• clinical trial;
  • all-ceramic;
  • zirconia;
  • crown;
  • chipping;
  • success rate;
  • veneering ceramic;
  • metal–ceramic


This practice-based study evaluates the clinical performance of conventionally luted metal–ceramic and zirconia molar crowns fabricated with pronounced anatomical core design and a prolonged cooling period of the veneering porcelain. Fifty-three patients were treated from 07/2008 until 07/2009 with either metal–ceramic crowns (MCC) (high-noble alloy + low-fusing porcelain) or zirconia crowns (Cercon System, DeguDent, Germany). Forty-nine patients (30 women/19 men) with 100 restorations (metal–ceramic: 48/zirconia: 52, mean observational period: 36·5 ± 6 months) participated in a clinical follow-up examination and were included in the study. Time-dependent survival (in situ criteria), success (event-free restorations) and chipping rates (defects of the veneering ceramics) were calculated according to the Kaplan–Meier method and analysed in relation to the crown fabrication technique, using a Cox regression model (P < 0·05). Three complete failures (metal–ceramic: 1, zirconia: 2) were recorded (survival rate after 3 years: metal–ceramic: 97·6%, zirconia: 95·2%). Of the metal–ceramic restorations, 90·9% remained event-free (two ceramic fractures, one endodontic treatment), whereas the success rate for the zirconia was 86·8% (two ceramic fractures, one endodontic treatment, one secondary caries). No significant differences in survival (P = 0·53), success (P = 0·49) and ceramic fracture rates (P = 0·57) were detected. The combination of a pronounced anatomical core design and a modified firing of the veneering porcelain for the fabrication of zirconia molar crowns resulted in a 3-year survival, success and chipping rate comparable to MCC.