Zirconia Preparation Guidelines

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Anterior and posterior teeth prepped as shown in guidelines for zirconia crown

Zirconia restorations represent a technologically advanced, metal-free option for dental restorations. They offer an array of milling pucks, significant shade variation, and translucencies, making them highly versatile for various clinical situations. Known for their durability, strength, and precise fitting, zirconia restorations are an excellent choice for both anterior and posterior teeth. The following guidelines provide detailed instructions for preparing teeth for zirconia crowns to ensure optimal restoration outcomes.

Sections of Guidelines:

The Importance of Tooth Preparation for Zirconia Crowns:

Proper tooth preparation is essential for successful ceramic restorations. Smooth edges, a passive fit, and uniform reduction reduce stress on the crown, strengthen the ceramic material, and ensure accurate digital scanner readings. These steps are crucial for creating better-fitting and longer-lasting restorations. To achieve optimal impression quality, gingival retraction is recommended unless the margins are supragingival.

Preparation Guidelines for Anterior Zirconia Crowns

For anterior zirconia crowns, it is important to adhere to the following measurements:

Anterior Tooth Preparation for Zirconia Guidelines with measurements


  • Minimum Wall Thickness (Clearance):
    • Minimum: 0.5 mm
    • Ideally: 1.0 mm – 1.5 mm
  • Incisal Reduction: 1.8 mm – 2.0 mm
  • Chamfer: Continuous circumferential chamfer with at least 0.5 mm gingival margin reduction
  • Preparation Angle: Horizontal and vertical preparation angle should be approximately 5-10°
  • Rounded Edges: Use a football diamond to create rounded incisal edges and a concave lingual surface

Preparation Guidelines for Posterior Zirconia Crowns

Posterior Tooth Preparation for Zirconia Guidelines with measurements

For posterior zirconia crowns, the following measurements should be followed:

  • Minimum Wall Thickness (Clearance):
    • Minimum: 0.5 mm
    • Ideally: 1.0 mm – 1.5 mm
  • Occlusal Reduction: 1.5 mm – 2.0 mm
  • Tapered Preparation: 4° – 8°
  • Chamfer: Continuous circumferential chamfer with at least 0.5 mm gingival margin reduction
  • Rounded Occlusal Edges: Use a football diamond to create rounded incisal edges and a concave lingual surface

Zirconia Crown Prep: Chamfer or Shoulder

Chamfer and Shoulder Demonstration showing the difference

Both shoulder and chamfer preparations are ideal for zirconia restorations, each offering unique advantages. Also known as the finish line in zirconia crown preparation, the choice between these preparations should be based on specific clinical and aesthetic requirements:

Chamfer Preparation

A chamfer preparation creates a concave, bevelled edge around the tooth, offering:

  • Aesthetic Integration: Smooth transition with natural tooth structure.
  • Reduced Stress: Minimises risk of fractures in the zirconia.
  • Gingival Health: Less invasive to gingival tissue, promoting healthier conditions.

Shoulder Preparation

A shoulder preparation creates a flat, horizontal edge, providing:

  • Retention and Stability: Broader surface area enhances crown stability.
  • Support for Veneering Ceramics: Ensures a stable and durable restoration.
  • Aesthetic Customisation: Precise control over the crown’s emergence profile.

Zirconia Crown Preparation Burs

Zirconia Crown Preparation burs needed for Preparing Teeth for Zirconia Crowns

  • Round-End Tapered Diamond Bur: Creating the concave, bevelled edge for chamfer finish lines.
  • Flat-End Tapered Diamond Bur: Creating the flat, horizontal edge for shoulder finish lines.
  • Football Diamond Bur: Rounding the incisal edges of the crown, especially for anterior teeth.
  • Round Diamond Bur: Reducing occlusal surfaces for posterior crowns.
  • Fine Grit Diamond Bur: Smoothing and refining the marginal finishing lines for both chamfer and shoulder preparations.
  • Fine Diamond Polishing Bur: Polishing the prepared tooth surface before taking impressions or scanning.

Improper Zirconia Crown Preparation Examples

There are certain preparation techniques that are unsuitable for zirconia crowns:

  • Avoid undercuts or gutter preparation.
  • Parallel wall preparations are not suitable.
  • Sharp incisal or occlusal edges are not recommended as they can compromise the integrity of the zirconia restoration.

Example 1: Over-Reduction and Sharp Edges

  • Wall Thickness: Reduced to 3.0 mm (should be 1.0-1.5 mm).
  • Incisal Reduction: Exceeds 2.5 mm (should be 1.8-2.0 mm).
  • Sharp Edges: Not rounded, leading to stress points.

Bad Zirconia Crown Prep with sharp edges angle


  • Over-reduction weakens the tooth and crown.
  • Sharp edges increase risk of crown fracture.


Example 2: Inadequate Chamfer and Taper

  • Chamfer: Less than 0.5 mm (should be at least 0.5 mm).
  • Taper: Exceeds 15° (should be 4°-8°).

Posterior Tooth preparation with too much taper


  • Insufficient chamfer leads to poor fit.
  • Excessive taper makes the crown less stable.


Example 3: Parallel Walls and Undercuts

  • Parallel Walls: Should have a taper of 4°-8°.
  • Undercuts: Presence of undercuts is not suitable.

Undercut in Tooth Prep for Zirconia


  • Parallel walls reduce crown retention.
  • Undercuts prevent proper crown seating, causing gaps.


These guidelines are designed to assist you in preparing teeth for zirconia restorations, ensuring high-quality outcomes and patient satisfaction. Following these preparation techniques will maximise the durability, aesthetics, and overall success of your zirconia dental restorations.


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