Root canals and fillings might be a patient’s worst nightmare, but for dentists, these are sort of like a dream. These are common procedures to help correct a cavity that dental professionals are happy to help you with. But with so many types of crowns out there, how do you know which might be the best one?
Crowns can be made of metal, porcelain, and loads of different materials in between. A common crown material is known as zirconia, and this might be a great solution for the next time you need a dental crown.
Here’s everything you need to know about a zirconia crown, including its benefits:
A crown is sort of like a cap placed over the top of your tooth. These are cemented in place over your tooth to restore their shape, size, structure, and natural appearance.
You might need to get a dental crown for several reasons, including:
Crowns can be made of all sorts of different materials, but a zirconia crown is a newer addition to the world of restorative dentistry. Made of zirconium dioxide, this material is stranger than most other porcelain and some metal alloys that are usually used to make dental crowns.
Because of that, crowns made of this material get fewer sharp edges due to normal wear and tear over time. These tend to cause a tad less stress and damage to natural teeth over time compared to other crowns made of different materials.
There’s a big reason why so many dentists are recommending zirconia crowns as an alternative to most other types of crowns on the market. Why?
There are some serious benefits to be found with this dental restoration technique:
One of the main reasons to choose a zirconia crown over other options is because it provides more strength than one of the most popular alternatives: porcelain. In fact, it has about five times the strength of a porcelain crown.
You don’t need to worry about getting replacements nearly as often. Their remarkable strength makes them a top choice for molars.
Although they’re made of metal, they give you the strength of metal crowns in every way, shape, and form, but they don’t look as out of place as metal crowns.
Metal crowns might be able to give you the best durability standards as far as crowns go, but they usually look out of place as they’re usually made with a silver or gold composite.
Zirconium oxide is naturally white, so when it’s placed over your tooth, it looks exactly the same (if not a little bit better). Other types of dental crowns, like silver or gold crowns, might not fit an individual's desired aesthetic.
Zirconimonion has a notable translucency. The material on the enamel on the outer part of your teeth is also slightly see-through; this means that this material is an excellent match for your teeth.
While porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM) give you the natural color of a tooth with the durability of a metal crown, they usually leave a small gray line over the line over time. Since zirconia crowns are made of the same durable material throughout, you don’t see this same byproduct.
Most other types of crowns can cause erosion over time, which makes the enamel on the opposing teeth wear away. This can make them more sensitive to hot and cold substances, and they can also lead to decay and damage to teeth over time. Zirconia is made of a softer material than most, so you don’t get this same side effect.
The material used to make a zirconia crown is even more resistant to stains than your natural teeth. So if you drink coffee or eat dark foods, you probably won’t get as noticeably yellow or brown in your teeth compared to the real thing.
With that said, certain foods can still stain zirconia crowns over time, so enjoy those foods in moderation.
Sometimes, people might not be able to get metal crowns because the body rejects them due to a metal allergy. This limits your options. Even though zirconia crowns are made of metal, they are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction because the body treats them as biocompatible.
The drawbacks of this crown are quite minimal, and the benefits mostly outweigh the disadvantages. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind.
For one, zirconia crowns are so solid and sturdy that they might be difficult to use when creating a dental bridge, which usually requires a bit more elasticity between certain teeth.
Additionally, there has been some concern about how it might affect surrounding teeth in terms of abrasiveness. Though, it was found that porcelain crowns are even more likely to cause enamel erosion.
The major drawback of zirconia crowns is the associated cost. These crowns tend to be very pricey because the materials used are rare, and they are typically more expensive than metal, porcelain, and ceramic materials. The geographic location you’re getting your crown can drive that price higher.
Zirconia crowns can be pricey, and since they are considered cosmetic dental treatments, many insurance companies will not cover them. Most dental insurance companies will only cover the cost of metal or porcelain crowns that are deemed necessary for the prevention or restoration of your teeth.
Even then, when nearly ⅓ of the United States population is without dental insurance, it makes it hard for anyone to be able to get coverage for zirconia crowns. That leaves you needing to pay out of pocket, which can run you upwards of $2,500 on average per tooth.
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Zirconia crowns are placed like any other type of crown, even though they are metal-free. If you’re about to get one, here is what you can expect.
On the first visit, you’ll get X-rays and undergo a routine examination to check the status of your teeth. You may also need to get a root canal treatment ahead of time if there’s any risk of infection or visible tooth decay.
During this visit, the tooth that is receiving the crown will be filed down on the tops and sides to make room for the crown itself. Since zirconia crowns are thinner, not as much of the natural tooth needs to be removed compared to porcelain to porcelain fused to metal. If too much of a tooth is missing, fillings can be used to “build up” your teeth. This way, there’s enough room for the crown to be placed.
Once the tooth is shaped, putty is used to make an impression of the tooth receiving the crown. This is then sent off to a dental lab that makes a crown to fit perfectly into your teeth upon your next visit.
Your dentist won’t leave your tooth vulnerable until then. At the end of your first visit, you’ll get a temporary crown to cover and protect your tooth while the permanent crown is made.
Once the permanent crown is ready to go, you’ll return to the dentist to have the temporary one removed, and the permanent one cemented onto the tooth. The fit and color of the permanent crown are checked beforehand. If need be, you may be given a local anesthetic to numb the area before it is planted.
Some dentist’s offices might be able to administer same-day dental crowns if they have the necessary materials. The process of making the crown is a bit different in this circumstance. With same-day crowns, a digital wand takes a 3D scan of your mouth rather than your doctor relying on a physical impression.
Then, the digital design is sent to another office where an in-office machine, sort of like a 3D printer, carves the shape of a crown that can be cemented onto your tooth. This is called computer-aided design/ computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/ CAM). The whole process takes less than 15 minutes.
At the moment, this can only be done with ceramic crowns. However, as zirconia becomes more widely used in the dental world, this might soon become an option.
Zirconia crowns are made of zirconium dioxide, and they are used to cover tooth surfaces that have been damaged due to decay, trauma, or anything in between. They are durable, resemble the color of real teeth, are less abrasive, and are more biocompatible compared to metal crowns.
The only real downfall with zirconia crowns is that they are expensive compared to most other types of crowns, and many dental insurance companies will not cover the cost of them. For that reason, you might be stuck paying out of pocket.
Since Flossy can save you up to 50% on the out-of-pocket costs associated with dental care, this might not even be much of a problem. Download the Flossy app and get started on a healthier, happier smile at half the price.