How Long Do Zirconia Crowns Last?

Dental crowns serve as a cover or cap for a tooth which is damaged. They aid in restoring the shape, function, size, and appearance of the natural tooth. While crowns will not last forever, the lifespan can be extended by practicing good oral hygiene, taking good care of the restoration, and following the necessary precautions. This article will review zirconia crowns, their expected longevity, and common signs of a damaged crown.

The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that if patients have a large filling without the necessary amount of tooth to hold it, a crown can be used to aid in strengthening the tooth. Crowns are commonly used in the following scenarios:

  • Restore cracked or broken teeth
  • Protect weak teeth from additional damage
  • Support and attach dental bridges
  • Protect fragile teeth after a root canal

A variety of materials can be used to create a dental crown. Some materials are more durable and last longer than others. On average, the expected lifespan of a crown is approximately 10 years. When a crown is properly fabricated and cared for, a crown can actually last for decades. Some of the factors the dentist will consider when determining the best type of material to use for a crown include the location of the tooth, the amount of remaining natural tooth, and the visibility of the crown.

One type of material which is commonly used for crowns is zirconia. Zirconia is classified as a type of ceramic and zirconia crowns are created from zirconium dioxide. This incredibly durable material is similar in strength to titanium. Because these types of crowns are so durable, they are highly resistant to fractures. Zirconia is actually the strongest non-metal material which can be used to create a crown. When good oral hygiene is practiced along with regular visits to the dentist, zirconia crowns often last for 15 years or more.

In evaluating if a crown requires replacement, a dental X-ray and clinical examination are typically required.  The crown needs to be replaced if there are any open margins which prevent the crown from properly sitting on the tooth. A replacement is also required if there is a gap between the tooth and the crown. In cases where the crown is broken or a gap between the crown and the adjacent teeth, the crown should also be replaced as it can lead to the accumulation of food and bacteria.

The following are signs that a crown may to be replaced in the near future:

  • Pain is present at the site of the crown or in the general area. Pain around a crown is often a result of decay and requires the crown to be replaced.
  • Crowns which are unstable or move also indicate replacement is necessary. In some cases, this can occur when patients chew on a sticky substance, such as caramel or gum.
  • The tooth containing the crown is different in appearance from the natural teeth. Some patients begin to notice that the crown is a different color from their natural teeth. This is especially common if the adjacent teeth have recently been whitened.
  • If the crown is chipped, cracked, or damaged it will require replacement.

Can Zirconia Crowns Crack?