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German researchers develop high-strength material for dental crown

Researchers have developed a robust glass-ceramic for dental crowns that can be seated during the first dental visit. (Photograph: Golubovy/Shutterstock)

Tue. 28. May 2019


WÜRZBURG, Germany: Conventionally, the production of a dental crown requires several dentist appointments in order to complete the treatment. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC (Fraunhofer ISC) in Würzburg collaborated with two other German companies, namely VITA Zahnfabrik and DeguDent, to break new ground for their research. Together, they have developed a high-strength glass-ceramic for crowns that can be inserted during the patient’s first dental appointment.

During the dental crown production process, the strength of a dental crown would typically be increased by pushing the crystalline phase as high as possible. “Instead, we have altered the properties of the glass phase—and achieved something amazing,” explained Dr Bernhard Durschang, a researcher at the institute. Durschang has been developing glass and glass-ceramics at the Fraunhofer ISC since 1996. “Adding various metal oxides to the amorphous portion increases its strength. Thus, the amorphous portion of the unpleasant residual glass, that you want to get rid of, is transformed into useful content that even increases the overall strength,” he noted.

“At more than 500 MPa, our glass-ceramics are significantly stronger and more robust than conventional glass-ceramics, which only reach around 350 MPa,” said Dr Jörn Probst, another researcher at the institute. The new material no longer requires postcuring in the furnace and boasts an enamel-like translucency in various shades to achieve a natural appearance. Thus, the crown can be optimally selected according to the patient’s tooth shade. Most importantly, the new crown can be inserted immediately during the first treatment.

The project ranged from the initial solution idea through material development to the CE-certified production plant. In recognition of their achievements in the dental field, Fraunhofer ISC recently awarded Durschang and Probst the Fraunhofer “Human-Centered Technology” Prize for their significant contribution to improving people’s quality of life.

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