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A Review of the Characteristics and Optimization of Optical Properties of Zirconia Ceramics for Aesthetic Dental Restorations

Authors: R. A. Shahmiri, O. C. Standard, J. N. Hart, C. C. Sorrell


The ceramic yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia polycrystal (Y-TZP) has been used as a dental biomaterial for several decades. The strength and toughness of this material can be accounted for by its toughening mechanisms, which include transformation toughening, crack deflection, zone shielding, contact shielding, and crack bridging. Prevention of crack propagation is of critical importance in high-fatigue situations, such as those encountered in mastication and para-function. However, the poor translucence of Y-TZP in polycrystalline form is such that it may not meet the aesthetic requirements due to its white/grey appearance. To improve the optical properties of Y-TZP, more detailed study of the optical properties is required; in particular, precise evaluation of the refractive index, absorption coefficient, and scattering coefficient are necessary. The measurement of the optical parameters has been based on the assumption that light scattered from biological media is isotropically distributed over all angles. In fact, the optical behavior of real biological materials depends on the angular scattering of light due to the anisotropic nature of the materials. The purpose of the present work is to evaluate the optical properties (including color, opacity/translucence, scattering, and fluorescence) of zirconia dental ceramics and their control through modification of the chemical composition, phase composition, and surface microstructure.

Keywords: Optical properties, opacity/translucence, scattering, fluorescence, chemical composition, phase composition, surface microstructure.

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