In the past, patients looking for natural-looking crowns used to be limited to porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFMs), where ceramic materials were overlaid on a metal framework. While PFMs are still a great crown option, they do have some limitations. For instance, the underlying metal tends to show through the porcelain near the neck of the tooth.
Thankfully, advances in dental technology have made it possible for patients to now get crowns without this framework which are made of ceramic materials, such as zirconia. If you need to get a crown for one of your teeth, take a look at the different ceramic materials to see which is right for your needs.
Leucite crowns are known for their great aesthetics since they have a high translucency and can be matched to adjacent teeth. While they can work for both anterior and posterior teeth, they tend to work better for anterior teeth since they aren't as durable as other options and can fracture. These crowns typically aren't recommended for people with bruxism, as the most frequent technical complications are related to occlusal wear.
Lithium Disilicate Crowns
These glass-ceramic crowns are composed of lithium—a soft-silvery white meta—and silicon, a brittle crystalline solid. Like leucite crowns, lithium disilicate crowns are aesthetically pleasing and have good translucency. These crowns also work well with CAD/CAM machines, which means that you could get a same-day crown at your dentist's office instead of having to wait for an outside laboratory to manufacture it. Lithium disilicate has a good survival rate (94.8% after eight years) and it has a low rate of mechanical failures, like de-bonding or chipping. The main downside is that lithium disilicate isn't as durable as other materials, like zirconia, so it's mainly used for anterior teeth.
The main benefits of zirconia are its durability and relatively low cost. It's stronger than other ceramics and even some metals; it also doesn't develop sharp edges from normal occlusal wear and tear. There are a wide variety of zirconia crowns depending on your needs. There is monolithic zirconia, which may lack translucency, but it's arguably the most durable crown and works well with posterior teeth and if you need crowns on opposing teeth. These crowns work well for people who are prone to grinding their teeth. If you want both durability and aesthetics for anterior teeth, then you could opt for translucent or layered zirconia. So, what are the main downsides? It can be harder to match and maintain the color of zirconia, so these crowns may not work well for people who like staining drinks, such as coffee. Also, if your natural enamel is also already thin, then zirconia crowns may not be a good fit since they can wear away interproximal enamel.
These are just a few different pros and cons for different types of ceramic crowns. Reach out to your dentist today for more help to find the best restoration for your needs.
Talk to a dentist for more information about ceramic crowns.