Bullying among adolescents and teenagers has increased to epidemic proportions in recent years, mainly due to the advent of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, and it can leave harmful and lasting effects, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Kids may be targeted for bullying for a variety of reasons: everything from shyness to weight to socioeconomic class to physical appearance, including their teeth. A recent study in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found a significant prevalence of bullying related to students’ dental and/or facial appearance. The study of 920 children in the country of Jordan revealed that teeth were the number-one targeted physical feature for bullying, with half of the children identifying their dental appearance as the cause of the bullying. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) released a statement that a panel of 12 high-ranking AAO members reviewed and concurred with the study’s findings, and indicated that the experiences of the Jordanian children can easily translate to the experiences of American kids, as many orthodontists have treated young patients who were teased or bullied because of their teeth. The AAO believes that early orthodontic treatment on a child being bullied for his or her dental appearance can have a major beneficial psychological effect on the child.
Reprinted with permission of The Massachusetts Dental Society