Adolescents referred for orthodontic treatment ‘more likely to be bullied’

New research has established a link between being bullied and the presence of malocclusion (sticking out teeth).

That is the conclusion of researchers at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust who collected evidence from 336 participants aged between 10 and 14. All of the adolescents had been referred for orthodontic assessment at three UK hospitals.

The findings of the survey have been published in the December 2011 online issue of the Journal of Orthodontics. They reveal that 12.8 per cent of the people involved in the survey had suffered bullying.

Malocclusion can be treated effectively by an orthodontist who can discuss options such as Invisalign Clear Braces. But fixing the distressing impact of bullying can prove a little harder…

The latest survey also revealed that the bullied adolescents reported lower levels of:

• Social competence
• Athletic competence
• Physical appearance-related self-esteem
• General self-esteem

Dr. Andrew DiBiase was involved in the research and was saddened by the findings.

Speaking on behalf of his research colleagues, he was quoted by as saying: “We feel that it is our duty to raise awareness of this. We feel that any bullying for whatever reason is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”

He added: “Until this research was carried out, the psychological effects of the teasing and bullying related to dental appearance has been unknown.”

Mr DiBiase and his colleagues are in contact with child welfare organisations in order to help people who have suffered bullying. They have also set up a twitter address (@Bullying Ortho) in an effort to encourage people to share their experiences and help others.

No one deserves to be bullied and Childline has plenty of sound advice for school children who are unlucky enough to be subject to bullying. This advice includes:

• Sharing your worries with someone you trust – a teacher, parent or friend
• Keeping a record of your bullying
• Checking your school’s anti-bullying policy – it will tell you what your school should do about bullying

Causes of Malocclusion

It is also important to remember that malocclusion is not a child’s fault. Often genetic factors can determine the appearance of your teeth. Common habits such as thumb-sucking can influence the development of teeth in young people while teeth can become more crowded, gappy or prominent with age.

Orthodontic treatment is generally more effective when given to younger patients.

Treatment for malocclusion

The use of braces is frequently used when treating malocclusion. Orthodontists have expert knowledge of how to most safely move teeth and improve the confidence of patients who are worried about their crooked or protruding teeth.

Patients who feel self-conscious about wearing braces can discuss the option of wearing Invisalign Clear Braces – which are discreet enough to be worn without people guessing you are wearing them. These braces, unlike traditional metal braces, can also easily be removed so that patients can eat and drink whenever they need to.

The treatment time associated with wearing Invisalign Braces (prices start from £2,995 at London dentist Ethicare) is normally around 12 months.

Inman Aligner is another alternative for moving teeth and (with prices starting from £995) is a cheaper alternative to Invisalign. Inman often takes just a matter of weeks to have an effect.

Of course, some people are proud of their malocclusion – it is said that comedian Ken Dodd has his buck teeth insured for £4 million. But it is good to know that people can discuss the option of moving their teeth with their dentist.

Having more confidence about your appearance gives you more reason to smile – the best form of revenge on any ugly-minded bullies who might tease you about your appearance.

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