Children benefit from visits to the orthodontist by receiving quality care that leads to long-term dental and overall health.
But a recent study reveals kids can get much, much more by receiving orthodontic treatment when it’s needed – improved self-esteem and a decreased chance they will be victims of bullying.
In a study featured in the December edition of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, researchers found that a large number of children who reported being bullied said they were bullied because of the appearance of their teeth or face.
Bullies picked on children because of their teeth and facial features more than any other reason, the study found, more than a child’s strength or weight.
With offices in Destin and Panama City Beach, Dr. M. Scott Runnels can help children correct problem teeth and increase their self-esteem. Runnels was inspired to become an orthodontist at a young age, in part because he was self-conscious about his teeth and was afraid to smile as a child.
The study of sixth-graders, conducted in Amman, Jordan, listed four main features that bullies focused on when confronting other children. They included:
- Spaces between teeth.
- Missing teeth.
- The color or shape of teeth.
- Prominent top teeth or “buck teeth.”
The study of 920 students found that about half said they had been bullied. Teeth were found to be the top cause behind the bullying.
The study did not include children already receiving orthodontic treatment, nor did it include children who were diagnosed with congenital abnormalities.
The study was conducted to examine bullying among school-age children and its effect on school attendance and classroom performance – and to look at the role of physical and facial appearance in relation to bullying.
The head of the American Association of Orthodontists said orthodontists in the United States have long recognized the relationship between dental problems in kids and self-esteem.
”A person’s smile is very important in communication and interpersonal relations,” said Dr. Gayle Glenn, president of the AAO.
Glenn said teeth “can be an easy target for teasing or bullying. Parents will often tell us that their child is being teased about the appearance of his/her teeth.”
A dozen orthodontists from an AAO panel found that the Jordanian study could easily apply to children in the United States.
Help your child gain a healthy smile and better self-esteem, and avoid the physical and psychological perils of bullying. The AAO recommends children receive orthodontic screening by the age of 7.
Contact Dr. Runnels to help make that happen.