Optical properties of recycled zirconia for dental applications

J Prosthet Dent. 2024 Jun;131(6):1237.e1-1237.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.prosdent.2024.02.001. Epub 2024 Feb 28.


Statement of problem: While waste zirconia can be recycled, whether the optical properties of recycled zirconia match those of commercially available zirconia is unclear.

Purpose: The purpose of this in vitro study was to evaluate the optical properties of recycled zirconia by assessing its color, translucency, and opalescence across different thicknesses and shades.

Material and methods: Sixty specimens were prepared from 3 mol% yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia polycrystal blocks (Lava Plus; 3M ESPE) (group C); 60 other specimens were prepared from waste blocks of the same zirconia (group R). The specimens were further categorized into 4 subgroups (n=15) based on their thicknesses (1.0 mm or 1.5 mm) and shades (A1 or A3). Specimen color was measured with a spectrophotometer (Easyshade Advance 4.0; Vita ZahnFabrik). The parameters of color difference (ΔE00), translucency (TP), contrast ratio (CR), and opalescence (OP) were calculated. Grain size analysis was performed using scanning electron microscopy. Data were analyzed with analysis of variance (ANOVA) (α=.05).

Results: Significant differences in translucency and opalescence were observed between groups C and R in all specimens (P<.001). Group R exhibited a range of TP (4.89 to 11.27), CR (0.74 to 0.91), and OP (3.36 to 8.65) values. The ΔE00 values between groups C and R ranged from 13.99 to 21.31. Both thickness and shade significantly affected the ΔE00 values (P<.001). The grain size in group C was not significantly different from that in group R (F=0.364, df=1, P=.555). The TP and OP values of group R decreased with increasing thickness (P<.001).

Conclusions: Recycled zirconia was less translucent and opalescent than commercially available zirconia. The color difference between commercially available and recycled zirconia exceeded the acceptable threshold, even when using the same staining procedure. Recycled zirconia exhibited reduced translucency and opalescence with increasing thickness.

MeSH terms

  • Color*
  • Dental Materials* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Materials Testing
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Recycling*
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Surface Properties
  • Yttrium / chemistry
  • Zirconium* / chemistry


  • Zirconium
  • zirconium oxide
  • Dental Materials
  • Yttrium
  • yttria stabilized tetragonal zirconia