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New research shows that being bullied is significantly associated with ‘sticking out teeth’.

A team of hospital-based clinicians, who primarily treat children with malaligned teeth and jaw bone deficiencies (malocclusion), have conducted a UK based study investigating the relationship between being bullied and the presence of a malocclusion.

They also looked at its effect on an individual’s self-esteem and ‘Oral Health Related Quality of Life’.

336 adolescents aged between 10-14 years of age took part in this study which is being published in the December 2011 issue of the Journal of Orthodontics.

Key findings of the study show that:

  • Nearly 13% of adolescents aged between 10-14 years examined for orthodontic treatment had been bullied. This equates to thirteen of every one hundred young people who need orthodontic treatment
  • Being bullied is significantly associated with ‘sticking out teeth’
  • These individuals have a higher need for orthodontic treatment based on an aesthetic assessment
  • Adolescents who are being bullied due to the presence of a malocclusion reported a negative impact on both self-esteem and ‘Oral Health Related Quality of Life’.

The findings of this study show for the first time that there is clear link between being bullied and the presence of ‘sticking out teeth’ (malocclusion).

More importantly, the negative impact on a child’s psychological status is reported.

It is clear that being bullied can have both short-term and long-term effects on physiological and psychological wellbeing.

The four clinicians, who include three orthodontists and a psychologist with a special interest in dentistry, have today launched a website to disseminate the findings of the study and provide advice for both parents and adolescents who are being bullied due to the presence of a malocclusion.

The clinicians are also requesting such people who have been bullied to fill in a web based questionnaire to enable them to continue to monitor the extent of the problem.

Dr Andrew DiBiase, one of the consultants involved in the research said: ‘As health care professionals, 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: ‘The treatment for malocclusion usually involves the use of braces (orthodontic treatment) in combination with other treatment to correct the problems. It has previously been shown that children with “sticking out teeth” and “crooked teeth” are subjected to teasing related to the position and appearance of their teeth.

‘Commonly, braces are prescribed in these situations to help improve the alignment of the teeth. However, until this research was carried out the scientific evidence for this was weak and more importantly the psychological effects of this teasing and bullying related to the dental appearance has been unknown.’

The consultants have requested that comments about the research are posted onto the website and are in contact with organisations concerned with child welfare and bullying in the hope that they can set up website links and pass on the information to people contacting them.

More information about orthodontic treatment, including information about where people can find orthodontic treatment in their area, is available from The British Orthodontic Society at www.bos.org.uk.

Source: dentistry.co.uk.

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