ZIRCONIUM and … zirconium.
There is a lot of hype about zirconium being the best material for dental crowns and bridges. Strong and aesthetic, zirconium has become the preferred material for dental restoration over the last 25 years.
However, there is a catch – not all zirconium is made equal. In this post you can find out what we mean – there is ZIRCONIUM… and… zirconium!
Zirconium crowns are milled from special blocks called blanks. The zirconium blank shown above costs about 300 euro. It is made in Germany, it has all the relevant certificates and can be expected to meet 100% of the high quality requirements. This is the standard we maintain in Sofia Implant Centre.
And the ones shown below are just about 30 Euro, yes, 10 times cheaper! – most often made in Turkey or China. For a reference check again Alibaba.com (follow the link).
The risk of using poor quality zirconium is that you will likely end up having to replace your new crown or bridge. And believe it or not, quite often you will get exactly this if you cannot make the difference between the quality of zirconium.
So what’s the difference? The difference, as always, is in the details – generally speaking, cheap zirconium is brittle and unaesthetic. The quality one features multiple layers that give a natural gradient color of the tooth, depth and translucency, it also meets strict strength standards.
Not less important is how zirconium is processed – this requires expensive dental lab milling and sintering machines. For example, the below milling machine, which we currently use in Sofia Implant Centre, is made in Germany and costs about 70,000 euros (2022):
while the Chinese counterpart costs just about 10,000 Euro on Alibaba.com:
And yes, you may guess that there is a compromise with the quality of the result!
In addition to milling, zirconium is processed in several important steps – such as sintering, where the heating process must be very precise. There are also other processes which can be easily compromised by low quality equipment or negligence.
So do ask your clinic to verify the quality of their materials and equipment. Request a certificate of origin and quality for the zirconium blank. If they are reluctant to talk about this, then they are probably hiding something and you have every reason to stay away.
Just as there are differences in the quality of zirconium, there are differences in almost all dental lab processes. This brings up the next important question – why do we need a modern laboratory? Click here to read the post and to find out the answer.
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