Ceramic materials have been used in dentistry for well over 200 years.  According to the Canadian Dental Association, they are the most biocompatible of dental restorative materials, because they are chemically very stable. This is illustrated by the fact that the oldest known artifacts associated with human habitation are ceramic materials such as pottery fragments, which have not degraded over very long periods of time.

All ceramic (aka porcelain) crowns are a natural looking option for restoring teeth that have been seriously compromised and cannot be restored with simple resin fillings.  Just as their name implies, all-ceramic dental crowns are restorations whose full thickness is made entirely of a ceramic substance, such as porcelain, a translucent material which is attractive to look at and blends in well with the rest of your teeth.

Glass ceramics essentially are metallic oxides that have been converted into glass/ceramics.  They are categorized according to their major crystalline structure and/or application.  Lithium disilicate is among the best known and most widely used types of glass ceramics, and is composed of quartz, lithium dioxide, phosphor oxide, alumina, potassium oxide, and trace elements.  It is prepared in powder form.  When combined and melted under high heat and liquid the glass flow process produces minimal pores or other internal defects.  This yields a highly thermal shock resistant glass ceramic, that has had superior results during strength testing, compared to other ceramic compositions.  Not only is lithium disilicate strong, but it is very versatile and lifelike.

There are several types of metal-free all-porcelain/ ceramic crowns:

  • Feldspathic porcelain – Traditional type, most often used, considered the most beautiful.  A conventional powder-slurry ceramic, entire thickness is 100% ceramic and best natural color of all the crowns.
  • Empress crown – Imitates natural teeth’s translucency, a leucite-based material that scatters light naturally and has a lifelike appearance.  By firing glass ceramic over a crystalline core which is compressed under pressure, it has increased resistance without using a metal base
  • Procera crown – Has milled ceramic inside and traditional porcelain on outside. A newer type of crown, created by the dentist during surgery, used because of its extraordinary strength.
  • Lava crown – Has a translucent zirconia core and with a layer of feldspathic porcelain baked onto the outside of it.
  • Zirconia crown – Looks natural.  It is made of Zirconia dioxide, a hard metal similar to steel, converted to an advanced type of dental ceramic, i.e. a polycrystalline ceramic core (the same material that forms the basic structure of fake diamonds).
  • Emax crowns – A proprietary form of ceramic crowns, made of monolithic lithium disilicate ceramic, which have been praised for strength, durability, and natural appearance.

A newer option, Crystal Ultra, may be a contender.  Used by a few dental clinics in Costa Rica, Crystal Ultra is an FDA approved hybrid nano-ceramic that bends and flexes in the mouth to offer patients high levels of comfort.  Proponents of Crystal Ultra report that the material flexes as the patient chews, absorbing shock like natural teeth.

Nanoceramics were discovered in the early 1980s.  The particles are so small that it has basically no flaws, while materials with larger particles have flaws that render them brittle.  Then in 2014 researchers announced a lasering process involving polymers and ceramic particles to form a nanotruss, and it came on the market in 2015.

Similar to zirconia, Crystal Ultra is recognized as a tough esthetic ceramic material that is ideally suited for dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures and other cosmetic dentistry uses.  Dental technology is constantly changing and improving, offering patients better quality care and better solutions every year.  So while Crystal Ultra is only used in some clinics in Costa Rica, it has not gained popularity as fast as expected due to a higher price tag, and even though it is an excellent material, being a relatively new material it has an unproven track record.

If you are interested in ceramic crowns, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.