Partial vs Full Coverage Crowns

When deciding between a full coverage crown and partial coverage restoration, it is critical to evaluate how healthy the patient’s tooth is. There are other factors which should be considered in the evaluation between the two types of restorations. The treatments both have unique challenges and benefits. Patients who are considering a crown restoration should work with their dentist to determine the solution which will best meet their needs.

Amount of Damage

One important factor in determining the best restoration is based on how much damage the tooth has. A full coverage or complete crown is ideal for cases where a significant amount of the tooth is damaged or compromised. This may be the result of serious decay, a fracture, or a particularly large filling. The crown will cover the entire tooth above the gumline. This gives the weakened tooth the maximum level of protection and support. Inlays and onlays, which are also called partial crowns, are commonly used to restore teeth with less damage. Inlays are placed within the tooth’s grooves and onlays extend over one or more of the tooth’s cusps.


In dentistry, the goal is to maximize the amount of natural tooth structure which can be preserved. A partial restoration might be preferred over a crown because the dentist is able to minimize the amount of healthy tooth structure which must be removed. When a crown is placed, the dentist must shape and modify the tooth to accommodate the restoration. This typically involves more substantial removal of enamel. Inlays and onlays are considered to be a more conservative approach as it involves a limited amount of natural tooth removal.


In general, a crown is stronger and more durable compared to an inlay or onlay. Because the crown completely covers the surface of the tooth, it offers exceptional support and protection. Crowns are a great solution for teeth which are weak or have significant damage. In cases where the tooth has moderate damage, the dentist will likely recommend the use of a partial crown. These restorations are able to preserve the structure of the tooth while adding strength and protection.

Aesthetic Considerations

It is important for patients to consider the location of their damaged teeth as well. Teeth which are in the front of the mouth and are visible when smiling must be a good cosmetic solution as well. Crowns are made from various materials. This includes all-ceramic options which can closely match the appearance of the natural teeth. Dental technology has made recent advancements to ensure that partial restorations can closely match the color and appearance of the natural teeth. Both restorations can achieve aesthetically pleasing results.


The functionality of the restoration is another important factor to consider when deciding between a partial or full coverage crown. Teeth located in the back of the mouth experience the extreme forces from. In this case, a crown may be the best solution to ensure it provides adequate support. Partial crowns are better suited for teeth which are exposed to more moderate chewing forces.

Lastly, it is vital to consider the patient’s preferences and budget when determining what restoration to use. Crowns are usually more expensive than a inlay or onlay. The higher cost is the result of a more complex procedure and the use of more expensive materials. The patient may also be looking for a more conservative approach in order to preserve the tooth and minimize the cost. In this case, inlays or onlays may be the ideal treatment. Patients should work with their dentist to determine which restoration will best meet their needs.

Indication for Full Coverage Crowns

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