I had forgotten what localized, longstanding pain feels like.  I suppose I needed the reminder, but Jesus.

My only significant experience with high-octane dentistry occurred when I was 16, and had my wisdom teeth removed at the Baylor Hospital’s School of Dentistry.  If you want to know what living on the edge really means, try to imagine having your tooth sawed in two by a shaky-handed medical student who didn’t inject enough local anesthetic to deaden the operating area completely… and then, because it’s local anesthetic—as opposed to the knock-you-out kind—, picture yourself awake and alert the entire time.

Beyond that, though, it’s just been regular checkups for me. 

Two months ago, though, I noticed that cold drinks made a particular ache throb for a minute.  Cavity, I figured.  Well, it’s about time I got one.  My dentist surprised me, unpleasantly, by pointing out that the molar was cracked, and that it would need a crown—a porcelain mount on the grinded-down stub of my actual tooth.  At least I didn’t need a root canal.

So, this afternoon, I had my first major dental work since I was old enough to drink legally.  And, holy hell, did I need a drink afterward.  Oh, my time in the dentist’s chair wasn’t bad, except for the painful shots in the gums that, um, took away the possibility of later pain.  An hour ago, though, the anesthetic faded away, leaving me with a searing and constant ache that’s much worse than the occasional soreness I had when swishing ice water around in my mouth.

The Germans probably have a word for the odd experience of intentionally causing oneself a great burst of pain in order to avoid duller but more constant pain in the long run.  Does anyone know what that is?  Also, does anyone have any ideas as to why this horrible, dignity-reduced procedure is called crowning?  Because I sure as fuck don’t feel royal right now.  We’ve got to be able to create a better, more precise term.  So, I turn it to you, because I’m too sick of this to think straight—what’s a better term for a crown?

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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3 Responses to Crown

  1. LMc says:

    I think it’s called a crown because it sits on top of what remains of your tooth. But you’re right: crown is way too wrong for a name.

  2. Jay says:

    Walter – Crown may be used b/c it’s the king of pain

  3. Ernesto says:

    Maybe it’s called a crown so they can charge you more for it. I wouldn’t shell out big bucks for a beanie…I bet caps are less expensive than crowns. Sorry to hear about your tooth, QB.

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