Don’t hurt your practice: avoid substandard zirconia

The mark of a successful dental practice is the delivery of high quality services for the well-being and satisfaction of patients. Even the best practice needs a professional and reliable dental laboratory for effective outcomes; since the success of a dental restoration depends upon the properties of the material selected amongst other factors. Originally developed as a high strength substitute to metal and PFM (porcelain fused to metal) crowns in posterior restorations, zirconia has come a long way since its initial introduction. Today’s zirconia combines strength, longevity and esthetics seamlessly. Clinicians are increasingly choosing zirconia crowns, gradually making it the most popular dental crown material. Unfortunately this increased demand has led to availability of substandard Chinese zirconia at prices that are too good to be true. This inferior quality material has various problems that get eventually passed on to your patient as a failed restoration.

Hence as a dental practitioner you should give serious thought to the quality of zirconia used in your crowns. You do not want unhappy patients due to substandard zirconia crowns. Read on to find out more about the quality of zirconia available in the market so that you can be careful and make smart choices. 

Properties of Zirconia that make it the material of choice

The strength of zirconia has always been its indisputable advantage; with the ability to withstand very high masticatory forces and an ideal choice for bruxers. Years of research have tremendously improved its translucency and light penetration, making it aesthetically appealing so that it can be used in the anterior region as well. Being metal free and biocompatible make it even more attractive.

Thus zirconia is the material of choice as it offers the clinician a perfect combination of outstanding strength, durability and excellent aesthetics. 

Substandard zirconia can hurt your practice

For your crown to work the way it should the chemistry of the zirconia blank (disc) needs to be exact and in compliance with the necessary standard. Not all zirconia blanks available in the market are the same.The quality of the blanks depends on the purity, chemical composition, grain size and distribution as well as the addition of other oxides for stability. Numerous procedures go into the creation of zirconia blanks i.e.pressing, pre-sintering etc. Sadly some manufacturers from China do not maintain the high standards of these processes; producing blanks which are substandard. Such blanks have low compressive strength, are soft and easier to mill unlike high standard discs which are rigid. This low grade Chinese zirconia comes at very low prices and is purchased by some dental laboratories to be able to provide you with cheap crowns which obviously end up having suboptimal properties with respect to quality, aesthetics and durability. The substandard Chinese zirconia discs will not guarantee the strength and durability of a standard zirconia crown. There is bound to be presence of porosity in the final framework, which would weaken the material and could lead to premature breakage. Thus the inferior quality of the Chinese material undermines the indestructible nature of zirconia. Besides, the substandard material also lacks shade consistency and accuracy leading to shade change and poor aesthetics in the crown. 

Your patients will be disappointed as they won’t get what you promised and you will spend a lot of time and energy doing remakes.  

What can you do to avoid poor quality zirconia crowns?

Always work with dental labs that procure zirconia blanks from trustworthy manufacturers to assure your patients’ satisfaction and safety. Labs that are committed to providing high quality service purchase zirconia from verified and reputable manufacturers in the US and Europe. They do not use substandard Chinese zirconia, although much cheaper. The American and European manufacturers follow strict protocol to ensure quality control; which translates to you being able to provide your patients with appropriate and genuine warranties and the best zirconia crowns. 

To ensure that you are not getting substandard zirconia crowns, make sure to always ask your dental lab for the brand and country of origin of zirconia and eliminate the possibility of getting inferior quality Chinese zirconia. 

You get what you pay for!

Yes, the high quality zirconia crowns will be a little more expensive than those made from the inferior material; but they are absolutely worth the investment. After all you want the crowns that you are delivering to be inside your patient’s mouth for years to come. Don’t make clinical decisions based on price alone. If you are getting zirconia crowns way below their true value, there is a strong possibility that they are made from substandard low-cost zirconia from China. Don’t be surprised if they don’t live up to your expectations.Cheap options lead to poor quality treatments, which mean more money, time and discomfort in the long run. Talk to your lab about the source of your zirconia. Stay away from substandard Chinese zirconia and get peace of mind!