When you get dental crowns for damaged teeth, you typically have a choice of materials you can have the false teeth made from, such as metal or resin. Although porcelain is fairly popular because it closely matches the color and look of real teeth, you may want to consider getting your crown made with zirconia instead. Here is more information about this material to help you decide if it is a good option for you.
All About Zirconia
Zirconia is a type of hard ceramic that is sometimes mixed with other materials to make composite crowns. For instance, porcelain fused zirconia crowns are made by wrapping porcelain around a zirconia center. In this pairing, zirconia adds strength while porcelain gives the false tooth a more natural look.
This material has been studied and used for many years, but it has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity as a viable material for crowns. One reason is because zirconia is much stronger than porcelain and resistant to deterioration. In fact, it is as strong and durable as gold and can last a lifetime when properly maintained. Its strength makes it ideal for rear teeth that are subjected to the force of chewing food.
Another benefit of zirconia is it's the most biocompatible of all the materials, which is why it's often used for implants like hip replacements and even dental implants. This biocompatibility virtually eliminates the risk you'll have an allergic reaction to the material, making it a good option for people with metal allergies and/or for whom porcelain is counter-indicated.
Lastly, zirconia generally does a better job of preserving your natural tooth in a couple of ways. First, as noted previously, zirconia is very strong, so technicians can use less material when shaping crowns. This means less of your natural tooth has to be shaved off to accommodate the false tooth. Second, the material's strength also provides greater support to your natural tooth and better protects it from impacts.
Like all the other materials, zirconia has its drawbacks, one of which is the color. Although the color is similar to that of porcelain, it's not as translucent. When sitting next to other natural teeth, zirconia looks slightly out of place. However, most people wouldn't notice unless your natural teeth were highly stained or individuals were looking very closely at your teeth.
Another issue is zirconia can be abrasive to other teeth in your mouth. While it will protect the tooth it's covering, it may rub surrounding or opposing teeth the wrong way, resulting in friction damage. If the tooth becomes loose (which can happen if decay develops under the crown), this can also cause friction damage to the root of the tooth it's covering. To prevent this, it's important to have your teeth checked on a regular basis and discuss treatment options at the first sign of trouble.
Though zirconia crowns are becoming more common, you still may have trouble finding a dentist who can do them for you. However, this will depend on where you live. A person who lives in a rural area may have more trouble than someone who lives in a big city such as New York.
Zirconia crowns cost an average of $800 to $1,200 per tooth, which is similar to porcelain crowns in price. Dental insurance typically pays for at least part of the cost of getting a crown, so it may be cheaper if you have a dental policy.
To learn more about zirconia crowns or to determine if you need a crown of any type, contact your dentist for a consultation.