Tech Talk With Dr. Cranska


In upcoming months, I will answer questions on high-technology dentistry. Please direct inquiries to my website at or email me at

The Biggest Change in Modern Dental Technology is Zirconia

Technology has given dentists a durable tooth-colored ceramic that is strong, wear resistant, and tolerated by gums. That material is called zirconia. Original BruxZir zirconia crowns have been on the market for 10 years. In last five years, zirconia has become the No. 1 material used to make dental crowns and bridges. Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer–aided manufacturing (CAM) have sparked non-metal crown growth from under 10% usage to more than 90% during this time.

Q: What is a crown?

A: A dental crown is a restoration that completely caps and covers a tooth. Crowns are used to improve the form, function, strength and appearance of a damaged tooth or to cover a dental implant. Crowns originally were made of all gold. Technology in the 1960s and 1970s gave us porcelain-covered gold crowns and all porcelain crowns. These crowns improved cosmetics, but porcelain is not as durable as a natural tooth or solid metal.

Twenty-first century CAD/CAM (3D printer) technology has developed a chip-proof, solid, all-ceramic crown. Computers are utilized to design and mill these restorations from a solid block of ceramic. These meet the dentist’s requirements for fit and high-strength, and your desire of being tooth colored. There is no metal sensitivity or allergies with these ceramics.

Q: How can I have a broken tooth repaired to look like my original tooth?

A: A dentist will examine the tooth to determine the best treatment for the patient, evaluate the benefits versus the risk, and determine what treatments are necessary. Fillings are designed to go inside a tooth. Worn, broken and cracked teeth — and weakened teeth with large restorations with excessive decay — may not leave enough healthy tooth structure to support a replacement filling. Root-canaled teeth need crown coverage to protect against tooth breakage. Ceramic crowns are used as needed to restore the tooth back to its original size and shape so it can work like the original tooth structure.

Q: How long will the tooth restored with a crown last?

A: With a miniscule fracture rate, zirconia crowns covering the tooth should last for several years. Proper maintenance is important to prevent decay around the crown. Like any tooth, the tissue around it can get gum disease.

Dental crowns are one of many choices in restoring your teeth back to proper function. The decision about how to restore teeth is determined between the patient and dentist.


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