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Post-operative instructions after dental treatment under general anaesthetic

Going home

When your child is ready to be discharged to go home, final checks will be made by the nurses. Please make sure you have some pain relief at home before your child is discharged, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, as we do not routinely provide this. The nurses will tell you when your child needs their next dose of pain medication.  You will need to make your own transport arrangements for getting home. We recommend going home by car or taxi.

At home

When at home we ask that your child rests for the next 24 hours under close adult supervision and has regular pain relief.

Will it hurt afterwards?

To stop the gums from hurting when your child wakes up the dentist has put some local anaesthesia (numbing liquid) in their gum when they were asleep. This numb feeling can make your child upset but it helps stop the gums being sore immediately after the operation. The numbing will last for a couple of hours. You will need to check your child is not biting or pulling their lip while they are numb.

After extractions, the gums are often sore, and it can feel strange to eat for a couple of days. Give your child regular pain medication (such as paracetamol) for at least 24 hours and follow the instructions on the bottle or packet. It is much better to give the medicines regularly to maintain a steady level of pain relief, rather than waiting for your child to become uncomfortable and then giving medicines to treat pain.

The next dose of paracetamol (Calpol) is due at


And then 4 to 6 hours as needed. Do not give your child more than 4 doses in 24 hours.

Dose 1: . Dose 2: . Dose 3: . Dose 4: .

The next dose of ibuprofen (Junior Nurofen) is due at


And then every 8 hours as needed with food. Do not give your child more than 3 doses in 24 hours.

Dose 1: . Dose 2: . Dose 3: .

What can my child eat?

It is important that your child gets plenty of drinks (water and milk) and nutritional food. Stick to a soft diet rich in nutrients. We recommend you plan ahead and buy soft foods before the operation, so you are well prepared. Whilst your child is numb please be careful of anything too hot. Here are some ideas:

  • Porridge or non-sugary cereals (such as Weetabix) softened with milk
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soups with bread to dip in
  • Pasta
  • Rice with mild curry
  • Mashed potato with mince
  • Soft, cooked vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and peas
  • Yoghurts

Will it bleed?

It is normal for some redness in the spit (saliva) for a couple of days. We ask to try and stop your child poking the holes with their fingers or spitting as this can cause bleeding. In most cases bleeding stops after a few minutes, especially if your child is drinking fluids and swallowing their own saliva.

If the bleeding does not stop, roll a clean dry cloth, or cotton handkerchief into a ‘sausage shape’ and place it over the bleeding socket. Ask your child to bite on it for 20 minutes. If your child cannot bite, you may need to hold it. You may have to do this a few times.

On some occasions the dentist may put a small pack in the holes where the teeth have been removed to help with bleeding whilst your child is asleep. These packs will either dissolve or fall out.

When can we start tooth brushing?

Begin cleaning teeth gently the day after the operation but be careful around the holes where the teeth have been removed.

When can my child go back to school?

We recommend staying at home the following day. Some children are happy to go back to school after that, but some may need a couple more days.

What are the common side effects of general anaesthesia?

These include a sore throat, feeling sick or vomiting, feeling dizzy and feeling confused or agitated on waking up from their operation. These side effects are common, affecting between 10 and 20 of 100 children.

More information and risks about general anaesthesia can be found on our General anaesthesia for children resource.


When should I seek medical advice?

  • If excessive bleeding occurs that does not stop with pressure
  • If your child has severe pain and pain relief is not working
  • If your child is being frequently sick and even water is causing sickness
  • If their breathing is noisy or different to normal

For advice you can contact the Post-Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU) on 0114 271 7214 or 0114 271 7252. We are open from 8am till 10pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am till 6pm on Saturday or Sunday. If you need advice out of hours you can contact Sheffield Children’s Hospital on 0114 271 7000.

Alternatively, you can contact your dentist or GP, 111 or take your child to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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