Duration: 47 minutes, 49 seconds

Author: Dr. Anas Aloum, Dr. Mamaly Reshad

Which Ceramic Should I Use? A Clinical Perspective – Part 1

Which Ceramic Should I Use? A Clinical Perspective – Part 1


Choosing the right restorative material for dental procedures is crucial for achieving successful outcomes. In this article, we will delve into the world of ceramics from a clinical perspective. The information presented here is based on a transcript from a presentation given by prosthodontists from the University of Southern California. It is important to note that the data collected for this presentation is from mid-2011, so some advancements and updates may have occurred since then.

The Importance of Material Selection

Proper material selection plays a significant role in the success of restorations. Not only does the choice of material affect the aesthetics of the final result, but it also impacts the longevity and durability of the restoration. With a wide array of ceramics available in the market, it is essential to have a systematic approach to select the best material for each clinical situation.

Understanding Different Types of Ceramics

Ceramics used in dentistry can be broadly categorized into two main types: traditional ceramics and modern ceramics. Traditional ceramics include materials like porcelain, while modern ceramics encompass zirconia, lithium disilicate, and other newer options. Let’s explore the characteristics and clinical applications of each type:

Traditional Ceramics

Traditional ceramics, such as porcelain, have been widely used in dentistry for many years. They exhibit excellent esthetics and can closely mimic the natural appearance of teeth. These materials are commonly used in anterior restorations, where aesthetics are of utmost importance.

Modern Ceramics

Zirconia, a type of modern ceramic, has gained popularity due to its superior strength and durability. It is ideal for posterior restorations, especially in cases where higher chewing forces are expected. Lithium disilicate is another modern ceramic that offers good strength and esthetics, making it suitable for a range of restorations.

Key Considerations in Material Selection

When choosing the right ceramic material for a specific clinical situation, several factors must be taken into account:


The desired esthetic outcome greatly influences the choice of ceramic material. Porcelain is often preferred for its ability to replicate the natural appearance of teeth, making it a suitable option for anterior restorations. Zirconia and lithium disilicate also offer good esthetics, but slight variations may exist compared to porcelain.

Strength and Durability

For posterior restorations subjected to higher chewing forces, materials with superior strength and durability, such as zirconia, are preferred. These ceramics can withstand the stresses of occlusion and provide long-term stability.

Each ceramic material has its unique handling requirements, and the clinician’s skill level should be considered. Some ceramics may demand more extensive preparation and highly specialized techniques, while others offer greater ease of use and simplified preparation protocols.

The biocompatibility of ceramic materials is crucial to consider when selecting materials for restorations. The chosen material should not trigger any adverse reactions in the patient’s oral tissues.

Cost is a significant factor when choosing ceramics for restorations. Traditional ceramics, like porcelain, are often more affordable compared to newer options, such as zirconia. Careful consideration of the cost-benefit ratio should be made while ensuring optimal clinical outcomes.


Choosing the right ceramic material for restorative dental procedures is critical to achieving successful and long-lasting outcomes. By considering factors such as esthetics, strength, ease of use, biocompatibility, and cost, clinicians can make informed decisions in selecting the most appropriate material for each clinical situation. It is important to stay updated with the latest advancements in ceramics, as this presentation was based on data collected in mid-2011. By staying abreast of the latest research and developments, clinicians can provide their patients with the best possible restorative solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use porcelain for posterior restorations?

Porcelain is not typically recommended for posterior restorations due to its inferior strength compared to materials like zirconia. However, there may be specific cases where porcelain can be a viable option. Consult with your dentist to determine the best choice for your individual needs.

2. Is zirconia aesthetically pleasing?

Zirconia offers good esthetics, but it may not precisely mimic the translucency and color variations present in natural teeth. The final esthetic outcome may vary depending on the specific case and the dentist’s expertise.

3. Are there any allergies or sensitivities associated with ceramic materials?

Ceramic materials used in dentistry are known for their biocompatibility, meaning they do not typically cause allergies or sensitivities. However, rare cases of individual sensitivities can occur. If you have concerns, discuss them with your dentist before undergoing any restorative procedures.

4. How long do ceramic restorations typically last?

The lifespan of ceramic restorations depends on various factors, including the material used, the patient’s oral hygiene habits, and any additional risk factors present. On average, well-maintained ceramic restorations can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years or even longer.

5. Can I switch to a different ceramic material if I’m not satisfied with the result?

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your restoration, it is important to communicate your concerns to your dentist. Depending on the specific case, it may be possible to replace the restoration with a different ceramic material. Your dentist will work with you to determine the best course of action.

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