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Information last updated 17 November 2022
The Women's and Children's Hospital is located on the traditional lands for the Kaurna people, and we respect their spiritual relationship with their Country. We also acknowledge that the Kaurna people are the custodians of the Adelaide region, and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

Day Surgery for Dental and Oral Surgery

If your child is having dental/oral surgery, the anaesthetist will meet you and your child beforehand to tell you about the type of anaesthetic to be used.

Preparation for Surgery

You will be sent information regarding appropriate fasting requirements to prepare your child for their surgery specific to their planned admission and surgery time. Appropriate fasting is important to ensure your child’s safety during their anaesthetic. If you have any questions, please call the department on (08) 8161 7379.

On the day of surgery you will be asked to attend a place called DOSA – “Day of Surgery Admissions”. In DOSA your child will be admitted by the administration team and seen by our nursing, surgical and anaesthetic teams.

  • A nurse will weigh your child and take their temperature, pulse and respiration rate.
  • They will also check what time your child last had something to eat or drink and if they have any allergies or special health needs. The nurse will then provide a theatre gown for your child to change into and give any pre-medication that may be ordered, before going to the Holding Bay in the Theatre Complex.
  • A dentist caring for your child will explain in the planned dental procedures in detail and you can ask any questions you may have. If you have not already signed a consent form for the surgery the doctor will do this with you.
  • The anaesthetist will explain what happens when your child has a general anaesthetic. You are welcome to ask any questions about the effects and the type of anaesthetic your child will have. You will also sign a consent for your child to be anaesthetised.
  • The anaesthetist may order a pre-medication for your child before going to surgery. This medicine is usually a medicine for pain relief, sedation or both.

After Surgery

Once your child has had their operation they will spend a short time in recovery until it is safe for them to return to you on the ward. Most of the dental patients return to a ward called Day Surgery where they remain with you for approximately 1-2 hours until they have recovered appropriately for discharge home. Occasionally patients are required to stay overnight following dental or oral surgery.

Some children may be distressed and upset on return from theatre. This can be normal after an anaesthetic and they should settle after a short time. Please be assured, you child will be given pain relief during their surgery and should be comfortable on return from theatre. A nurse will monitor your child closely after the operation and this includes pain assessment.

There may be a small amount of blood present in the mouth / saliva immediately after the operation. Local anaesthetic is used commonly in procedure, causing a numb sensation around your child’s mouth. Help your child to ensure they do not bite / chew their lip, cheek or tongue whilst they still have the numbness.

Your child can commence a light diet as soon as they are fully awake on return from theatre. Babies can breast feed or bottle feed as usual. Some children may experience nausea and vomiting after surgery. Please inform your nurse if you child feels nauseous or vomits.

Discharge Care

Usually paracetamol is adequate for pain relief following dental surgery but your surgical team will discuss your child’s individual pain management recommendation with you when you attend for surgery.

Your child’s specific care at home will be explained to you by their doctor or nurse.

Food and fluids

Lukewarm fluid and soft food may be comfortable for your child to eat and drink post procedure. Avoiding sticky or hard foods is also recommended.

It is recommended that your child not eat greasy foods for approximately 24 hours as it may cause vomiting. Do not be concerned if your child vomits soon after leaving the Hospital, but if they are unable to keep fluids down and continue to vomit, please seek medical attention.

Returning to childcare, kindy, school and sport

Your child should reduce their activities during the 24 hours after the operation and be under adult supervision to help them fully recover from the anaesthetic and procedure.

Rest is recommended and most children should be able to return to school / childcare in 1 – 2 days when well. To avoid bleeding, it is recommended to avoid heavy exercise for 48 hours. Please check with the dentist before you leave the Hospital.

Wound care

Mouth Hygiene

We recommend that children return to their normal brushing habits with a soft toothbrush by the next morning after surgery (at the latest). Please assist your child to ensure that they are cleaning well around the teeth / fillings / crowns and that they do not disturb any blood clots in healing extraction sockets. Children generally do not have the same issues with ‘dry sockets’ that adults have post dental extractions, however, if they want to rinse their mouth they can do so from 24 hours after their surgery with some salty water (half teaspoon of salt in glass of warm water) 2-3 times a day.


The mouth has a very good blood supply and some bleeding following dental surgery can be quite common. If your child has a persistent ooze or bleed, please try the following to help it stop.

  • Rinse your child’s mouth with cold water (they can even have an ice block). The coolness shrinks the blood vessels and helps a new clot start.
  • Have your child in a sitting position so that their head is above their heart as this will help decrease the bleeding from the mouth.
  • With clean hands roll a piece of clean cloth (lint free) or gauze to the size of the bleeding area. Have your child bite down on this to place pressure on the bleeding area.
  • Help and encourage your child to keep their jaws closed with pressure on this area for approximately 10 minutes.

If you are still having trouble with persistent bleeding that is of concern, please call the Dental Department on (08) 8161 7379 if it is during hours, or (08) 8161 7000 after hours.

Stitches and dressings

Stitches are used to help decrease the amount of bleeding and improve the healing, especially when a number of teeth next to each other are removed or a child has a more difficult extraction. These are dissolvable and will start dissolving in 1-2 weeks.

Dressings are also sometimes used to help form a stable clot in an extraction site. These dissolve and do not need to be removed. Occasionally they come out of the socket, if that happens do not place it back in and if there is an ooze from the socket, follow the above instructions for bleeding.

Follow-up appointments

If you have any concerns once you leave the hospital, please call the Dental Department on (08) 8161 7379 if it is during hours, or (08) 8161 7000 after hours

If you are a patient of the South Australian Dental Service, they are sent a full report of the dental treatment completed under general anaesthetic at the time of the operation and we ask that they see you within approximately three months for preventative services as required.

If you are a regular patient of our Dental Department we will arrange a recall appointment for preventative services and occasionally a telehealth review in the coming days/weeks to see how your child is getting on.