Bullying is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in schools all over the world. And, sadly, a long term study that tracked 383 students over a 10-year period found that children exposed to chronic bullying fared worse, academically, than their counterparts. There is no doubt that bullying has a long-lasting effect on a child's self-esteem, and as a parent, it is your duty to do everything in your power to ensure your child does not become a victim of chronic bullying.
A 2013 study conducted in Amman, Jordan, found that teeth were the most commonly targeted feature by bullies, with missing teeth, gaps, discolouration and prominent central incisors the most frequently picked on. If your child has become a victim of bullying in school due to the condition of their teeth, not only should you discuss the issue with your child's teachers, but you should also consider cosmetic dentistry to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Here are several cosmetic treatments for the most commonly targeted dental issues at school.
Teeth Whitening for Discoloured Teeth
According to the Annual Bullying Survey of 2015, in the UK, 48 percent of bullied students wanted teeth whitening. Tooth discoloration can occur for a number of reasons, from commonly eaten foods such as pasta sauce, or even exposure to certain medications, such as tetracycline in early adolescence.
Fortunately, discoloured teeth can be whitened in several ways. If your child is currently in the middle of a school term, then in-office whitening is probably the best way to go. This form of whitening takes from 30-60 minutes and may require two visits a few days apart. You can also whiten your child's teeth with custom made or over-the-counter whitening trays during the summer holidays.
A Removable Partial Denture
Under normal circumstances, a dental implant is the best way to replace a missing tooth. However, because the jawbones of adolescents are still developing, dentists advise that parents should wait until their child's jawbone is fully developed before replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant. Otherwise, the implant may interfere with bone development.
Another option is a removable partial denture. Although, dentures, also known as false teeth, may seem better suited to someone much older, they are actually a discreet and temporary way of replacing a lost tooth until your child's jawbone is ready to accommodate an implant.
Because the false tooth appears to be natural, other children won't be able to tell the difference, and the bullying should stop.
Veneers or Composite Bonding for Gappy Smiles
If your child's smile zone suffers from teeth that have large gaps between them, then veneers or composite bonding are the two most suitable remedies. Composite bonding is the cheaper of the two treatments and involves the dentist applying a tooth-coloured resin to teeth, which can then be shaped and polished in order to close gaps and give teeth more aesthetic appeal.
Porcelain veneers are the most expensive option available and consist of thin porcelain shells which can be fitted over teeth to either increase or decrease their size, as well as make them appear whiter.
If your child is being bullied because of their teeth or their overall appearance, cosmetic dentistry can help to put an end to the bullying. Of course, you will still need to take up the issue with your child's school to ensure that the bullying stops completely, but giving your child a more beautiful smile will go a long way toward improving their self-esteem and academic success.