Zirconia crown fracture
Yes, zirconia crown fracture does occur. When it does it is often due to poor prep design or poor handling of the material. If you want to see some zirconia framework fractures click here.
Zirconia crown fracture due to poor prep design
The main prep design issue is not giving the laboratory enough space. Technically the minimum occlusal reduction is 0.5 mm, but 1 mm is ideal. Personally I aim for 2mm knowing I will end up short somewhere. Another issue is dentists prepping for a high quality brand zirconia but using some other zirconia product. Not all zirconia is the same and the prep clearance requirements will vary. For instance, BruxZir anterior restorations require a minimum occlusal reduction of 0.8 mm and 1.25 mm is ideal, but other less esthetic zirconia is only .5mm.
Another prep design issue is leaving sharp corners or edges. This can induce a point of contact where crack prorogation can begin. Stress concentration occurs at the point where the sharp edge of the tooth meets the zirconia.
Zirconia crown fracture due to poor material handling
The are many ways the lab that manufactures the material can cause fracture and there a ways the manufacturer of the product can as well, however I will focus just on the dentist’s issues. As dentists the way we can cause a zirconia crown fracture is by drilling on the crown, especially without copious water spray. This is done while adjusting a crown to fit on the tooth preparation. Adjusts that cause Bruxzir crown fracture can be inside the crown, interproximal, or occlusal. Of course an endodontic access also requires significant drilling of the zirconia crown. The only time I have seen this be a problem is with endodontic access of a tooth that has a zirconia crown. This is the cause of one of the two zirconia products I have personally seen fracture.
The most common reason zirconia is cracking and breaking is simply that it is too thin.
As you can see in this graph the thickness of zirconia has s big impact on it’s strength. Even is dentists supply 1.5mm of clearance, which is difficult to verify in every location, then the milling procedure will chew up some of that.