Band together with Inline Orthodontics to Beat Bullying!

Inline Orthodontics, the only Specialist Orthodontics Practice in Stevenage, is conducting an anti-bullying campaign during UK Anti Bullying Week 2012 which runs from 19th – 23rd November and Jonathan was interviewed about it by JackFM Radio.

To mark the start of the campaign, a meeting is being held at our practice to discuss ways in which professionals in our Hertfordshire area can help young people who are being bullied.  Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland will be spearheading the start of the campaign followed by a moderated discussion with BeatBullying’s Director of Social Action and key members of the local community including head teachers, councillors, sports club leaders, family dentists and concerned parents who have been invited to participate.  We will hear from twelve year old Sarah from Stevenage who has been bullied because of the appearance of her teeth and received a Citizenship Certificate from her school for helping a fellow student with his brace. Happily, Sarah just finished her orthodontic treatment with fixed braces and is now smiling from ear to ear!


Inline Orthodontics was inspired to participate in Anti-Bullying Week after UK research, published in the Journal of Orthodontics in December 2011, demonstrated a clear link between being bullied and malocclusion or ‘sticking out teeth’ and found that nearly 13{c9e965edeefe98bdfaa5b8657e0326bf7e146db5f8bf1e6d7e910369b54ae816} of adolescents aged between 10-14 years old examined for orthodontic treatment had been bullied. Participants reported a negative impact on both their self-esteem and quality of life. Our practice’s experience is that many young people seek orthodontic treatment to improve their confidence or after having been bullied at school about their dental appearance.  We intend to produce an action plan based on the findings of the meeting.


Jonathan Alexander-Abt, Principal Orthodontist at Inline Orthodontics commented “Bullying for whatever reason is deplorable and should never be tolerated. This research shows that a significant number of children are being bullied because of the position and appearance of their teeth. As a Specialist Orthodontist I feel that it is important to raise awareness of this and reassure young people that there is something we can do to help them.  If parents have concerns about their child’s dental appearance, in the first instance they should speak with their family dentist to see what can be done to help. Every child in the UK is entitled to a free assessment to see if they are suitable for orthodontic treatment on the NHS.”


Inline Orthodontics will be giving out a

BeatBullying’s 2012 ‘Making Bullying Unacceptable!’ wristband

to every patient who visits the practice in November!






When I see a child for the first time, I can tell immediately, without even asking, if they suck their thumb or fingers. This is because of the tell-tale signs: protruding upper incisors and a large gap, or open-bite, that has been created by the thumb or finger forcing the upper and lower front teeth apart.

By the time they get to see an orthodontist, usually from the age 8 upwards, most parents will have tried the home remedies like sticky plasters or painting a bitter taste on to the offending thumb/finger. Where these haven’t worked, the next thing I recommend is ThumbguardTM. When parents have bought and used this excellent device as instructed by the manufacturer, the vast majority report that it has cured their child of the habit. This is good news as the teeth and jaws can now recover and resume developing normally. It takes about 4-6 months for the front teeth to straighten and for the open bite to close.


In a tiny minority of patients, ThumbguardTM does not seem to do the trick. This is when we then suggest that we fit a “Bluegrass Appliance” (presumably named after an orthodontist named Bluegrass although a Google search did not make me any wiser. Please email us if you find out!). The appliance consists of a plastic roller connected to supporting bands or rings which are fastened to the upper back teeth. The roller fits behind the child’s upper front teeth and is barely visible in normal view.

Once the “Bluegrass” is cemented, there is nothing to adjust and no moving or removable parts. The roller prevents the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth and on the roof of the mouth, turning a pleasant experience into an unpleasant one. With no satisfaction, the child has no incentive to continue. The brace is left on for only as long as it takes to stop the habit.

Finally, a word of caution about thumb-sucking habits and orthodontic treatment with train tracks…if your child is about to have train tracks fitted, make sure they really have stopped their thumb or finger sucking COMPLETELY. If patients continue the habit without their parent’s knowledge after train tracks have been fitted, the train tracks loosen the teeth and then the thumb/fingers push the teeth all the way forward, making them much worse!


Do What You Say and Say What You Do!

Our practice was the first orthodontics practice in the UK to achieve the ISO 9001 quality standard.  Jonathan shared the story of our journey with colleagues in the British Orthodontic Society Business Supplement in an article encapsulating the ethos of the ISO standard:  ‘Do What You Say and Say What You Do!’

 Click here  to read the whole article!