Most crowns are required because a tooth has deep decay and/or a crack but a filling will not sufficiently restore the tooth. If fillings were to be placed in these teeth, the probability of future problems would increase. That is why these teeth are treated with a buildup filling and crown. The decay and/or crack is removed and replaced with the buildup, which is composed of a composite material and bonded to the tooth. The buildup and crown strengthen the tooth and return it back to its original shape and size.
When there is not enough tooth structure remaining for retention after a root canal procedure, a post buildup will be placed to strengthen the tooth. A post is a small metal "screw" that adds strength by connecting the top and bottom halves of a tooth. The post is cemented into place with a composite filling, or buildup filling. A crown is always seated when a post and/or buildup is placed.
When thinking about a buildup and post, think about a road. The cement is like the buildup and the rebar is like the post. As strong as cement is, rebar is required in some situations for extra strength.