A crown replaces the entire external form of a tooth. The term “cap” is used synonymously with a crown. Whatever inner core of tooth remains, “crowning” a tooth re-establishes its natural form, as well as its function (how it contacts other teeth). Whether from tooth decay or from fracture, replacing large amounts of tooth structure is part of the crown design. Crowning teeth can also create dramatic improvements for patients whose teeth have been worn by bruxism (grinding habits) or by enamel erosion.
Like veneers, crowns are also excellent for changing tooth color and shape; in some cases, they can facilitate this change more easily. Porcelain crowns are generally necessary when more tooth structure has been lost and therefore more material is needed to replace it. Conversely, if more tooth structure needs to be lightened (because of deeper staining) and/or strengthened, a crown will serve as the restoration of choice. For back teeth that receive greater biting force, newer and stronger “all-ceramic” crowns may be a better alternative.