Mouth guards 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.
• Gaelic footballers in all age grades must wear a mouth guard from January 1st 2014
• It is the responsibility of each individual player to use a mouth guard
• A properly fitted mouth guard 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 mouth guard
• Players will not be covered under the GAA player injury scheme if they don’t comply with the mouth guard rule
• No Mouth guard? No Game!
This document has been compiled to assist GAA Clubs, players, parents, coaches and referees in complying with the provisions of the rule.
WHICH TYPE OF MOUTH GUARD SHOULD I PURCHASE?
The decision on which type of mouth guard a player should obtain is a matter of personal preference. There is no doubt that custom-fitted mouth guards 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 mouth guard 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 mouth guards over a period time. However, dental practitioners are ultimately in the best position to give advice to individuals in this context.
• Mouth guards 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 mouth guard in cool, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly
• Place the mouth guard in a firm, perforated container to store or transport it, this permits air circulation and helps to prevent damage
• Protect the mouth guard from high temperatures - such as hot water, hot surfaces, or direct sunlight to minimize distorting its shape
• Occasionally check the mouth guard for general wear, if you find holes or tears in it or if it becomes loose or causes discomfort, replace it
• Bring the mouth guard 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 mouth guard, 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 mouth guard.
ROLE OF THE CLUB
Clubs should ensure that their players, player’s parents/guardians, coaches and team mentors are made aware of the mouth guard rules.
ROLE OF THE OFFICIAL GAA COACH IN SCHOOLS
If an official GAA coach is coaching Gaelic football in primary schools then children must wear a mouth guard to participate in a practice session or game.
PE LESSONS IN SCHOOLS
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 mouth guards for Gaelic games will significantly reduce the risk of sustaining dental injuries and that it would be prudent for each School to have a policy in this regard.
GAA PLAYER INJURY SCHEME
Players will not be covered under the player injury scheme if they are not wearing a mouth guard. In all Football Games and Practice Football Sessions, it shall be mandatory for, and the responsibility of, each individual player to use a mouth guard. The claim form has been updated to reflect this new requirement.
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 mouth guards, 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 mouth guard is not worn, relative to when a mouth guard 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 mouth guard 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 mouth guards 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).
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 mouth guard in Gaelic football games and practice sessions. From January 1st, 2014 players in all grades will be required to wear a mouth guard in Gaelic football games and practice sessions.
2. What will happen if I am not wearing a mouth guard in a game?
A. If a player refuses to comply with a Referee’s instruction to wear a mouth guard, 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 mouth guards are worn at training or practice sessions?
A. It is the responsibility of each individual player to use a mouth guard. Clubs and players should note that players will not be covered under the GAA Player Injury Scheme if they are not wearing a mouth guard.
4. Do players have to wear a mouth guard in Hurling games?
A. No. The rule only applies to Gaelic football; however, wearing a mouth guard 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 mouth guard?
A. No. The Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee advise that children should begin wearing a mouth guard at whatever age they start playing. Young mouths need protecting too and if players start wearing mouth guards at a young age this will add greatly to the development of a culture of wearing mouth guards 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 mouth guard whilst playing Ladies Gaelic Football.
7. Does the new rule regarding the wearing of mouth guards apply to games in Primary Schools?
A. If an official GAA coach is coaching Gaelic Football in primary schools then children must wear a mouth guard to participate in a practice session or game.
8. Do children have to wear mouth guards 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 mouth guards for Gaelic games will significantly reduce the risk of sustaining dental injuries.
9. Does the new rule regarding the wearing of mouth guards 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 mouth guard whilst playing Second Level games?
11. Do I have to wear a mouth guard whilst playing Third Level games?
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 mouth guard, 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 mouth guard?
A. Yes, there is a full range of official OPRO GAA/GPA mouth guards available in bronze, silver, gold, platinum, junior and custom-fitted ranges. Official OPRO GAA/GPA ‘boil and bite’ mouth guards are available for purchasing through the following retailers: SuperValu, Centra, Lifestyle Sports, Elvery Sports, O’Neills and Heatons. Custom-fitted mouth guards are available through a network of dentists nationwide - http://www.gaa.ie/tickets-and-merchandise/merchandise/mouth guards/
- Medical and Player Welfare – E:
, T: (0) 1 865 8685
- GAA/GPA Mouth guards – Email:
Yours in Sport,
New York GAA