Braces Could be the Bullying Antidote for Your Child

dreamstime_m_7941752Kids are heading back to school soon, and that means those babies are leaving their parents’ protective nests for several hours each day.

For parents who have fears of their children being bullied, take comfort in this: orthodontic treatment might remove the target from your child’s back at school.

Teeth are the most targeted physical feature to increase a child’s chance of being bullied, according to a study published in December in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. A child’s strength and weight ranked second and third, respectively.

According to the study, the top four dental-oriented facial features targeted by bullies are:

  • Gaps between the teeth (diastema)
  • Missing teeth (this could be congenitally, or due to decay or trauma)
  • Tooth shape or color
  • Prominent upper front teeth

Almost half of the nearly 900 students who were part of the study reported being bullied. Half of the children who were targeted by bullies said they knew their teeth were the cause of the bullying. The study found no significant gender difference on this point, according to an American Association of Orthodontists press release.

“We often talk about how your smile is the first physical feature many people notice, so it stands to reason that a child’s teeth could make him or her an easy target for bullies,” says Buffalo Grove orthodontist Dr. Yan Razdolsky. “Luckily, this is a physical feature that can be improved.”

While researchers used Jordanian children for this study, a panel of orthodontists in the U.S. concurred with the findings. They believe the findings would be similar among American children, according to the AAO.

“We’ve all had young patients who have told us they get picked on because of their teeth,” Dr. Razdolsky says. “It is incredibly rewarding to treat these children and watch their confidence increase as we gradually correct the parts of their smiles that have made them self-conscious. To see a bolder personality, a child more willing to smile broadly, that is an honor.”

We recommend that children be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. Frequently no treatment is necessary at this time, and we will place your child in our monitoring program. We will schedule periodic check-ups to continue monitoring your child’s growth and identify when and if it is appropriate to begin treatment.

The purpose of this initial evaluation is to assess you child’s bite, and to determine if serious issues exist that would benefit from interceptive treatment. Sometimes addressing issues such as underbite and overjet early means we can correct the problem before your child reaches adolescence, which tends to be the age when bullying begins.

Please call our office to schedule a complimentary evaluation if your child hasn’t had an initial orthodontic evaluation, or is being bullied because of his or her teeth.