(201) 298-8000 Free Consultation 385 Prospect Avenue, Suite 304

Zirconia vs Porcelain Crowns

Table of contents

All-porcelain or all-ceramic crowns are increasingly requested by patients looking for the best aesthetics. Many crowns are made from zirconia. This material often replaces traditional porcelain fused to metal crowns (PFMs).

If you need a new dental crown, you might wonder if one choice is better. Read on to discover the potential benefits of each option and possible downsides.

What Is Zirconia?

Zirconia is zirconium oxide and is a transitional metal that looks and feels like ceramic. It is found in items such as knives, where durability and strength are important. It is a great option for dental restorations, especially when strength is a significant factor. A zirconia crown can be an excellent choice for patients with bruxism and who need dental crowns that can withstand substantial forces created during clenching and grinding teeth.

What Is a Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown?

A porcelain fused to metal or PFM crown has a metal substructure overlaid with lifelike porcelain that closely matches the color of natural teeth. These restorations have been around for decades and are used to restore front and back teeth.

Zirconia vs Porcelain Crowns

Advantages of Zirconia Crowns Over Porcelain Crowns

As zirconia is such an advanced material, there are some advantages to choosing this more modern dental restoration, including the following.

Higher Strength

Zirconia is an extremely strong material compared with a PFM or other porcelain crowns. It can easily withstand the forces created when you bite and chew food without chipping or cracking. It would be rare for a zirconia crown to fail.

Other ceramic crowns are available, like e.max, but these are not as strong as zirconia. Pressable crowns are extremely good when restoring front teeth and provide good strength when restoring back teeth. However, if someone has bruxism, zirconia will be a better option.

Natural Looking Appearance

The latest zirconia crowns are natural-looking and have been designed to provide better translucency than those made from earlier versions of this material. They are often layered with special porcelain that further helps increase their aesthetic appeal.

In comparison, a PFM crown cannot always provide such good aesthetics. The metal substructure is covered with a thin layer of opaque porcelain to mask it, but this also prevents light from passing through the crown easily. Over time, gums can recede around the margin of the crown, exposing the edge of the PFM where the porcelain is thinner. This can result in a thin grey line that looks aesthetically unappealing.

Precision Fit

Zirconia crowns utilize CADCAM technology and are designed using a digital scan of the patient’s tooth. Digital dental impressions can provide a high degree of accuracy so that the margin of the crown is precision fitted. This is important because a good margin helps seal the tooth, protecting it and preventing bacteria naturally found in the mouth from penetrating it and causing dental infection and decay.


Because zirconia is so strong, it can last longer than a PFM. If maintained correctly, a PFM may last decades.


Although rare, some patients have sensitivities or metal allergies to the metals used in a PFM. Metal-free restorations like a zirconia crown will not cause these adverse reactions.

The smooth surface of zirconia is also more biocompatible with gum tissue, making it easier for the gums to adhere to the zirconia. A smoother surface is more hygienic, making it harder for dental plaque to stick to the crown.


Various forms of zirconia are available, depending on the restoration required. For example, there is a form of zirconia specifically for bruxism. Other types of zirconia have greater translucency and would work well when restoring front teeth where appearance is important.

The one area where a PFM will win over zirconia is the cost, as it is lower. However, this may be outweighed by other factors, such as the longevity and appearance of zirconia crowns. When you visit My New Jersey Dentist, we can review your dental health and discuss the pros and cons of zirconia crowns in more detail to help you decide which option will best meet your needs.

Page Updated on May 27, 2024 by Dr. Victoria Kushensky, DDS (Dentist) of My New Jersey Dentist
Victoria Kushensky D.D.S

My name is Victoria Kushensky. I am a general dentist dedicated to remaining at the forefront of my field. Combining compassionate care with extensive knowledge, I offer cosmetic and general dentistry services as well as advanced root canal treatments.

I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the esteemed New York University College of Dentistry. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in various dental procedures, ensuring effective treatment for each patient’s unique needs. I prioritize patient comfort and understanding, taking the time to thoroughly explain procedures and address any questions.

More about Dr. Kushensky

My NJ Dentist: Victoria Kushensky, DDS
385 Prospect Ave Suite 304
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 298-8000