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  • by: Bill Warner
  • 5 min read



Zirconia crowns have gained popularity over the past decade. Today’s patients are requesting zirconia crowns over metal-based crowns because zirconia restorations provide strength and lifelike esthetics. Additionally, zirconia is an extremely durable metal and can withstand forceful chewing and grinding over an extended period of time. If properly maintained, zirconia restorations can last a patient’s lifetime. Because of its newness, many dentists refrain from using zirconia crowns or learning how to properly implant them into their patient’s mouths. This lack of experience can sometimes lead to ill-fitting crowns. 

Dental crown issues are not something that you can ignore. Any problems with dental crowns must be addressed immediately for the safety of your patient. Because zirconia crowns are designed to help seal and protect your patient’s teeth from further damage, it is imperative that you know how to properly implant a crown and how to adjust the fit of the crown should complications arise. 


What Can Cause Ill-Fitting Zirconia Crowns?

  • Dental crown was rushed. When crowns are rushed, errors occur, such as incorrect margins. Crowns cemented with an open margin allows entry or seepage of saliva inside the crown, which causes decay in your patient’s gums.

  • Crown was not cemented properly. Clinicians must meticulously check the crown margins to avoid potential errors during cementation, such as a gap in the patient’s crown. This gap allows saliva and bacteria to enter the crown and can lead to tooth decay and infection. 

  • Impression was questionable. Air pockets, drag or pull marks, missing impression data, inaccurate marginal impressions and poor impression material will all affect the quality of the impression.

  • Preparation anomalies. 


How to Fix Debonding Complications 

If you find your zirconia crowns are debonding, try altering your cementation process. Most technicians will test out the fit of the zirconia crown in the patient’s mouth before cleaning the tooth with pumice. Next, decontaminate the intaglio of the zirconia restoration before you prepare it with a priming agent or adhesive if your zirconia crown does not have a built-in primer. Finally, cement the crown in place, tack the cure, and remove any excess cement.

Even though these are all standard procedures, clinicians sometimes fail to decontaminate the intaglio thoroughly, which causes the bonding process to fail. Because zirconium oxide bonds with phosphate groups, it’s critical to properly remove the phosphate groups so the oxide sites can bond successfully in your patient’s mouth. 


Three Ways to Remove Phosphate Groups

  • Sandblasting. Although sandblasting the internal surface with 50-micron diameter aluminum oxide is sometimes not recommended, most manufacturers do recommend sandblasting the internal surface very lightly at a low pressure. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations before attempting this method. 
  • Sodium hypochlorite. The intaglio of the crown is wiped with gauze soaked in a 5% concentration of sodium hypochlorite or full hydrogen peroxide, which is removed by rinsing with water and air-drying the restoration.
  • Ivoclean. Use a proprietary solution such as Ivoclean. Leave the solution on the crown for 20 seconds before rinsing. The crown is then air-dried and ready to bond.



Ensuring Restorations Don’t Rock Facial-Lingually

Do you find the margins of zirconia crowns fit perfectly, but that the crown rocks facial-lingually? This problem occurs more often than you’d think and takes longer for properly fitting zirconia crowns on patients. 

When the digital image of the patient’s tooth is constructed, any irregularities are removed as milled restorations have smooth surfaces internally and will not fit over irregularities or undercuts. Usually, a die-spacer is used on conventional models, which creates a space of approximately 50-100 microns. When fabricating zirconia restorations, have your clinician ensure that the computer program is set to create well-fitting margins, while specifying the size of the space between the fit surface and the prep site. This simple step replicates the function of a conventional die-spacer and will prevent zirconia crowns from rocking facial-lingually.


Ill-fitting crowns can lead to unhappy patients. If you ever experience fit issues with a zirconia crown, call our lab directly to discuss your specific case with our expert technical team. DDS Lab’s technical team is ready to help solve any issues regarding ill-fitting restorations and will work with your office to find the best solution. 


Click here to schedule a consultation with our technical team »  

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