More Than Just Cosmetic: Dental Problems May Lead to Being Bullied


Dental problems can affect the appearance of anyone, and most certainly that of a child. A recent study suggests that the issue is more than cosmetic, however. The appearance and condition of a child's teeth can make that child a victim of bullying.

A study of nearly 100 boys and girls aged 11 and 12 found between 40-55 percent reported having experienced bullying. Of those reporting being bullied, teeth were cited more than any other feature, having been targeted 50 percent of the time. Other features targeted were weight, hair and clothes, at lower rates of 31 percent, 30 percent, and 26 percent, respectively.

The most common dental characteristics targeted were spaces between teeth, missing teeth, shape of teeth, color of teeth, and the prominence of the front teeth. In the UK, prominent upper front teeth are a common problem affecting about a quarter of 12-year old children.

Researchers believe that the bullying may be due to the increased importance of dental aesthetics in social attractiveness. They also believe that orthodontic treatment might be able to reduce the bullying.

With 40 percent of the children in the study believing that bullying negatively affected their grades, the research findings hold important implications for parents, dental professionals and future research.

The study was published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

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