The association is encouraging its members to join the #bullyingbites awareness campaign, and is offering a number of suggestions on how to get involved. 

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) announced that for the third year, it will observe National Bullying Prevention Month in October, coinciding with National Orthodontic Health Month. The AAO says it will continue its partnership with Stand for the Silent, an anti-bullying organization founded in 2010. 

According to the American Journal of Orthodontics-Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJO-DO), there is a significant relationship between bullying because of dentofacial features and adverse effects on oral health-related quality of life. The authors of the study published in AJO-DO concluded that the results point to the importance of addressing the bullying problem among schoolchildren and the need to provide data for educational authorities to create anti-bullying programs to help students receive education in a safe and healthy environment. 

The AAO’s awareness program, known as #bullyingbites, offers AAO members and communities a number of suggestions, starting with showing their support and wearing orange to celebrate Unity Day on October 20, 2021. In addition, AAO members and their communities can Take the Pledge! Developed by Stand for the Silent, AAO members can distribute the pledge form to patients and staff members. 

For those who are looking for philanthropic opportunities to support the campaign, the AAO suggests supporting Stand for the Silent. The anti-bullying organization provides educational assembly programs at schools nationwide, which community members may sponsor. If an orthodontist’s practice is already active in supporting nearby schools or if they would like to get involved, sponsoring an anti-bullying presentation can be a unique way to help kids in their community. 

AAO members looking for other charitable opportunities to support the #bullyingbites campaign can also serve as a volunteer or provide financial assistance to the AAO Foundation Donated Orthodontic Services program

“The AAO, both as an association and as a specialty—are stronger when we are united. That is why the AAO recognizes October as Anti-bullying Month. I hope each member takes the pledge against anti-bullying and becomes an advocate in this fight,” said Lynne Thomas Gordon, AAO CEO.