A zirconia crown is a popular type of all-ceramic crown which is worn to improve the appearance of a tooth which has become stained or disfigured over the years. They are durable, easy to wear and long lasting.
Plus zirconia crowns have a translucent appearance which means that they are indistinguishable from your own teeth. It is hard to spot a zirconia crown amongst natural teeth.
What is a zirconia crown?
This type of crown is made from zirconia, a very strong material which is compatible with the human body. Zirconia is used in many other medical applications such as artificial joints and is known for its strength and durability.
Zirconia is a type of crystal which is long lasting and indestructible.
Plus there is no fear about the body rejecting zirconia or displaying an allergic reaction to it. It is safe to use and preferred by many people to porcelain fused to metal crowns.
Advantages of a zirconia crown
There are three advantages which are:
Strength: zirconia crowns last longer than other types of crowns.
Aesthetics: these crowns have an attractive translucent colour which blends in well with the other teeth.
Retain more of the existing tooth: minimal preparation is required which means more of the original tooth is preserved. This is useful if the crown needs to be removed.
So, a good choice if you are looking for a strong, long lasting and visually appealing crown. They are ideal at covering signs of damage or staining as well as helping to maintain the function of the tooth.
Disadvantages of a zirconia crown
The tough, durable nature of a zirconia crown can work against it as well as in its favour. This material has an abrasive quality which can cause friction against the root of the tooth as well as other teeth.
How is a zirconia crown fitted?
The process is similar to that for other crowns. It involves two stages: preparation (first stage) and the fitting of the crown (second stage).
The first stage is where your teeth are assessed and measured for a crown. The dentist will discuss the procedure with you before preparing your affected tooth. This preparation involves the cleaning of the tooth before reshaping (which reduces its size) with a small drill.
A small sliver of tooth is removed under a local anaesthetic which ensures that the tooth is the correct shape for the crown.
A mould is made with dental putty which you will be asked to bite into. This is used as a guide for the production of your new crown at a dental laboratory.
The second stage is where you will be fitted with your new crown. The tooth which will receive this crown is roughened with a special dental acid which scratches the surface and increases the bond between crown and tooth.
The crown is then fitted onto your tooth. The dentist will check its appearance and fit before cementing it into position. It is then given a final polish.
A zirconia crown must be cared for in the same way as your natural teeth.
A zirconia bridge is considered a top quality type of bridge which is stronger, durable and visually appealing as compared to other types of bridges.
It is often preferred to metal ceramic bridges in that it causes less tooth sensitivity and with no sign of the dreaded grey line around the edge of the gums. For many people this is a downside of wearing a bridge.
But one way of avoiding that is to choose an all ceramic bridge or the highly rated zirconia bridge instead.
What is a zirconia bridge?
A dental bridge is a structure in which a false tooth and two crowns are attached to a metal base which acts as a replacement for missing teeth.
The false tooth sits in the gap and is flanked by the two crowns which fit over the natural teeth on each side of the gap. In other words, it ‘bridges’ the gap in your teeth.
A zirconia bridge is different in that it is produced from Zirconium oxide – a tough form of dental ceramic which is also compatible with the body. This means that the body will not reject or react in a negative way to the bridge.
This is a problem with metal based bridges as there are people who have an allergy to the metals used in the bridge.
A zirconia bridge has a translucent appearance and is an ideal match with the rest of your teeth.
Advantages of a zirconia bridge
The main advantages are a strong, stable and great looking bridge which blends in well with the rest of your teeth. Plus the material used to fabricate this bridge is ‘biocompatible’ which means that is kind to living tissue within your body and will not cause any ill effects, e.g. an allergic reaction.
Less preparation is needed which refers to the process you undergo before the crown is fitted. Your dentist reshapes the tooth, removing a tiny sliver which enables a better fit between crown and tooth. But minimal tooth reduction is required for a zirconia crown.
Plus there is no metal base within this bridge which means no ugly looking black line at the edge of the gums which is a common feature of metal ceramic bridges. This is good news from an aesthetic point of view as many people prefer to wear a bridge whose crowns closely match the colour of their natural teeth.
Disadvantages of a zirconia bridge
The advantages of a zirconia bridge have been discussed; but are there any disadvantages of this type of bridge?
Cost is one issue as this type of bridge may be more expensive than the standard metal ceramic bridge. This means shopping around to find the most suitable (and affordable) bridge for you. But do not be guided by price alone as it is important that you choose a bridge which is best suited to your teeth.
Ceramic is a tough, long lasting material but what can happen is that the surface of the crowns becomes rough which then rubs against natural teeth. This causes them to become worn down and less effective than before.
One problem with all ceramic bridges is that they can be less resistant to stress or extra forces, e.g. biting compared to metal ceramic bridges. There is an increased risk of chipping or a fracture as a result of this although the newer varieties have a stronger inner structure.
How is a zirconia bridge fitted?
The process for this is the same as for any other type of bridge. Your dentist will assess the current state of your teeth before discussing the pros and cons of the treatment with you.
If you are considered a good candidate for a zirconia bridge then he/she will prepare your teeth for this bridge. The preparation stage is part of a two stage procedure which includes taking an impression of the affected teeth along with supporting x-rays.
It also includes what is known as ‘tooth reduction’ in which the dentist trims the affected teeth with a small drill so that it will enable the crowns to fit over the top.
These are all used in the fabrication of your zirconia bridge. They are sent to a dental laboratory that produces your bridge over a period of two to three weeks.
During this time you will be given a temporary bridge to wear. Once your new bridge has been made you will return for the fitting. Your dentist will fit the new bridge and check that it is a correct fit before cementing it in place.