Preteens with unattractive teeth are likely to be bullied, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.
The study, which was conducted among sixth-grade students in Amman, Jordan, reveals a significant percentage of children experience bullying as a result of dental and/or facial appearance. Teeth were the top targeted physical feature to increase a child’s chance of being bullied, followed by the child’s strength and weight, the study showed.
A panel of top U.S. orthodontists, as well several pediatric dentists and orthodontists in Maryland, concurred with the study findings, saying it also holds true in this country. The orthodontists report they have treated many young patients who were teased and even bullied because of their teeth.
Dr. Gayle Glenn, president of the American Association of Orthodontists, reports that orthodontists have long been aware of the relationship between serious dental problems and self-esteem — no matter the age of the patient.
“A person’s smile is very important in communication and interpersonal relations,” Glenn says. “Teeth are very noticeable, so when they are unsightly or poorly aligned, this 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 or her teeth.”