Effect of grinding and polishing on roughness and strength of zirconia


Statement of problem

The clinical applications of high-translucency monolithic zirconia restorations have increased. Chairside and laboratory adjustments of these restorations are inevitable, which may lead to increased roughness and reduced strength. The influence of grinding and polishing on high-translucency zirconia has not been investigated.


The purpose of this in vitro study was to compare the roughness averages (Ra) of ground and polished zirconia and investigate whether roughness influenced strength after aging.

Material and methods

High-translucency zirconia disks were milled, sintered, and glazed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Specimens were randomized to 4 equal groups. Group G received only grinding; groups GPB and GPK received grinding and polishing with different polishing systems; and group C was the (unground) control group. All specimens were subjected to hydrothermal aging in an autoclave at 134°C at 200 kPa for 3 hours. Roughness average was measured using a 3-dimensional (3D) optical interferometer at baseline (Ra1), after grinding and polishing (Ra2), and after aging (Ra3). A biaxial flexural strength test was performed at a rate of 0.5 mm/min. Statistical analyses were performed using commercial software (α=.05).


Group G showed a significantly higher mean value of Ra3 (1.96 ±0.32 μm) than polished and glazed groups (P<.001), which showed no statistically significant difference among them (GPB, 1.12 ±0.31 µm; GPK, 0.88 ±0.31 µm; C: 0.87 ±0.25 μm) (P>.05). Compared with baseline, the roughness of groups G and GPB increased significantly after surface treatments and after aging, whereas aging did not significantly influence the roughness of groups GPK or C. Group G showed the lowest mean value of biaxial flexural strength (879.01 ±157.99 MPa), and the highest value was achieved by group C (962.40 ±113.84 MPa); no statistically significant differences were found among groups (P>.05). Additionally, no significant correlation was detected between the Ra and flexural strength of zirconia.


Grinding increased the roughness of zirconia restorations, whereas proper polishing resulted in smoothness comparable with glazed surfaces. The results provide no evidence that grinding and polishing affect the flexural strength of zirconia after aging.


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