Dan1The Gaelic Players Association (GPA), which represents senior inter-county footballers and hurlers, has provided mouth guards for its footballer members since 2010. In January 2013 the Association will launch an Oral Health Programme (OHP) for members. The GPA OHP will not only provide mouth guards for footballer members, but will also set up a nationwide network of dentists specialising in sports dentistry, and provide education and awareness on:

• general dental care;
• emergency dental care; and,
• prevention of oral disease and trauma.

With mouth guards becoming mandatory in Gaelic football, starting with underage players in 2013 and all players from 2014, “it is an ideal time to ensure that players are aware of oral health issues,” says Dr John Haughey, GPA Sports Dentistry Advisor. “The GPA OHP will give us the ability to set up a register of specialists in sports dentistry and develop a network of professionals who will be equipped to educate players on general oral health issues.”

The GPA OHP will begin by building a nationwide network of dentists. In 2013, the Programme will involve a dentist assigned to each county to provide custom-fitted gum shields to the GPA members who play football on the county panel.

On Saturday January 12, the GPA will launch the Programme with a training day for the dentist network.

“This is a unique opportunity for dentists and will provide many benefits,” added Dr Haughey. “The training day in January will involve a presentation on sports dentistry by Dr Tony Clough, Chief Dental Officer for London 2012.”

GPA Chief Executive Officer Dessie Farrell said: “The GPA is committed to shaping a better future for county players through our Career, Education, Health and Wellbeing, and Life Skills Programmes and our Benevolent Fund. The GPA Oral Health Programme represents a further commitment to the overall health and wellbeing of our members.”

Down county footballer and dentist Dan McCartan highly recommends that dentists get involved in the Programme: “Within the GAA community there is a need to improve the knowledge of the importance of good oral health. From an elite player perspective, poor oral health can have a negative effect on sporting performance. Dentists who get involved with the GPA programme will become leaders in improving the oral health of GAA players and the overall community”.

Dentists interested in getting involved, and who would like more information on the Programme, can register their interest on https://gpaforms.wufoo.eu/forms/gpa-oral-health-programme/.