A partial coverage option is available for most broken teeth, and you should feel free to ask us if one could be an option for you.
If a tooth is severely damaged or decayed, treatment plans for a full crown may be better due to their longer life. However, alternative procedures for a partial crown would be an onlay, either made from porcelain, composite, or gold. Onlays usually involve reducing the tooth structure on the occlusal (biting) surface by about 1.5-2 mm, preparing mesial (front) and/or distal (back) proximal boxes (for additional retention), and also preparing any other surfaces that need to be replaced,
An onlay can be used to replace additional missing walls of the tooth as needed. Enough tooth structure must remain to provide adequate retention for onlays to be an option. Most onlays can be prepared so that they do tend to be less irritating to the gums around the tooth and they are called 'partial coverage' restorations.
The preparations for these restorations should be meticulously performed to insure an adequate retentive form. If the retention is not excellent, they can come out prematurely. That being said, they are a good option, in particular for those that feel that they must keep as much of their original teeth as possible.
The gold onlays work well if the tooth is not visible due to the strength and long lasting properties of the gold. Porcelain onlays, although good, are more prone to breakage and may have to be replaced, on the average, more frequently than full coverage restorations.
A partial crown is a restoration of your tooth that covers three or more, but not all, surfaces of a tooth.