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Dental Care Could Protect Your Child From Bullying

An unhappy boyBullying is a significant health problem around the world. Children affected by bullying have lower self-esteem, and are more likely to perform poorly in academics or to avoid places where they may experience bullying. An estimated 20% of children are still involved in bullying. Bullies often choose their targets based on clothes, interests, familial status, and physical characteristics. Unfortunately, poor oral health or tooth deformities can also make a child an easy target for bullying. Taking care of your child’s teeth could decrease their risk of being singled out by their peers.

Dental Details Prompt Bullying in Jordanian School Children

Researchers published a study in December 2014 that assessed the impact of bullying on school attendance and academic performance in Jordanian school children. The cross-sectional study surveyed 920 children (470 girls, 450 boys) about bullying. They found that 47% of students surveyed experienced bullying. The number one feature targeted was teeth, followed closely by both physical strength and weight.

Students were bullied most prominently for 3 dental characteristics. One characteristic was missing teeth or the existence of gaps between teeth. Tooth gaps are common among children, but may not be present later in life because children’s mouths are still growing. Students were also bullied for having oddly shaped or discolored teeth. Tooth trauma or injury often causes teeth to become discolored. The third most prominent dental feature that children were bullied for was having large front teeth on the top row.

Dental-Inspired Bullying in the U.S.

The dental characteristics that the Jordanian children reported being bullied for are not unique to their region. These characteristics are targets among children in the U.S. as well. Dental-based bullying is a big enough problem that it is reflected in shows that kids watch. Cartoons aimed at children often highlight bullying trends by trying to show characters in situations where they experience and then deal with bullying for the same characteristics that real children are bullied for.

Dental Care for Your Whole Family

Many professionals are working hard to end bullying, but the fight is far from over. You can help protect your child from becoming a target by making sure that they receive any dental care they need. Regular oral examinations can help keep their teeth healthy, and catch problems as they develop. In some cases, badly damaged teeth can be covered with crowns to not only protect the tooth underneath until the permanent tooth comes in, but also to restore the appearance of the tooth.

If your child has teeth that are out of alignment with the rest of their teeth, they may also benefit from professional orthodontic care. Adolescence is the best time for orthodontic care because your child’s mouth is still growing, and can be corrected without surgery in most cases. Permanent teeth are more difficult to straighten. Invisalign® straightens teeth and closes gaps in adults, but may not effectively treat severely crooked or displaced teeth.

Your child’s oral and mental health are important. To learn more about how oral care can protect your child from bullying, please contact Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown today.