February 02, 2021

FDLA Focus Magazine: The Story of Dental Zirconia

Paul Cascone, BE MetE, MS, SVP of R&D, The Argen Corporation

This is not a historical review of the substitution of zirconia in place of porcelain-fused-to-metal, but rather a description of what zirconia is, how it is made, the different types of dental zirconia and the properties of zirconia, both good and troublesome, that affect its use as a dental restorative material.


Zirconia is a crystalline ceramic made from the mineral zircon. Crystalline means that it is not a glass, like dental porcelain, but closer to metals with grains and grain boundaries. We will discuss the implications of this below. Ceramic means that the material is a combination of metal with, in this case, oxygen. When metals combine with elements like oxygen, the result is a new material having its own set of properties (chemical, physical, biological, etc.). Just as the metal aluminum combines with oxygen to form the ceramic zirconia. 

Zirconia is a crystalline showing grains and grain bound arise while the dental porcelain has no structure since it is a glass. The grains provide strength but also result in a fracture if abused. 

Read the full article from the Q1 issue of FDLA Focus Magazine.

Cover image courtesy of Jack Marrano, CDT of Absolute Dental Services.