OBJECTIVES: Fracture strength measured in vitro indicates that most all-ceramic crowns should be able to withstand mastication forces. Nevertheless, fractures are one of the major clinical problems with all-ceramic restorations. Furthermore, the fracture mode of all-ceramic crowns observed in clinical use differs from that found in conventional fracture strength tests. The aim of the present study was to develop and investigate a method that simulates clinical fracture behavior in vitro.
METHODS: 30 crowns with alumina cores were made to fit a cylindrical model with a molar-like preparation design. These crowns were randomly allocated to 3 tests groups (n=10). The crowns in group 1 were cemented to abutment models of epoxy and subsequently fractured by occlusal loading without contact damage. The crowns in group 2 were fractured by cementation with expanding cement. The crowns in group 3 were cemented on an abutment model of epoxy split almost in two and fractured by increasing the diameter of the model in the bucco-lingual direction. The fractured crowns were analyzed by fractographic methods and compared to a reference group of 10 crowns fractured in clinical use.
RESULTS: The fracture modes of all the in vitro crowns were similar to clinical fracture modes. The fracture modes in group 1 were most closely matched to the clinical fractures. These crowns also fractured at clinically relevant loads.
CONCLUSION: Laboratory tests that induce a distortion of the abutment model during occlusal loading without occlusal contact damage can simulate clinical fractures of all-ceramic crowns.

Clinically relevant fracture testing of all-ceramic crowns
Øilo M, Kvam K, Tibballs JE, Gjerdet NR.
Dent Mater. 2013 Aug; 29(8):815-23. doi: 10.1016/j.dental.2013.04.026