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Demystifying Dental Materials:

A Guide from Dr. Oscar Sum at Aidencare Dental Clinic

Demystifying dental materials

As Dental Director at Aidencare in Shanghai, I frequently encounter questions from our patients about the various materials we use in dental treatments. I understand there's often confusion about terms like zirconia, ceramics, porcelain, composite, and resin.

An example includes patients asking for me to do a zirconia onlay because another dentist may have advised this. Whilst at times there is no right or wrong, my long term patients will know that I am a fan of using composite and that modern composites can offer many advantages. Big cavities can be restored with composite using the right technique.

Patients want to make informed decisions but find these terms interchangeable and puzzling. Today, I want to clarify these materials and their specific uses, helping you to better understand your options and what to expect during your treatment.

1. Zirconia

Zirconia or zirconium dioxide is a type of ceramic that has revolutionized dental prosthetics due to its robustness and excellent aesthetics. At our clinic, we often recommend zirconia for crowns and bridges, especially in areas subjected to heavy chewing. Its durability paired with the ability to mimic natural tooth color makes zirconia an exceptional choice for both functional and aesthetic needs.


- Crowns and bridges

- Dental implants

- Aesthetic restorations in visible areas

zirconia diamond moissanite comparison

The hardness of Zirconia has often been compared with that of Diamond.

2. Ceramics

The term "ceramics" encompasses a wide range of materials including zirconia and porcelain, all of which are used extensively in dentistry for their superior aesthetic qualities and strength. These materials are excellent for creating dental solutions that are not only durable but also mimic the natural translucency of your teeth.


- Veneers

- Crowns

- Inlays and onlays

- Fixed bridges

ceramic materials in daily life

Ceramics have many uses in our daily life

3. Porcelain

Porcelain has been a mainstay in cosmetic dentistry for many years. Known for its glass-like aesthetic and resistance to staining, porcelain is ideal for creating veneers and crowns that look natural.


- Veneers

- Crowns and bridges

- Cosmetic enhancements

4. Composite

Composite materials are crafted from a blend of plastic resin and ceramic filler particles. These are particularly useful for dental fillings and bonding because they can be precisely coloured and shaped to match your natural teeth. At Aidencare Dental, we frequently use composites to restore the beauty and function of teeth that have been chipped, cracked, or decayed.

I personally use composite material more than 90% of time using a combination of different composites to achieve excellent results. I would say you can achieve excellent cosmetic results using composite.


- Fillings

- Bonding for minor chips and cracks

- Cosmetic adjustments

Composite in dentistry

Composites we use in dentistry come in a small tube and are in a soft putty format before setting hard

5. Resin

In dental contexts, "resin" often refers to the foundation of composite materials or to certain types of acrylic used in dentures and other dental devices. Its versatility and ease of molding make resins invaluable in both restorative and cosmetic dentistry. At our clinic, resins are commonly used for dentures, night guards, and temporary crowns.


- Dentures

- Night guards

- Temporary crowns

- Retainers

At Aidencare, we believe in empowering our patients with knowledge about the materials and technologies we use. Understanding these options helps you participate actively in your treatment choices, ensuring that you receive care that aligns with your health needs and aesthetic expectations. If you ever have questions about the materials used in your dental treatments or wish to discuss your options further, please feel free to reach out to me, Dr. Oscar Sum, or any member of our skilled team.


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