Dental health and bullying

Tooth decay is a common childhood condition. Sadly, dental problems can be a sign that someone is being bullied. An example is teeth grinding. Research published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation has found that teeth grinding, which can cause tooth damage, is a common sign that someone’s being targeted by bullies because it causes so much stress in the victim. Protecting teeth against teeth grinding as well as other dental problems is an important part of dealing with bullying – and it can even empower teens who are getting bullied. Here’s what you need to know about the link between bullying and dental care.

Why Bullies Target You For Your Bad Teeth

A recent study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found that teeth are the most targeted facial feature for bullies. There’s never a good reason for bullying, especially not how someone looks. But sadly, dental problems such as yellow or broken teeth can be used by bullies to verbally abuse victims. While you should never let bullies determine how you look, let’s be honest: no one wants to be their target. If you have damaged teeth that make you afraid to smile, repairing them can help you feel better about yourself and become less of a target.

Benefits Of Healthy Teeth

There are many good reasons to look after your teeth. Brushing and flossing teeth daily keeps your teeth and gums healthy, preventing problems like gum disease. It also ensures fresh breath. If you neglect dental problems, such as cracked or abscessed teeth, they can develop into sinus infections and jawbone damage, to mention only two serious complications. By keeping your teeth healthy, you, therefore, keep your body healthy too.

But having healthy teeth can also help you stand up to bullies. A recent study published in the British Dental Journal found that a whopping 19 million people feel that dental work to improve their smiles would make them feel more self-confident. This applies to teens who are being bullied. If you’re not self-confident, you’re a walking target for bullies. When you have a positive self-image, you’ll feel good about yourself and not let bullying negatively affect your self-esteem.

Smile And You’ll Be Happier

Bullying can have devastating effects on your life, which include stress and depression. Research has found that teens who are bullied are at a greater risk of mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Having a support system that makes you smile is important to prevent feelings of isolation. Taking care of yourself by having a support system, seeking help from teachers, and looking after your dental as well as general health are all important things you can do to thrive in spite of bullying.

But can you afford dental care? In the U.S., schemes like Medicaid covers dental care for individuals under the age of 21. Medicaid offers comprehensive dental benefits for children, which is mandatory in all states. In Canada, some provinces offer universal public dental coverage for teens and children. An example is Quebec. It’s, therefore, possible to get healthy teeth and gums, even if you don’t come from a wealthy family. And it’s worth it. Looking after your teeth is an act of self-love. Bullies make their victims feel useless, and sadly they’re often successful. Research published in the Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has found that victims of bullying often feel shameful, stupid, and unattractive. By looking after yourself and treating yourself (and your teeth!) with love, you’ll remember that you matter.

Being bullied is often a complicated and difficult situation to be in. Self-care, such as by looking after your teeth, can be the first step in feeling more empowered against bullies and regaining control of your life.

Article written by Jackie Edwards