Delta Dental of Tenn. to donate mouthguards

To prevent some of the 300,000 sports-related concussions that occur each year in the U.S. and to protect the teeth of Tennessee's young athletes, Delta Dental of Tennessee is partnering with the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and the Nashville Predators to donate 18,750 mouthguards to youth football and hockey players across the state.

"We are increasingly hearing about serious, long-term consequences of concussions, including the potential for early Alzheimer's and dementia," said Phil Wenk, D.D.S., president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee, in a press release. "Young athletes should get in the habit of wearing a mouthguard every time they participate in sports, especially contact sports. The risk of serious injury is too great not to."

Before athletic associations required football players to wear mouthguards and helmets, injuries to the face and mouth accounted for 50% of all injuries, according to Delta Dental. Since adopting the requirement in the 1960s, the number has dropped to 0.5%. However, even in football -- a sport requiring protective gear -- only about 75% of players wear their mouthguard.

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