Zirconia and E-Max dental crown: which is better?

Update in January 11, 2024

Zirconia and E-Max dental crown which is better

Dental crowns are made from different materials and sold by various brands. E.max and Zicornia are two brands that manufacture dental crowns. However, the two brands use very different materials to produce dental crowns, therefore the distinction between the two are more than just marketing. E.max crowns are made from lithium disilicate, whereas Zicornia crowns are made from a material known as zirconium. Therefore, the looks, functionality and the durability of these crows can differ depending on the material.

Dentists consider several key factors when choosing the best material (or brand) for dental crowns. The particular factors considered most often are the properties of the material, the shape, texture, durability, and color. Read ahead to learn more about E.max and zirconium dental crowns and to decide on whether one brand is better for you than the other:

Zirconia crown

A type of ceramic material, zirconia oxide is used for making full or partial crowns. To give your teeth a natural appearance, you can select from a number of shades that will best match the color of your original teeth. This way, you will feel more confident about flashing your smile since no one can tell if you are wearing crowns or not, especially with cutback (porcelain covers) and DSD (Digital Smile Design) technology you will able to have very natural, white, straight teeth in just couple of days. (Most likely 6 working days)

Advantages of Choosing Zirconia Crowns

Advantages of Choosing Zirconia Crowns

  • Zirconia crowns are highly biocompatible, as the smooth surface helps to reduce plaque accumulation. Layered zirconia crowns are extremely durable. Even though the porcelain used for layering does not have the strength of solid zirconia, they are designed to bond with the zirconium substructure, making chipping or fracturing extremely rare. The material also promotes a healthy tissue response.
  • Due to a wide variety of factors including chemical composition and processing requirements, there are many ways zirconia can be manufactured to suit the needs of the patient. This customization minimizes the margin for error and ensures excellent fit for each individual.
  • Zirconia is suitable for patients with metal allergies or who would prefer to have metal-free restorations.
  • Zirconia is metal-free, which prevents darkening around the gingival area. This eliminates the possibility of metal margins becoming exposed due to gum recession.
  • The translucent nature of this material can transmit the color of adjacent teeth and it is manufactured in a wide variety of shades, making it easy to accurately match the color of the patient’s natural teeth.
  • Using computer-aided design and manufacturing processes provide patients with a precise fit, reducing the chair-side time required for adjusting and cementing these restorations.
  • Zirconia crowns can be conventionally cemented in place by using Bisco’s Z-Prime Plus, then applying the bonding agent of choice to prep, followed by dual-cure resin cement.
  • Zirconia crowns are comfortable for patients, as they do not transmit hot and cold in the same way as conventional PFMs.

How Zirconia Crowns are Made?

How Zirconia Crowns are Made

 The process of making zirconia crowns is far less complicated than the process for composite ceramic crowns. It starts at the dental office. First, the dentist makes an impression of a patient’s teeth. The dentist then sends this impression to a lab, where a technician pours die into the impression to make a mold of the teeth. The technician then cuts the mold into sections and scans it using a laser, red lights, or blue-light technology. Afterward, they upload the scan into a computer with CAD software that designs the crown. The technician may design the crown, as well.

 These steps differ if the dentist has CEREC® technology available at their office. CEREC® manufactures a tool called an Omnicam, which dentists can use to scan patients’ teeth. No impressions are required. The scanned data uploads to a computer with software that designs the crown. Both in the lab and with CEREC® equipment, technicians send the crown design from their computer to a milling/grinding machine. This machine reads the designs and creates the zirconia crown from a solid block of zirconia. A lab may send their designs to a factory to manufacture the crown, or they might mill the zirconia crown themselves. After the crown is made, technicians (or factory workers) may add coloring to the crown. After this, they sinter it. Sintering refers to the process of baking a material at a very high heat (between 2730°F and 2910°F for zirconia) in order to harden it.

Once the sintering is finished, the dental technician textures, smooths, and glazes the crown. At this point, it is ready for the dentist to fit it in their patient’s mouth.


While the list of disadvantages to zirconia is short, it is worth noting. No material is perfect for everyone. It should also be noted that zirconia, while thoroughly tested in various industries, is a newer material for dental crowns than composite ceramic and metal. Fewer case studies have therefore been conducted on zirconia crowns than other types of crowns. Known disadvantages of zirconia crowns include:

  • Limited translucence. Zirconia is not as translucent as porcelain or lithium disilicate(IPS) and therefore does not look as much like natural teeth as these other materials. Some dentists suggest using zirconia for posterior teeth (molars) and IPS for anterior (front) teeth.
  • Greater difficulty detecting decay under the crown (because crown is so durable).
  • Zirconia is generally one of the most expensive types of crown. However, the cost varies greatly from dentist to dentist.
  • Dentists’ preferences. Some dentists prefer gold or composite crowns due to zirconia’s hardness. They may also simply be more comfortable working with crown materials they better understand.

What is the Emax crown?

As for E-max, otherwise known as Lithium Silicate, it has some distinct features although it is also a type of ceramic just like zirconia. However, this material is not often used to make a partial crown or a core, although it may be utilized in making a full crown while adding some more porcelain finish as necessary.

In terms of appearance, E-max is has a more translucent quality, as compared to most zirconia. This is why there is no need to stain this material as it provides a more natural appearance to your teeth.
Emax based all-ceramic prostheses are rapidly gaining widespread popularity in cosmetic dentistry due to their excellent esthetics, durability, and strength.

