receiving a zirconia dental crown takes two visits.

On the first visit, your dentist examines your tooth to make sure it can support a crown. They will then prepare the tooth by filing down the tooth material to make a healthy base for the crown.

Once the base is prepared, your dentist takes an impression of the area to create a temporary crown while the permanent zirconia crown is being made. When the zirconia crown is ready, your dentist removes the temporary crown and permanently affixes the zirconia dental crown with dental cement.

Checking for fit, color match, and shape is the last step. Zirconia dental crowns can be shaped to more closely match natural teeth. Your dentist will make sure that the bite is correct and shape the crown accordingly.

It may take a few days to get used to your new zirconia crown, especially if you had a gap in your smile for a long period of time. In general, most patients report no problems adapting after the first few days, but if you experience discomfort, give your dentist a call to check it out.

What is a zirconium crown made of?

Zirconia crowns are made of zirconium oxide. This is a strong material that is compatible with the body. For some patients who cannot tolerate metal, this material is the best option.

Zirconia dental crowns can be either solid or layered.

Solid zirconia crowns (also called monolithic zirconia) are best used on molars. The appearance is more opaque, but the strength of solid zirconia dental crowns is good for hard chewing surfaces. Patients who grind their teeth are also good candidates for this type of zirconia crown.

Layered zirconia crowns are the most natural-looking option. These are easy to match to adjacent teeth and still offer superior strength and durability. Layered zirconia dental crowns need more clearance when they are applied and are generally used for teeth in the front of the mouth.

How long do zirconia crowns last?

With proper care and regular check-ups, zirconia crowns can last a lifetime.

On average, patients expect to get between ten and 20 years of wear out of their zirconia dental crowns, but some report upwards of 30 years of wear.

What are zirconia crowns pros and cons?

When it comes to zirconia crowns pros and cons, they’re best examined by looking at other dental crown materials in comparison.

Zirconia crown vs. porcelain

Zirconia crowns are made of a biocompatible material that virtually eliminates the possibility of an adverse reaction. For some people, the metal lining of a porcelain crown means that the crown can cause irritation and other complications.

The metal lining of a porcelain crown may also peek above the crown right at the gumline. Although it does not matter so much in terms of molars, this dark metal line is not the best look for front teeth. Zirconia crowns are appropriate aesthetically for both front and back teeth.

Some might argue in favor of strong all-metal crowns, but again, this is not necessarily appropriate for front teeth. Most patients will prefer dental crowns that blend seamlessly with their natural teeth, and zirconia dental crowns are the best choice in that regard.