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Some Important Info on Mouthguards   04/05/2014


Mouthguards are mandatory for players in all age grades, in all Gaelic football practice sessions and games. 

This rule has been mandatory for players in grades up to Minor since 2013 and applies to all age grades since January 1st 2014. 

KEY POINTS

• Gaelic footballers in all age grades must wear a mouthguard from January 1st 2014
• It is the responsibility of each individual player to use a mouthguard
• A properly fitted mouthguard is the best available protective device for reducing the incidence and severity of sports-related dental injuries
• Players can be sent-off in a game for not wearing a mouthguard
• Players will not be covered under the GAA player injury scheme if they don’t comply with the mouthguard rule
• No Mouthguard? No Game! 
 
WHICH TYPE OF MOUTHGUARD SHOULD I PURCHASE?

The decision on which type of mouthguard a player should obtain is a matter of personal preference. There is no doubt that custom-fitted mouthguards offer the best fit and protection but they are the most expensive option also. The ‘stock’ and ‘boil and bite’ options will suffice for compliance with the rules, but only if the product carries the CE mark. It is essential that a player feels that his mouthguard is properly fitted. Should a player feel that this is not the case; we would strongly advise that dental practitioners are consulted with.

In terms of underage players, it should be borne in mind that teeth and mouths are still developing up until about 12 years of age and young players may grow out of custom-fitted mouthguards over a period time. However, dental practitioners are ultimately in the best position to give advice to individuals in this context.
 
HYGIENE ADVICE

• Mouthguards can be rinsed with cold water or with a mouth rinse before and after each use and /or cleaned with toothpaste and a toothbrush
• Occasionally clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly
• Place the mouthguard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it, this permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage
• Protect the mouthguard from high temperatures - such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight to minimize distorting its shape
• Occasionally check the mouthguard for general wear, if you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it
• Bring the mouthguard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have your dentist exam it
 
ROLE OF THE REFEREE

If a player refuses to comply with a Referee’s instruction to wear a mouthguard, he will incur the penalty as outlined in (Rule 6.2, Rules of Foul Play, The Playing Rules of Football, Official Guide, Part 2, 2012) ‘Caution the offender; order off if he persists’.
 
ROLE OF THE PLAYER

In all Football Games and Practice Football Sessions, it shall be mandatory for, and the responsibility of, each individual player to use a mouthguard.
 
ROLE OF THE CLUB

Clubs should ensure that their players, player’s parents/guardians, coaches and team mentors are made aware of the mouthguard rules.
 
INJURY PREVENTION

Research figures indicate that Ireland has one of the highest rates of sport-related oral injuries in the EU, with one third of all adult dental injuries being sports-related. In many sports such as rugby and hockey the wearing of mouthguards, also known as ‘mouth guards’ or ‘gum shields’ is the norm with nearly all clubs adhering strictly to a 'no gumshield - no game' rule.  

Studies have also shown that the overall injury risk is close to twice as high when a mouthguard is not worn, relative to when a mouthguard is used during athletic activity. Mr. Cliff Beirne, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at the Sports Surgery Clinic Dublin, has predicted that the introduction of this rule will reduce the number of facial injuries suffered by 80 per cent and dental injuries by 60 per cent in Gaelic games. 

The GAA’s Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee has acknowledged that the use of a properly fitted mouthguard is the best available protective device for reducing the incidence and severity of sports-related dental injuries and was centrally involved in ensuring the introduction of compulsory mouthguards in Gaelic football.
 
LIMITATION OF LEGAL LIABILITY

These Rules shall not impose on any Referee, Linesman, Umpire, Sideline Official, Team Official or Unit any legal duty of care or legal responsibility (which duty shall remain with individual Players, and if relevant, Parents, Guardians or other persons legally responsible for them).
 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. When does the new rule come into effect?
A. Since January 1st 2013, players playing in grades up to and including minor have been required to wear a mouthguard in Gaelic football games and practice sessions. From January 1st, 2014 players in all grades will be required to wear a mouthguard in Gaelic football games and practice sessions.

2. What will happen if I am not wearing a mouthguard in a game?
A. If a player refuses to comply with a Referee’s instruction to wear a mouthguard, he will initially be cautioned by the Referee and if the player continues to refuse, the Referee can send him off.

3. Who is responsible for ensuring mouthguards are worn at training or practice sessions?
A. It is the responsibility of each individual player to use a mouthguard. Clubs and players should note that players will not be covered under the GAA Player Injury Scheme if they are not wearing a mouthguard.

4. Do players have to wear a mouthguard in Hurling games?
A. No. The rule only applies to Gaelic football; however, wearing a mouthguard whilst playing Hurling does reduce the risk of dental injury.

5. Our Club has a nursery, are children in these juvenile age groups exempt from wearing a mouthguard?
A. No. The Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee advise that children should begin wearing a mouthguard at whatever age they start playing. Young mouths need protecting too and if players start wearing mouthguards at a young age this will add greatly to the development of a culture of wearing mouthguards in Gaelic football.

6. Does this rule apply to Ladies Football?
The Ladies Gaelic Football Association has announced that from January 1st 2014, all underage players must wear a mouthguard whilst playing Ladies Gaelic Football.

7. Does the new rule regarding the wearing of mouthguards apply to games in Primary Schools?
A. If an official GAA coach is coaching Gaelic Football in primary schools then children must wear a mouthguard to participate in a practice session or game.

8. Do children have to wear mouthguards for PE sessions?
In terms of PE lessons, the GAA has no control over what activities or games teachers choose to deliver during PE time. However, we would advise that wearing mouthguards for Gaelic games will significantly reduce the risk of sustaining dental injuries.

9. Does the new rule regarding the wearing of mouthguards apply to Cumann na mBuncsol Football practice sessions and games?
A. Cumann na mBunscol Náisiúnta are subject to the General Rules of the Association, it is a matter for each School to ensure that the rule is adhered to by their pupils in practice sessions and football games.

10. Do I have to wear a mouthguard whilst playing Second Level games?
A. Yes.

11. Do I have to wear a mouthguard whilst playing Third Level games?
A. Yes.

12. Does this apply to overseas players?
A. Yes. International Units are subject to the General Rules of the Association.

13. I’m a referee; do I have to check all players’ mouths before a game to ensure compliance?
A. Referees will not be expected to individually check players before a game; however, if a referee notices that a player is not wearing a mouthguard, he should caution the player and if the player still refuses to wear one, he should be sent off.

14. I currently wear orthodontic braces, what are my options?
A. It has been noted that children wearing orthodontic braces and wishing to play Gaelic football will be particularly concerned about the rule change; however, the GAA recommends that these players seek advice from a range of dental practitioners on the most appropriate solution for them.

15. Is there an official GAA/GPA mouthguard?
A. Yes, there is a full range of official OPRO GAA/GPA mouthguards available in bronze, silver, gold, platinum, junior and custom-fitted ranges. Official OPRO GAA/GPA ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards are available for purchasing through the following retailers: SuperValu, Centra, Lifestyle Sports, Elvery Sports, O’Neills and Heatons. Custom-fitted mouthguards are available through a network of dentists nationwide.
 
MORE INFORMATION

Medical and Player Welfare – email: playerwelfare@gaa.ie
GAA/GPA Mouthguards – email: barry.cahill@gaa.ie




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