The Emax system is most suitable for the crowns and veneers of your front teeth. Emax is also the ideal choice for the short-span bridges for your anterior / front teeth.

Who can Benefit from the Emax crown?


The Emax all-ceramic offers a cosmetic solution for the correction of following esthetic defects:

  • Stained Teeth– say goodbye to your stained teeth with the Emax crowns and veneers. These all-porcelain prostheses are highly translucent and possess excellent fracture and chipping resistance.
  • Crooked Teeth– Emax crowns can also be used to restore the structure and shape of crooked teeth, especially in the anterior region.
  • Root Canal Treated Teeth– Teeth on which a root canal procedure has been performed, tend to become brittle and fragile. Emax crowns offer an excellent blend of esthetics as well as strength for restoring such teeth.
  • Fractured Teeth– teeth that get fractured either due to extensive cavities or trauma, can also be restored with Emax crowns.

What are the Benefits of the Emax crown?

What are the Benefits of the Emax crown

Emax system based prostheses possess several advantages, which make them ideal for fabrication of fixed prostheses in the anterior region:

  • Best Match to your Natural Teeth– an important esthetic requirement for all-ceramic prostheses is that they should possess sufficient translucency that matches your natural teeth. Emax crowns possess an ideal blend of translucency and lifelike appearance, that makes them suitable for restoration of front teeth. They are more translucent than zirconia crowns!
  • All-ceramic Prostheses– Emax based prostheses do not contain any metal alloy beneath the porcelain. This means that a unsightly grey line of the underlying metal will not be visible at the gumlines, and the crowns will look just like your natural teeth.
  • Durability– Emax crowns are prepared from lithium disilicate, which is a glass ceramic and possesses excellent strength. Thus, Emax crowns are less likely to crack or fracture during clinical usage. They are less likely to chip when compared to zirconia crowns!
  • Ability to be Milled– another benefit of Emax crowns is that they can be quickly fabricated by using CAD CAM milling. Emax crowns are prepared from a high quality monolithic block of Lithium disilicate. All the dentist needs to do, is to prepare the teeth, make a digital impression and feed It into the CAD-CAM machine software, and voila! Emax crowns are ready for cementation!
  • Conservation of Tooth Structure– since Emax crowns possess excellent strength and fracture resistance, these crowns can be prepared in very thin sections. This not only ensures optimal esthetics, but also requires minimal removal of natural tooth structure during preparation. The more the tooth structure you have, better is your oral health. When you have more tooth structure, your tooth stands stronger.
  • Multiple Options for Teeth Restoration– the best thing about the Emax system is that it is not limited to all-ceramic crowns only. Rather, this system can also be used to fabricate veneers, inlays, onlays, overlays, and even short-span bridges to replace front teeth.

Disadvantages of Emax crown

  • High price– superior looks of Emax come at a higher price.
  • Not ideal for posterior/ back teeth– though rare, Emax crowns may fracture when we try to fit them on your occlusal / biting surfaces. This is because they are thin. However, Emax crowns are more suitable for front teeth as we don’t use them for hard biting. If you want to use Emax for posterior teeth because of looks, we need to trim your teeth more so that Emax gets enough thickness to seat. The strength of your crown always depends on the thickness. Thicker the crown, better it withstands the biting forces.
  • May not suit darker teeth– as Emax is more translucent than zirconia, they look more natural than zirconia. However, if your natural tooth is on the darker side, zirconia suits you more.
  • Suitable only for smaller bridges– Emax is suitable for replacing only a single tooth. It may not withstand forces for replacing more than one tooth.

Which is Better?

Which is Better

E.max and Zirconia are both metal-free dental crowns. However, each embodies unique characteristics that make them suitable for use interchangeably for different occasions. Both are also relatively new materials, unlike PFM, which has been in use for over 50 years. Even dentists may have trouble choosing between the two. Your choice between E.max and Zirconia should depend on your dental condition and dentist’s recommendation. It’s also important to understand both the benefits and risks associated with the two materials before choosing one.

Both E-max and zirconium crowns could be used to fix broken or otherwise damaged teeth, severely decayed teeth, missing teeth, discolored teeth, or crooked teeth. Both materials can effectively replace old PFM crowns showing metal lines. If there’s a distinguishable difference between the two, it’s that E-max is noticeably more translucent. Patients who want their front teeth replaced to restore smiles may prefer E-max for its translucency. There’s a common misconception that zirconium is better for back teeth than E-max crowns. Though E-max crowns are translucent, the material can be molded to be sturdy enough to replace back molars.

Just keep in mind, though, that the choice between these two materials still depends on the crown’s location in your mouth. For instance, if there is a darker tooth located underneath, zirconia is a better option as it does not allow more light to enter. And also dentists do not recommend this option to using in gap or bridge places.

Whether you use E-max or zirconium crowns depends on how many crowns you require as well. While both are highly suited for replacing a single tooth, multiple usage in dental brides or for side-by-side teeth should follow serious dental consideration. You might also want to consider the properties of zirconium crowns that use material like porcelain.

It’s difficult to choose between E-max and zirconium. Both offer top-grade results for long-lasting dental crowns. As mentioned before, E-max is more translucent than zirconium, and that’s the only noticeable difference between the two materials. Consult with your dentist to decide which material is best suited to your dental crown treatment.

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