All-ceramic inlays, onlays, veneers, and crowns are some of the most esthetically pleasing prosthodontic restorations. Because there is no metal to block light transmission, they can resemble natural tooth structure better in terms of color and translucency than can any other restorative option. Their chief disadvantage is their susceptibility to fracture, although this is lessened by use of the resin-bonded technique.

The restorations may be fabricated in several ways. The technique (first developed more than 100 years ago) originally called for a platinum foil matrix to be intimately adapted to a die. This supported the porcelain during firing and prevented distortion. The foil was removed before cementation of the restoration.

Today, popular fabrication processes for the restorations include hot-pressing and slip-casting. These options are discussed in Chapter 25.


Complete ceramic crowns should have relatively even thickness circumferentially. For the hot-pressed ceramic crown (IPS Empress* or OPC) (Fig. 11-1), usually about 1 to 1.5 mm is needed to create an esthetically pleasing restoration. Incisally, a greater ceramic thickness may be required.

Only minor differences in tooth preparation design exist among the restorations fabricated with the various techniques. Therefore, the hot-pressed crown preparation is described in detail, and the necessary variations are discussed when pertinent.


The disadvantages of a complete ceramic crown include reduced strength of the restoration because of the absence of a reinforcing metal substructure. Because of the need for a shoulder-type margin circumferentially, significant tooth reduction is necessary on the proximal and lingual aspects. Porcelain brittleness, when combined with the lack of a reinforcing substructure, requires the incorporation of a circumferential support with a shoulder. Thus, by comparison, the proximal and lingual reductions are less conservative than those needed for a metal-ceramic crown.

Difficulties may be associated with obtaining a well-fitting margin when certain techniques are used. The “unforgiving” nature of porcelain, if an inadequate tooth preparation goes uncorrected, can result in fracture.

Proper preparation design is critical to ensuring mechanical success. A 90-degree cavosurface angleis needed to prevent unfavorable distribution of stresses and to minimize the risk of fracture (Fig. 11-2). The preparation should provide support for the porcelain along its entire incisal edge, unless a ceramic system that includes a high-strength core is chosen (see Chapter 25).

All-ceramic restorations are not effective as retainers for a fixed dental prosthesis, although the strongest of the slip-cast materials (In-Ceram Zirconia§) and the higher-strength pressed systems (IPS Empress 2) may be suitable for anterior applications. The brittle nature of porcelain necessitates that connectors of large, cross-sectional dimension (a minimum of 4 × 4 mm is recommended) be incorporated in the fixed dental prosthesis design. This typically leads to impingement on the interdental papilla by the connector, with increased potential for periodontal failure.

Wear has been observed on the functional surfaces of natural teeth that oppose porcelain restorations. This also applies to teeth opposed by metal-ceramic restorations, especially the mandibular incisors, which can exhibit significant wear over time (see Fig. 19-1).


The complete ceramic crown is indicated in areas with a high esthetic requirement where a more conservative restoration would be inadequate (Fig. 11-3). Usually such a tooth has proximal and/or facial caries that can no longer be effectively restored with composite resin.

The tooth should be relatively intact with sufficient coronal structure to support the restoration, particularly in the incisal area, where it is important not to exceed a maximum porcelain thickness of 2 mm; otherwise, failure of the brittle material will occur.

Because of the relative weakness of the restoration, the occlusal load should be favorably distributed (Fig. 11-4). In general, this means that centric contact must be in an area where the porcelain is supported by tooth structure (e.g., in the middle third of the lingual wall).


Step-by-step procedure

The preparation sequence for a ceramic crown (Fig. 11-7) is similar to that for a metal-ceramic crown; the principal difference is the need for a 1-mm-wide chamfer circumferentially (Fig. 11-8).

Jan 17, 2015 | Posted by in Prosthodontics | Comments Off on 11: TOOTH PREPARATION FOR ALL-CERAMIC RESTORATIONS
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