Help, Dentist! One grinding teeth.. one bleeding tooth

#1 has been grinding her teeth intermittently for the last 4 years. It started in her P6 year when her stress level was higher. I thought it had since disappeared. However, when a friend stayed over and slept with the girls, she mentioned that #1 grinded her teeth the whole night! My friend also has that problem and she needs to wear a mouth guard at night to prevent further wearing down of her teeth. I got worried and took #1 to see her godma who is a dentist.

In the good hands of her godma

After checking her teeth, her godma said that there was no urgent need for her to wear a mouth guard as yet as there are no signs of wearing out of her teeth. However she did ask us to check back periodically to keep an eye on it. I was relieved as I half expected her teeth to be all worn down after so many years of grinding. I asked her if it could be stopped but she said that as it was probably caused by the normal stresses of life and school, we can’t do very much about it at the moment. In future, if it carries on and starts to wear her teeth down, we could consider a mouth guard or even botox. Botox?! She said it was to relax the muscles so the grinding wouldn’t be so severe.. and the remaining could be used elsewhere too! 

However, that evening, there were more tooth problems to come. 

We had just finished our dinner and somehow, #5 tripped and fell on his face. His upper lip and one of his front tooth was bleeding. After so many kids, I have learnt not to panic when I see a lot of blood. I calmly opened his mouth to see where the bleeding was coming from. The blood was coming from the space between the gums and the tooth and there was a black spot right in the middle of the line of blood. The gums was also slightly indented so I decided that I should take him to be examined. 

As it was past 7pm, I didn’t know where to take him as most dental clinics were closed. So I called up #1’s godma again and asked her where I should take him to. She said the only place open would be the A&E of any hospital. I was not keen on that as I know we would have to end up waiting a few hours to be examined. 

I described to her what had happened and she asked me to check if the tooth was broken or chipped. It wasn’t. Then she asked me to check if it was shaky or out of alignment. (He screamed when I tried to move his tooth to check). But no, it wasn’t noticeably shaky. She explained that the black spot was just the blood clotting. We decided that it could wait till tomorrow for me to take him to his regular paediatric dentist. He showered and promptly fell asleep. 

The next morning, he woke and came downstairs as per normal. Our helper had already put out his breakfast and he sat down to eat it without any problems. I was observing him quietly but decided not to mention about his tooth. I concluded that since he could eat without any pain, he should be alright. After a couple of bites, he suddenly grimaced and said “My tooth hurts”. I asked him if the pain was just a little or a lot. He said “A little”. I examined his tooth and the bleeding had stopped and the alignment looked fine. I tried to shake it and it was not shaky, so that was a good sign. There was just a tiny trace of blood left between the tooth and the gums.

Swelling almost disappeared overnight

So off to school he went! I was instructed to look out for any darkening of the tooth just as a precaution, and that I should still take him for an x-ray as his front tooth had just grown out less than a year ago and the roots may not be very stable yet.

Sane tip: Even when there is a lot of blood, I have learnt to pause and try to figure out if they need immediate medical attention. We have had quite a few visits to the A&E over the past 15 years (fractures, allergies) and I don’t relish sitting there with a sick child for hours. I’d much rather sit it out at home in comfort and see the doctor the next morning. However, it is only with so much experience after this many kids that I can trust my instincts to know when to seek help immediately and when not to.

Save tip: I’m also extremely grateful to all our friends and relatives who are doctors or dentists whom we can turn to for help and information, saving us many unnecessary trips to the A&E!

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

5 Replies to “Help, Dentist! One grinding teeth.. one bleeding tooth”

  1. Yikes, now I'm wondering if I should do anything about Sophie's teeth grinding habit as well. She's only four years old so I can't imagine stress being the reason for it. I get goose bumps just hearing her grind her teeth in the night and am worried that she'll spoil her teeth.

  2. My eldest has been grinding (very loudly too!) for 4 years and thankfully it hasn't been worn down anymore than usual, so not to panic. Just let the dentist know at her next check up so that they can monitor it. I think it could be due to basal stress as our lives are just too fast paced. Perhaps you could do a trial for a week or a month by toning down your activities and no gadgets 2 hours prior to bedtime and instead replace with soothing down time and see if there's a difference. And if possible, reduce the amount of scoldings or anything that might cause her any form of stress. Tough, but may be worth a try as she's only 4, which is really young to start grinding. Good luck!

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