Player welfare and safety is a really important element in the GAA right now and mouthguards, or gumshields, are a piece of equipment not to be overlooked.
As the game increases in speed and physicality, a mouthguard can be the difference between a serious injury and a sizeable dental bill too!
Since 2013, the GAA introduced the rule that all players in all grades must wear a mouthguard or gumshield in both Gaelic football and Ireland – training and games.
They say that the introduction of the rule led to a drop of 37% in dental injury claims in 2013.
Players are susceptible to a variety of injuries without a mouthguard, from tooth fractures to more serious jaw and head trauma.
They also greatly lower their risk of suffering such injuries by donning a mouthguard that is properly fitted, allowing them to concentrate on giving their best effort.
And keeping that beautiful smile intact!
In this series of blogs, we’ll delve deeper into all things mouthguards in the GAA, examining various types, offering advice on how to pick the best one, and offering ideas for appropriate care and maintenance.
Read on for more.
Mouthguards in the GAA: Promoting Safety
The GAA has introduced a number of rules and regulations down through the years to help and improve safety for players.
For instance, hurling helmets were made compulsory around the same time as mouthguards too.
Hurling was a pretty bloody sport back in the day, and you can find out more about this in this blog on the History of Hurling!
The mandated use of mouthguards fosters a culture of player safety among the GAA community in addition to serving as a deterrent to potential injuries.
The GAA’s contribution to player safety goes beyond just enforcing the rules.
The group actively works with dentists, dental associations, and subject-matter specialists to spread the word and instruct players, coaches, and parents about the value of mouthguards.
Like a lot of things, the introduction got off to a slow start but now it is really encouraging to see how players and parents have really embraced the use of them.
The Benefits of using Mouthguards in the GAA
While playing Gaelic football, hurling, or camogie, wearing a mouthguard has many advantages that go beyond merely following the GAA’s regulations.
In order to protect players’ tooth health, avoid facial injuries, and improve general safety on the field, mouthguards are essential.
Let’s examine some of the main advantages of using mouthguards in GAA.
Protect your Teeth and Gums
The protective barrier that mouthguards create between the upper and lower teeth serves as a shield.
They efficiently disperse and absorb the pressures that can be generated during crashes or unintentional contact, reducing the possibility of dental injuries including broken, chipped, or knocked-out teeth.
Additionally, mouthguards aid in preventing cuts or lacerations to the gums from hits or collisions.
A survey from the Irish Dental Association found that Gaelic is the sport that causes the most dental injuries for children, ahead of hurling and rugby.
Reduced Risk of Jaw Injuries
Mouthguards help to avoid jaw injuries in addition to providing tooth protection.
Mouthguards lower the possibility of injuries to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or fractures of the jawbone, which can happen as a result of blows to the face by absorbing the impact pressures.
A mouthguard that is properly fitted will form a cushion zone that will absorb and distribute forces, reducing the risk of injury to the jaw region.
Less Risk of Facial Trauma
Fast-paced play, physical contact, and the use of hurleys or footballs during Gaelic activities can result in unintentional face blows.
The danger of laceration, bruising, and other soft tissue injuries is decreased thanks to the layer of protection that mouthguards offer for the lips, cheeks, and tongue.
Mouthguards serve as a cushion, absorbing and distributing impacts to lessen the severity of any facial injuries.
Potential risk of concussion
Although mouthguards primarily shield the teeth and jaws, concussion risk may also be decreased by using them.
Some studies indicate that mouthguards may help in absorbing and dissipating forces that may cause concussions, while further study is required to establish a causal link.
Even though they shouldn’t be viewed as a sure-fire technique of preventing concussions, mouthguards can help to ensure player safety when used in conjunction with other preventative measures.
More confidence leading to better performance
On the pitch, athletes’ confidence may increase if they are confident in their protection.
Players may concentrate on their performance without unnecessarily worrying or being afraid of potential injuries when they feel safer and more protected.
Their general gameplay, decision-making, and capacity to fully immerse themselves in the sport can all benefit from this improved confidence.
Importance of Properly fitted mouthguards in the GAA
A mouthguard or gumshield will only work properly if it is fitted correctly.
Admittedly, wearing one that is not fitted correctly is still better than not wearing one at all.
But for the optimum protection, comfort and effectiveness, you need it fitted snug.
A mouthguard that is properly fitted will effectively cover and shield the teeth, gums, and jaw.
This ensures a consistent level of protection throughout the whole game or practice session and reduces the chance that the mouthguard may come off during play.
This snug fit aids in evenly distributing and absorbing impact forces, lowering the risk of soft tissue trauma, jaw fractures, and dental injuries.
Comfort and Breathability
The comfort of the player depends on the mouthguard’s fit.
Uncomfortable, bulky mouthguards that restrict speech or breathing might cause distractions and worse than expected performance on the field.
On the other hand, a mouthguard that is properly fitted feels more comfortable and enables athletes to concentrate on their game without unneeded discomfort or interruptions.
It maintains its position firmly, enabling regular mouth movements for team members to communicate normally.
Reduced risk of mouthguard related injuries
Risks can arise from a mouthguard that doesn’t fit properly.
Too loose or bulky mouthguards run the risk of rubbing or irritating the soft tissues in the mouth, which can cause pain, ulcers, or sores.
Furthermore, if they come free during play, mouthguards might provide a choking hazard.
The risk of injury can be reduced for athletes by providing a suitable fit.
The usefulness of custom-made mouthguards over store-bought alternatives in preventing dental injuries, soft tissue injuries, and concussions is highlighted by study findings, underlining the significance of good fit for improved protection in rugby players.
Moulded Fitted Mouthguards
Customising mouthguards to a person’s needs is one of the benefits of having them properly fitted.
Custom-fitted mouthguards are made for each person’s mouth, taking into account things like teeth alignment, jaw structure, and bite pattern.
They are normally purchased from a dental practitioner.
Players are free to concentrate entirely on their game thanks to the greatest comfort and protection provided by this tailored fit.
Players can speak easier with these in, and the breathability is much better.
However, these are generally more expensive than a self-moulded mouthguard.
Don’t forget though, kids’ fittings may change overtime as they experience growth.
So regularly checking the fit of the mouthguard every few months is recommended.
To wrap up, mouthguards are now a huge part of the GAA.
If you don’t wear them, you face the risk of serious injury and being sent off in the match.
The benefits are huge and the evidence is all there to back it up.
We hope you enjoyed this blog and make sure to check out our selection of mouthguards below.