The cost of dental work from mouth injuries in ladies’ Gaelic football was halved following the introduction of mandatory mouthguards, a new study has found.
However, new research published in the Irish Medical Journal shows that despite the obvious benefits of the 2017 rule, many women still opt not to wear them.
Between 2011 and 2019, 177 claims were made for dental injuries in the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) across all age groups. The total cost of those claims was €169,792 with a mean individual cost of €969.
These costs are covered by the LGFA Injury Fund which reimburses expenses of up to €3,000 as well as providing a weekly €200 payment for related loss of income.
The mandatory rule for wearing mouthguards was introduced for minors in 2014 and later for women in 2017.
The study, undertaken at the Centre for Injury Prevention and Performance at Dublin City University (DCU), found overall dental claim costs fell by almost 52 per cent in the three years following the introduction of the rule in the women’s game.
Adult costs fell 53.8 per cent and juvenile costs by 44 per cent.
Mouthguards are designed to disperse impact shock across a wider surface area, therefore lessening the likelihood of traumatic injury.
However, the study’s authors also noted although an injuries reduction was evident they continue to occur and account for 1.2 per cent of €14,326 in fund costs, based on anonymised spreadsheet data.
“Anecdotally, when working with Ladies Gaelic football and athletes in general, it is commonly noted that many athletes don’t wear their mouthguards in training, or wear mouthguards which they have personally modified,” the study said, recommending further research into adherence.
“As mouthguards are mandatory in all Ladies Gaelic football activities, if a player does not wear a mouthguard or wears a modified mouthguard, they are not covered by the LGFA Injury Fund.”
Another study found that of 106 children playing Gaelic games, more than 81 per cent of their mouthguards had inadequate retention, meaning they could easily be dislodged.
Dental injuries are also a factor in the men’s game with 2,677 insurance claims between 2007 and 2015, about 3 per cent of primary care injuries in a single season.