We have all seen it: A beautiful crown with perfect margins that has a nice big chunk of porcelain that has fractured off the coping. It doesn’t matter if it is a porcelain fused to metal crown, or if it has a zirconia core. The problem is that you have two different materials bonded together that are hopefully stronger than the patients occlusion. It is hard to explain to a patient that the entire crown needs to be replaced in these cases, especially if the fracture is in an esthetic zone or at an interproximal contact.
Utimately, this is what I like about IPS e.Max from Ivoclar. It’s a monolithic material so you don’t worry about those sheer fractures. Plus, you can get away with less occlusal reduction since the material is stronger and you don’t have to worry about an ugly opaquing layer. It is still not as strong as gold or zirconia though, and I personally have had some failures in second molars where I knew we pushed the thin-ness a bit.
So the question has been asked in the past: What if there was a material as strong as zirconia with the esthetics of IPS e.Max? The solution may be a new material from 3M, called Lava Plus. It is a zirconia material designed for full contour crowns and bridges, and is actually very translucent. It doesn’t look anything like the usual opaque white of zirconia. Different from traditional surface stains, Lava Plus material can be dipped in dyes that will penetrate the surface. In other words, if you do some adjustments to the material, the color will be consistent. Just this past week I got a sample of this material from 3M ESPE. The pic is from right outside my office with the afternoon sun lighting the zirconia.
Lava Plus is only available for labs that have Lava capabilities, and is currently not available for in-office CAD/CAM users. Keep in mind you can still veneer this material if you are doing an anterior case and want to up the translucency a step further.