According to a report published in the latest issue of the British Dental Journal (BDJ), one in eight adolescents with prominent, or irregular shaped teeth have experienced bullying, with a negative effect on their self-esteem and quality of their oral health.
The authors found that the children, aged between 10 and 14 years, were at an increased of being teased or bullied by their peers if they had certain dental features: these included maxillary overcrowding; a cleft lip, with or without a cleft palate; an overjet and a deep overbite (i.e. prominent teeth).
They also expressed concern that psychosocial factors are not considered when assessing a child’s need for orthodontic treatment; although they acknowledged that the relationship between the shape of teeth, self-esteem and bullying is a complex one.
Currently the severity and need for orthodontic treatment within the UK is judged on occlusal (bite) and aesthetic impairment without consideration of psychological factors warn the authors of the British Dental Journal report.
Commenting on the reports findings, the British Dental Associations Scientific Adviser, said: As studies show that having well-aligned teeth can influence our ability to make friends and progress in our careers, it’s not surprising that young children pick up on societies ideal of what is perceived to be attractive early on.
Because prominent or irregular shaped teeth can affect a child’s self-esteem, or make them the subject of teasing or bullying at school, its important that these factors are taken into account when referrals for orthodontic treatment are considered.