Like a full crown, a partial crown also serves to preserve teeth. However, this type of crown is only suitable in special cases. Whether a dentist recommends a partial crown essentially depends on how much substance the tooth has already lost.
- A partial crown – unlike a full crown – only replaces part of the visible tooth.
- Dentists use partial crowns when fillings and inlays are not the solution, but the loss of substance is too small for a full crown.
- Since partial crowns are manufactured in the dental laboratory, the doctor cannot insert them directly into the tooth during the first session, so at least two treatment appointments are necessary.
- The statutory health insurances only pay a fixed allowance for a partial crown, which covers about half the costs for the cheapest care.
What is a partial crown?
The characteristic feature of a partial crown is that it does not encircle the corresponding tooth, i.e. not around the gumline. A partial crown only covers part of the visible tooth. This is the main difference to the full crown, which completely replaces the natural tooth crown . As a result, the healthy tooth substance is largely retained with a partial crown. However, they also have one thing in common: In both cases, the crown is manufactured in a dental laboratory. Depending on the size of the crown, doctors differentiate between half and three-quarter crowns. In addition, the transitions to other inlay fillings such as inlays and onlays are fluid.
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When and how is a partial crown used?
As a rule, the doctor inserts a partial crown if the loss of tooth substance makes it impossible to provide a filling or an inlay, but the damage is still too minor for a full crown. This applies, for example, to one-sided decalcification in which the entire tooth is not affected. Even if parts of the tooth have been damaged by grinding teeth (bruxism), it is necessary to protect the tooth substance that is still present.
The course of treatment for partial crowns
First, the attending physician ensures that the tip of the root of the affected tooth is not inflamed. If there is an inflammation, he will perform a root canal treatment before inserting the partial crown. The actual therapy only starts afterwards.
First, the doctor prepares the tooth to be treated. To do this, he partially grinds it off. He then creates an exact dental impression. This serves as a template for the partial crown in the dental laboratory. Since the production of the crown usually takes one to two weeks, the doctor provides the tooth with a temporary so that the damage to the tooth is not visible during this time. The temporary restoration is usually made of plastic.
Once the crown is complete, the doctor will insert it into the tooth. Before doing this, he checks the fit of the partial crown. Only then does the doctor clean the tooth to be treated and insert the crown permanently.
What materials is a partial crown made of?
Which material is suitable for a partial crown depends on the patient’s initial situation as well as on his financial possibilities. In addition to metal and ceramic crowns, so-called galvano crowns are also used.
Partial crowns made of full metal are not only the cheapest, they also have the longest service life. Usually these are precious metal alloys with a certain amount of gold. However, the color of a metal or gold crown stands out clearly from the color of natural teeth, which is a disadvantage for most people from an aesthetic point of view. For this reason, metal crowns are mainly used in the invisible areas of the molars.
Due to their more natural appearance, most patients opt for partial crowns made of all-ceramic if one of the front teeth is affected. Ceramic has properties comparable to metal, but can be optimally adapted to the natural color of the tooth. Since the material is sufficiently hard, all-ceramic partial crowns can also be used for the rear teeth.
A galvano crown is a metal frame coated with ceramic. The inner surface of the crown consists of a thin layer of fine gold. A galvano crown thus combines the higher aesthetics of ceramic crowns with the durability of full metal crowns.
Durability: What is the service life of partial crowns?
Since many factors have an influence on the durability of a partial crown, it is not possible to make a general statement on this. The service life of a partial crown depends, among other things, on the following:
- processing by the dental laboratory
- the incorporation by the dentist
- the patient’s oral hygiene
However, as a rough guide, many dentists give a period of 10 to 15 years.
What are the advantages of a partial crown?
Essentially, partial crowns have two advantages over full crowns: On the one hand, a crown that only partially covers the tooth enables gentle preparation in which a comparatively large amount of the natural tooth substance is preserved. On the other hand, the material costs are significantly lower than for a full crown.
Who pays for a partial crown?
The statutory health insurance only pays a fixed allowance for a partial crown. However, the amount usually only covers around 50 percent of the costs, even with very inexpensive dental care. As a result, the patient’s own contribution – depending on the size of the crown and the material used – is between 200 and 700 euros. To cover these remaining costs, it may be worth taking out additional dental insurance .