Porcelain fused to zirconia (PFZ) restorations are widely used in prosthetic dentistry. However, their susceptibility to fracture remains a practical problem. The failure of PFZ prostheses often involves crack initiation and growth in the porcelain, which may be followed by fracture along the porcelain/zirconia (P/Z) interface. In this work, we characterized the process of fracture in two PFZ systems, as well as a newly developed graded glass-zirconia structure with emphases placed on resistance to interfacial cracking. Thin porcelain layers were fused onto Y-TZP plates with or without the presence of a glass binder. The specimens were loaded in a four-point-bending fixture with the thin porcelain veneer in tension, simulating the lower portion of the connectors and marginal areas of a fixed dental prosthesis (FDP) during occlusal loading. The evolution of damage was observed by a video camera. The fracture was characterized by unstable growth of cracks perpendicular to the P/Z interface (channel cracks) in the porcelain layer, which was followed by stable cracking along the P/Z interface. The interfacial fracture energy GC was determined by a finite-element analysis taking into account stress-shielding effects due to the presence of adjacent channel cracks. The resulting GC was considerably less than commonly reported values for similar systems. Fracture in the graded Y-TZP samples occurred via a single channel crack at a much greater stress than for PFZ. No delamination between the residual glass layer and graded zirconia occurred in any of the tests. Combined with its enhanced resistance to edge chipping and good esthetic quality, graded Y-TZP emerges as a viable material concept for dental restorations.
- All-ceramic dental restorations
- Graded zirconia
- Interfacial fracture energy
- Porcelain-veneered zirconia