An alarming 77 percent of children in American schools admit to being bullied in one form or another. And while there are many reasons why your child could fall victim to a bully’s cruel words, a recent study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics claims having unattractive dental and/or facial features is the biggest precursor. The most commonly target facial feature? The teeth.
We see it all the time in our office. As a parent, you’ll do whatever you can to keep your child from being singled out and bullied by peers. You want your kids to have healthy amounts of self-esteem and confidence. When your daughter doesn’t like to show her teeth in school pictures because her friends make fun of her, that is heartbreaking. When your son comes home crying after a classmate calls him “Bucky” because of his overjet, you want to take measures to correct that.
This recent study conducted in Aman, Jordan that involved 920 sixth graders investigated the bullying experience, and analyzed how bullying affects school attendance and perceived academic performance. It also looked at the connection between general physical and dental/facial features, and bullying.
The results were telling. Just under half the students admitted to being bullied, and teeth were identified as the main reason. Fifty percent of the bullied students were aware their teeth were the reason they were being picked on.
The ray of light in this study comes in the knowledge that there is a solution. Orthodontic treatment can correct a variety of problems to perfect your bite and teeth alignment. Now THAT is something to smile about.
The most commonly targeted dental abnormalities by bullies include:
- Spacing between the teeth – “gap teeth”
- Missing teeth – “snaggle tooth”
- The shape or color of the teeth – Tetracycline stains, decay and/or chipped teeth
- Prominent upper front teeth – “buck teeth”
Increase Your Child’s Quality of Life with Early Treatment
Not all of these abnormalities will affect your child’s physical health, but they can have a profoundly negative psychological impact, and impair their ability to develop healthy self-esteem and communications skills that can affect the quality and course of their life.
How soon can your child be treated?
We follow the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation and suggest that your child has her first orthodontic evaluation by age 7, or earlier if you suspect a problem.
While this may seem young, an evaluation at this age doesn’t mean treatment is required. Frequently, no treatment is needed at this age, and we simply monitor your child as she grows to determine the best time for treatment.
Our goal is to use your child’s growth to our advantage when possible. By identifying serious problems early, we often can map a treatment plan that delivers the best results using the least invasive techniques. That can mean getting your child off a surgery path. Minimally invasive techniques to correcting jaw misalignment and a narrow upper palate can be used in younger children, as many of their facial bones – including their upper palate – are not yet fused. Corrections that would require breaking and resetting bone in adults can be achieved in children with orthodontic appliances that use increasing pressure to align and widen where needed.
We also don’t always address all problems at once. We may choose to widen the upper palate to provide room for adult teeth to emerge and postpone braces until there is a clear sign that alignment is needed.
Teeth play an important role in our image, affecting not only the way we perceive ourselves, but the way others perceive us. We take pride in the role we play in boosting confidence in our young patients.
Call today to schedule your child’s first evaluation and together, we can prevent bullying and help them be all they can be.