Over the years, teeth have often been reported as a main feature targeted by bullies, as reported in a 2014 study—“Impact of bullying to dentofacial features on oral health-related quality of life”—published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Additionally, a OnePoll survey found seven in 10 Americans admit to feeling self-conscious about their teeth and revealed that 57% of Americans cover their mouths when they laugh due to insecurity over their teeth.
The AAO is now challenging its 19,000 member orthodontists to come together in the fight against bullying and pledge to stand for the silent—and to encourage their patients to do the same.
Pledgees commit, “From this day forward, I promise to respect those around me as well as respect myself. I am somebody, and I can make a difference. I can make another feel loved. I can be the helping hand that leads another back to the path of hope and aspiration. I will not stand silent as others try to spread hatred through my community. Instead, I pledge to lift up those victims and show them that their life matters. I will be the change, because I am somebody!”
AAO members will also participate in Unity Day on Wednesday, October 23, by wearing orange and posting a picture of their orthodontic team on social media. According to a press release from the AAO, Unity Day represents a united front in kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
“Uniting to spread the word about such an important cause is something we’re proud to do,” said Gary O. Inman, DMD, AAO president. “The AAO has members all over the country, Canada and abroad, who work with children every single day. This is a powerful way to make a difference in patients’ lives.”
The AAO and Stand for the Silent partnership falls during National Orthodontic Health Month.
“Shifting October’s focus from National Orthodontic Health Month to National Bullying Prevention Month allows both causes to broaden their reach, and, in turn, make a larger impact,” he said.
Founded in 2010, Stand for the Silent is a nonprofit that has fast become one of the leading and most effective anti-bullying organizations. They have reached more than 1,505,000 kids in nearly 1,500 schools. The mission is simple – bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes.
Stand for the Silent runs solely off donations from those who support its mission. Donations to help their campaign reach 100,000 more kids can be made via gofundme.com. And for information on sponsoring a Stand for the Silent presentation at a school near you, visit standforthesilent.org/schools/host-a-presentation.