Dental Materials: Zirconia

Dental materials are getting better all the time. They are more esthetic, easier for the dentist or laboratory technician to sculpt and mold, have more disadvantages once they are placed, and last longer than earlier favorites. Porcelain is the most commonly used dental material today, but zirconia is fast becoming one of the favored dental materials.


Zirconia crowns are milled from a block of zirconia in a soft pre-sintered state. After milling it is sintered (compacted via heat and pressure) in a furnace where it shrinks by about 20 percent and reaches its full strength.  Zirconia is the hardest known ceramic in the industry and the strongest material used in dentistry at present. When baked at ultra high temperatures zirconia crowns are nearly indestructible.



  • Is strong, tough, durable, and long-lasting
  • Withstands wear and tear and bite forces
  • Is somewhat translucent
  • Mimics natural tooth color
  • Requires minimal removal of tooth structure
  • Does not need to be fused to metal for strength
  • Can be easily modified to the proper shape, size, and color
  • Is biocompatible

Zirconia vs Porcelain

While the advantages of porcelain include its translucency and esthetics (it looks just like a natural tooth) it lacks strength and longevity. Porcelain is known to chip, crack, and break.

Zirconia is nearly indestructible, but monolithic (complete) zirconia crowns tend to lack translucency, fluorescence, and be dense in appearance. However, when layered with feldspathic porcelain they are both strong and esthetic.

 About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

Aside from providing dependable family, general, and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.

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