The price between regular dental crowns and zirconium crowns seems way too much to be justifiable. But there is a very real aesthetic difference between the two, and thus the prices are a bit easier to understand. Zirconium is a rare mineral that is burnt in a kiln to make zirconium oxide, the basis for zirconium dental crowns. This material has all of the properties of real teeth, but with the all of the durability and strength of porcelain crowns. It plays with the light in the way that tooth enamel does, making dental crowns made of zirconium indistinguishable from real teeth.
What’s in a crown
The outer structure of all dental crowns is usually tooth coloured porcelain that has been made the exact shade of your teeth. The difference lies in the internal structure. Crowns are made like this: first, the dental technician makes an inner structure, a base that then has porcelain plates attached to it, which are then burnt in a kiln for days, and the final result is a hidden inner structure with a strong, tooth coloured outer layer. Usually, the inner structure is made out of metal which is fine, but when a strong light shines on the dental crown, the inner structure becomes revealed as a set of dark, shadowy lines against the crown, which looks unpleasant. Zirconium dental crowns have inner structures made of zirconium, and the outer structure made of the same tooth coloured porcelain as usual. The inner structure will not be visible as it is semi-translucent, and will look like real teeth in any circumstances.
Dentists will recommend getting the teeth in the smile zone to be made of zirconium. Your smile zone is the first 6 teeth, on both arches, as these are the ones that are visible when you smile. The back teeth will never have strong lights shined on them, and will never be fully visible, and thus regular dental crowns are perfectly good at replacing them. This means that not all teeth should be replaced with this rare and expensive mineral, only the ones that are visible when you talk or smile.