A new study shows that there is a clear link between being bullied and the presence of 'sticking out teeth' or malocclusion.

A team of hospital-based clinicians who primarily treat children with malocclusion have conducted a UK-based study investigating the relationship between being bullied and the presence of a malocclusion, and its effect on an individual's self-esteem and 'oral health-related quality of life'. Three hundred and thirty-six adolescents aged between 10-14 years of age took part in this study which is being published in Journal of Orthodontics (2011; 38: 247–256) this month.

Key findings of the study show that: nearly 13% of adolescents aged between 10-14 years examined for orthodontic treatment had been bullied; being bullied is significantly associated with 'sticking out teeth'; these individuals have a higher need for orthodontic treatment based on an aesthetic assessment; and adolescents who are being bullied due to the presence of a malocclusion reported a negative impact on both self-esteem and oral health-related quality of life.

'It has previously been shown that children with “sticking out teeth” and “crooked teeth” are subjected to teasing related to the position and appearance of their teeth,' said Dr Andrew DiBiase, one of the consultants involved in the research. 'However, until this research was carried out the scientific evidence for this was weak and more importantly the psychological effects of this teasing and bullying related to the dental appearance has been unknown'.

The four clinicians have launched a website to disseminate the findings of the study and provide advice for both parents and adolescents who are being bullied due to the presence of a malocclusion. The clinicians are also requesting such people who have been bullied to fill in a web-based questionnaire to enable them to continue to monitor the extent of the problem.