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Zirconium, The New Leader in Dentistry


Over the last several years, dental researchers have been trying to develop an esthetic dental crown with all the great qualities of traditional gold crowns. They were looking to develop  white crowns with the same strength and predictability, same or improved fit, and same cleans ability and surface finish as gold crowns. What they developed was Zirconium Crowns, and today, dentists around the world now use zirconium crowns in their offices daily. 

Zirconium is a naturally forming element  found on the Periodic Table of Elements, with the symbol Zr.  When you look on this table, you'll find zirconium aligned with the metals. This is because it's characteristics mimic that of metal, however zirconium can be made white.  Traditionally patients  who grind their teeth, a condition known as bruxism, were offered gold crowns to restore molar teeth  because  routine porcelain crowns would fracture  under the forces of the bite. Today we can now offer the same patients a white crown alternative.

Recently this zirconia crown underwent a three-year clinical performance study by the CRA foundation.  What they concluded has become a  total game changer in dentistry. Compared to other white crowns available on the market today, the zirconia crowns were found to be three times stronger, higher flexural strength, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, allowed for minimal preparation of the tooth. Since it requires minimal preparation, one could assume patients will  experience  much less  post-op sensitivity, less need for root canal therapy, and less fractured teeth. The foundation also concluded  that  these new crowns  are kind to the opposing dentition,  and because they are  created  using lasers and CAD/CAM technology, their fit is second to none.
Zirconium crowns are fabricated by using a laser to scan  the stone model  the dentist sends to the dental lab. Once the dimensions are scanned and saved, the dental technician then creates the new crown on the computer using CAD/CAM software. This eliminates much of distortions of previous  dental crowns. Once it's designed on the computer, it sent to a 3-D milling machine where the crown is fabricated out of a solid block of zirconia .  Technicians can  match  the zirconium  block  to the color prescribed  by the dentist. Once milled,  zirconium can be polished  to a glassy shine  resembling  natural enamel.  Because of their strength and aesthetics,  they can be routinely used on natural teeth  as well as on dental implants.

As a practicing dentist in Naples Florida,  many of my patients  request  tooth colored fillings and crowns .  For my patients with a history of bruxism,  I routinely use zirconium  as the restorative material because of the strength and predictability.  It is my opinion, that it won't be too long before  metal  is completely  replaced  in dentistry  by more aesthetics  alternatives such as zirconium.

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