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J Prosthet Dent. 2001 Apr;85(4):363-76.

Tooth preparations for complete crowns: an art form based on scientific principles.

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  • 1School of Dentistry, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif., 92350, USA.



No recent literature has reviewed the current scientific knowledge on complete coverage tooth preparations.


This article traces the historic evolution of complete coverage tooth preparations and identifies guidelines for scientific tooth preparations.


Literature covering 250 years of clinical practice was reviewed with emphasis on scientific data acquired during the last 50 years. Both a MEDLINE search and an extensive manual search were used to locate relevant articles written in English in the last 50 years.


Teeth should be prepared so that they exhibit the following characteristics: 10 to 20 degrees of total occlusal convergence, a minimal occlusocervical dimension of 4 mm for molars and 3 mm for other teeth, and an occlusocervical-to-faciolingual dimension ratio of 0.4 or greater. Facioproximal and linguoproximal line angles should be preserved whenever possible. When the above features are missing, the teeth should be modified with auxiliary resistance features such as axial grooves or boxes, preferably on proximal surfaces. Finish line selection should be based on the type of crown/retainer, esthetic requirements, ease of formation, and personal experience. Expectations of enhanced marginal fit with certain finish lines could not be validated by recent research. Esthetic requirements and tooth conditions determine finish line locations relative to the gingiva, with a supragingival location being more acceptable. Line angles should be rounded, and a reasonable degree of surface smoothness is desired.


Nine scientific principles have been developed that ensure mechanical, biologic, and esthetic success for tooth preparation of complete coverage restorations.

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