Differences between various dental materials


In the ever-evolving field of modern dentistry, a variety of dental materials are available that offer clinicians a wide range of options for restorative and prosthetic treatments. Among the many available materials, zirconia blocks, lithium disilicate and PMMA are popular choices for a variety of applications. Each material has unique properties and characteristics, so it is important for clinicians to differentiate between them in order to select the option that best suits the patient's needs.

1.Zirconia Block

Zirconia is a versatile and durable dental material that is hugely popular in the field of restorative dentistry. Zirconia blocks are made from zirconia powder and are formed into their final shape after a sintering process. Zirconia is extremely strong and is ideal for making crowns, bridges and implant supported restorations. Zirconia is widely used in clinical practice due to its high biocompatibility and minimal wear on the dentin.

Features of zirconia blocks:
1. excellent strength: zirconia has excellent mechanical properties, including high flexural and bending strength, making it suitable for posterior restorations that are subject to high occlusal forces.
2. Aesthetic options: White zirconia blocks are the most traditional, but as patients have become more aesthetically pleasing, dental researchers have developed pre-coloured zirconia blocks, as well as multilayered zirconia blocks with a more natural colour transition.
3. Biocompatibility: Zirconia is biocompatible and hypoallergenic, minimising the risk of adverse reactions or tissue irritation in patients.

2.Lithium Disilicate

Lithium Disilicate is a glass-ceramic material known for its superior aesthetics and versatility in restorative dentistry. Lithium disilicate is derived from lithium metasilicate and quartz, which undergoes controlled crystallisation to form its final form. Lithium Disilicate restorations combine strength, translucency and aesthetics and are suitable for a wide range of applications including crowns, veneers and inlays/laminates.

Features of lithium disilicate:
1. natural aesthetics: lithium disilicate has excellent translucency and colour-matching capabilities, allowing for the creation of aesthetically pleasing restorations that closely resemble natural tooth enamel.
2. Medium strength: Although not as strong as zirconia, lithium disilicate provides adequate strength for anterior restorations and microloaded posterior restorations.
3. Bonding ability: Lithium Disilicate bonds to tooth structure, providing a secure and durable attachment that minimises the dental process and saves work time.


PMMA is commonly used in the fabrication of dental temporary restorations, temporary dentures and diagnostic wax-ups.PMMA can be made into resin blocks or trays that are milled using CAD/CAM technology to create temporary crowns, bridges and dentures.

Features of PMMA:
1. temporary restorations: PMMA is well suited for the fabrication of temporary crowns, bridges and dentures, providing patients with temporary restorations while permanent restorations are being fabricated.
2. Easy to fabricate: PMMA resin blocks can be easily milled using CAD/CAM technology, allowing for fast and efficient fabrication of temporary restorations with precise fit and aesthetics.
3. Cost-effective: PMMA is a cost-effective option for temporary restorations, providing clinicians with an economical solution without compromising quality and performance.

Briefly summarise the differences between the materials:
1. Strength and durability: Zirconia has excellent strength and durability and is suitable for posterior restorations subjected to high occlusal forces. Lithium disilicate has moderate strength and is ideal for anterior restorations and less loaded posterior restorations. PMMA is mainly used for temporary restorations and diagnostic wax-ups and has lower mechanical properties compared to zirconia and lithium disilicate.

2. Aesthetics: Although all three materials are aesthetically pleasing, lithium disilicate is preferred for highly aesthetic anterior restorations as it is known for its natural translucency and colour matching ability. Zirconia can be made into translucent formulations suitable for anterior restorations, while PMMA is primarily used for temporary restorations and diagnostic purposes.

3. Uses: Zirconia is commonly used for crowns, bridges and implant-supported restorations in anterior and posterior teeth. Lithium disilicate is used for anterior crowns, veneers and microloaded posterior restorations, while PMMA is mainly used for temporary crowns, bridges, dentures and diagnostic wax-ups.

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