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J Dent. 2007 Nov;35(11):819-26. Epub 2007 Sep 6.

An overview of zirconia ceramics: basic properties and clinical applications.

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Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Institute of Clinical Dentistry, Largo F.Vito 1, 00168 Rome, Italy.


Zirconia (ZrO2) is a ceramic material with adequate mechanical properties for manufacturing of medical devices. Zirconia stabilized with Y2O3 has the best properties for these applications. When a stress occurs on a ZrO2 surface, a crystalline modification opposes the propagation of cracks. Compression resistance of ZrO2 is about 2000 MPa. Orthopedic research led to this material being proposed for the manufacture of hip head prostheses. Prior to this, zirconia biocompatibility had been studied in vivo; no adverse responses were reported following the insertion of ZrO2 samples into bone or muscle. In vitro experimentation showed absence of mutations and good viability of cells cultured on this material. Zirconia cores for fixed partial dentures (FPD) on anterior and posterior teeth and on implants are now available. Clinical evaluation of abutments and periodontal tissue must be performed prior to their use. Zirconia opacity is very useful in adverse clinical situations, for example, for masking of dischromic abutment teeth. Radiopacity can aid evaluation during radiographic controls. Zirconia frameworks are realized by using computer-aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. Cementation of Zr-ceramic restorations can be performed with adhesive luting. Mechanical properties of zirconium oxide FPDs have proved superior to those of other metal-free restorations. Clinical evaluations, which have been ongoing for 3 years, indicate a good success rate for zirconia FPDs. Zirconia implant abutments can also be used to improve the aesthetic outcome of implant-supported rehabilitations. Newly proposed zirconia implants seem to have good biological and mechanical properties; further studies are needed to validate their application.

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