NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Delta Dental of Tennessee has partnered with Special Olympics of Tennessee to launch a statewide campaign to encourage young athletes to wear mouthguards while playing sports.
Dentists say that mouthguards help protect teeth and stabilize the jaw, minimizing the risk of injuries to the face at every age and ability level.
According to a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists, 84% of children do not wear them while playing organized sports.
To make mouthguards more accessible, Delta Dental is giving away free boil and bite mouthguards to coaches and youth sports league officials, which can be ordered for kids ages 10 who are participating in organized sports leagues in Tennessee.
More than three million teeth are knocked out each year in youth sporting events. Multiple studies have found that the highest number of dental injuries occur in basketball, where mouthguards are not required.
“I’ve always worn a mouthpiece ever since I’ve played football since little league days,” said Tennessee Titans free safety Kevin Byard. “When you talk about concussions in football, when you have a mouthpiece and you have something to bite down on when you’re making a tackle or you’re making a block, it decreases the chance of you having a concussion. It’s very important, so I would encourage everybody to wear a mouthpiece.”
The free boil and bite mouthguards come in two varieties: one with a strap that can be attached to a helmet, recommended for use in football and ice hockey, and one without the strap, ideal for sports like basketball, martial arts, and soccer.
Coaches and league commissioners need to submit a request online by April 30 for orders to arrive in time for fall sports seasons.