Dental ceramic restorations are increasingly popular alternatives to metal dental work like amalgam fillings and metal crowns. Ceramics like porcelain are tooth-colored, natural-looking, and very strong and durable. At Lansdowne Family Dental, we offer a variety of ceramic dental restorations to repair and replace damaged or decayed teeth.

What Are Dental Ceramics?

Dental ceramics are non-metallic materials that are inert, non-toxic, and very strong. They are primarily made from crystalline minerals like porcelain. Here are some key facts about ceramic materials used in dentistry:

  • Primarily contain inorganic compounds like feldspar, quartz, lithium disilicate
  • Fabricated by heating the raw materials to high temperatures
  • Translucent or tooth-colored to mimic natural teeth
  • Very resistant to compression forces from biting
  • Polishes to a smooth, stain-resistant surface
  • Does not corrode like metal restorations
  • Bonds well to tooth structure using dental cement
  • Custom-designed and created for each patient
  • Used for inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, and fixed bridges

Dental ceramics provide both strength and excellent esthetics. New materials and bonding agents make ceramic restorations highly durable and functional while giving beautiful, natural-looking results.

Benefits of Ceramic Dental Restorations

Ceramic dental restorations offer many advantages over metal options:

  • Tooth-colored – Ceramics like porcelain match the color of natural teeth and look very natural. This gives a beautiful, bright smile.
  • Durable and strong – Modern dental ceramics are very resistant to cracking and chipping. With proper care, they can last over 10 years.
  • Stain resistant – The smooth ceramic surface does not absorb stains easily and stays white.
  • Metal-free – Ceramics are a great choice for those with metal allergies.
  • Biocompatible – Ceramic materials are chemically inert and do not cause reactions in the mouth.
  • Conservative prep – Ceramic crowns require less aggressive tooth reduction than metal crowns. More of the natural tooth is preserved.
  • Versatile – Ceramics can be used for all kinds of restorations like crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, and veneers.

Types of Ceramic Dental Restorations

There are several kinds of ceramics used in dentistry today. The most common options include:

Porcelain Fused to Metal Crowns

Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns have an inner metal core covered by an outer layer of porcelain. The metal provides strength while the porcelain gives an attractive, natural appearance.

All-Ceramic Crowns

All ceramic crowns are made entirely from ceramic materials without any metal core. Some popular choices include:

  • Lithium disilicate crowns like IPS e.max – Highly esthetic, very strong restorations.
  • Zirconia crowns – Made from zirconium oxide. Extremely durable and fracture-resistant.
  • Leucite-reinforced porcelain crowns – Leucite crystals reinforce the porcelain for added strength.

Ceramic Veneers

Very thin shells of porcelain that cover the front surface of teeth to improve esthetics. Less tooth reduction is needed than for crowns.

Ceramic Inlays and Onlays

Inlays fit inside the chewing surface of the tooth while onlays cover a larger surface. Made from porcelain or composite resin.

The Dental Ceramic Restoration Process

Getting ceramic restorations is generally a multi-step process:

  1. Diagnosis and treatment planning – The dentist will examine the tooth and recommend the best ceramic restoration option.
  2. Tooth preparation – Some natural teeth must be removed so the ceramic restoration can be placed. The dentist will gently reduce the tooth size following specific guidelines. Local anesthesia is used to ensure your comfort.
  3. Impressions – Molds or impressions of the prepared tooth are taken and sent to a dental laboratory. This may be digital or use impression material.
  4. Temporary restoration – A temporary restoration will be placed to protect the tooth while the permanent ceramic restoration is made.
  5. Try-in appointment – You will return to try the ceramic restoration once complete to ensure proper fit, shape, and color match. Minor adjustments may be made.
  6. Bonding appointment – The final restoration is bonded in place using dental cement. For a crown, the dentist will first check contacts and your bite.
  7. Post-op visit – Follow up with your dentist as needed to ensure your restoration fits properly and your bite feels comfortable. Professional cleanings help maintain ceramic restorations.

Comparison of Ceramic Restoration Materials

Porcelain Fused to MetalHighModerateLow
Lithium DisilicateHighHighModerate
ZirconiaVery HighModerateHigh
Leucite-reinforced PorcelainModerateHighLow

When to Choose Ceramic Restorations

Ceramic restorations are suitable for repairing or replacing teeth in many situations:

IndicationCeramic Solution
Severely decayed or fractured teethCrowns or onlays
Discolored or stained teethVeneers or crowns
Cracked or worn-down teethCrowns or veneers
Teeth with large fillingsInlays, onlays, or crowns
Gap teethVeneers or crowns

Caring for Ceramic Dental Work

Ceramic restorations stay beautiful and intact for years with proper home care:

  • Brush normally twice a day and floss daily
  • Avoid chewing hard foods like ice that can crack ceramics
  • Wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth
  • Get regular dental cleanings and exams
  • See your dentist if you chip the ceramic

Ceramic dental restorations allow us to repair and rebuild damaged teeth while providing maximum esthetics and conservation of tooth structure. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your best options. We provide personalized solutions to help you regain your beautiful, healthy smile.

FAQs About Ceramic Dental Restorations

How long do ceramic crowns and veneers last?

With proper care, good oral hygiene, and regular dental visits, ceramic crowns and veneers typically last 10-15 years or longer before needing replacement. Less durable types like leucite-reinforced porcelain may only last 5-10 years.

Do ceramic crowns look natural?

High-quality ceramic crowns like porcelain fused to metal or zirconia look very life-like and mimic the light reflection of natural teeth. Impressions ensure an exact fit so margins are nearly invisible. Skilled cosmetic dentists can match the color perfectly.

Are ceramic crowns better than porcelain?

Porcelain is a type of ceramic, so porcelain crowns are a type of ceramic crown. However, some ceramics like zirconia are even stronger than porcelain. Talk to your dentist about the best and most durable options for your situation.

Can a ceramic crown break?

Ceramic crowns are very strong but not immune to fracture. A porcelain crown can potentially chip or crack if subjected to very heavy biting forces, trauma from sports or accidents, or large changes in temperature from hot to cold. Proper wear and care minimize the risk of damage.

How painful is it to get a ceramic crown?

Having a ceramic crown placed is generally not a very painful procedure. Your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the tooth so you do not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Some sensitivity or mild discomfort is normal afterward as the numbness wears off but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Ceramic dental restorations allow us to repair and rebuild damaged teeth while providing maximum esthetics and conservation of tooth structure. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your best options. We provide personalized solutions to help you regain your beautiful, healthy smile.