Partial vs. Full Coverage Crowns

Partial vs. Full Coverage Crowns



There are a few different types of restorations that are used to repair broken or damaged teeth, and the best treatment option for each person will depend on multiple factors, including the condition of the tooth. In general terms, full coverage dental crowns are often used to restore significantly damaged teeth, while partial restorations like inlays and onlays can help rebuild teeth that have less structural damage or need less protection. These aren’t the only things to consider when evaluating partial and full coverage crowns, and your dentist can help you weigh your options after assessing your clinical needs and discussing your expectations and preferences with you.


While other factors are discussed, the most important thing to consider when assessing restoration options is the extent of damage to the tooth. If a majority of the tooth is damaged or otherwise compromised, a full coverage crown may be the only viable option. Because a full coverage crown covers the entire surface of the visible part of a tooth, above the gumline, they can help repair a tooth that’s extensively decayed or significantly cracked or broken, and they can also help support a weakened tooth or hold together a tooth after a large filling has been placed. When damage is localized to a smaller area of the tooth, an inlay or onlay may be sufficient to repair and stabilize the tooth. Inlays are placed into the grooves on the biting surface of a tooth, similar to a filling and often used to treat larger cavities or cavities between the tooth’s cusps. Onlays are placed over the entire biting surface of a tooth; they can treat tooth decay and can also help repair teeth when they’re worn down or eroded. Both inlays and onlays can partially restore the shape and integrity of a tooth and prevent additional damage.


The ultimate goal of any dental treatment is to preserve as much of the natural tooth structure as possible. Partial restorations like inlays and onlays may be preferable in some cases because they can be placed without significant alteration of the natural tooth, while full coverage crowns require the removal of dental tissue to accommodate the restoration. Dentists try to choose the least invasive procedure possible while weighing the implications of each treatment, taking into consideration the patient’s overall health, oral health, and lifestyle choices and the ways these factors could affect the treatment’s long-term success.


The desired aesthetic outcome can also influence decisions about treatment. Custom crowns can be made of aesthetically superior materials that very closely match the appearance of the natural teeth, though technological and material advances have helped inlays and onlays nearly catch up to crowns in terms of aesthetics, and results can be cosmetically comparable between partial and full coverage crowns. The function of the tooth that’s being restored will also influence the ultimate choice of treatment. When a tooth doesn’t sustain substantial chewing forces, an inlay or onlay might be sufficient to reinforce and preserve the tooth. When a tooth is in a more heavily used area, a dental crown might be the solution that optimally supports a tooth structure that bears such substantial force. Of course, patient preference and budgetary needs should also be taken into consideration when planning treatment; when cost is an immediate concern, more conservative approaches like inlays and onlays may be preferred.


What is a Full Coverage Crown