Dental day surgery under general anaesthetic

If you have dental treatment under general anaesthetic but do not need to stay in hospital overnight, we see you in the dental day surgery unit. This is called day case treatment.

Having a general anaesthetic means that you are asleep during surgery and do not feel any pain.

This information helps you to prepare for your dental surgery and understand what happens afterwards.


You need someone to go with you to your appointment and stay with you until the next day. 

Please arrange for a responsible adult to come with you to the hospital and take you home after your treatment. They must be able to stay with you for at least 8 hours after you leave the hospital.

If you do not have someone with you, your dental surgery might be cancelled.

Do not bring children, or anyone you need to look after, with you to the hospital. 

Eating and drinking before a general anaesthetic

Please follow these instructions before your surgery. If you do not, your surgery might be cancelled.

Morning appointment (8am) Do not eat or drink after 2am. Most people do not have anything to eat after going to bed the night before.
Afternoon appointment (12.30pm) Do not eat or drink after 7am on the morning of your surgery.

Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before your procedure. This includes sweets and chewing gum. 

You can drink plain (not fizzy) water up to 2 hours before your surgery. 

The morning of your surgery

Please do the following:


  • have a bath or shower on the morning of your surgery
  • wear loose and comfortable clothes that allow your arms to be exposed 
  • wear comfortable shoes
  • remove all make-up, nail varnish, piercings and skin lotions, so that we can check your skin colour and oxygen levels during your surgery
  • wear glasses but not contact lenses
  • pack all your medicines to bring with you
  • bring something to read or listen to while you wait


  • do not come to the hospital if you feel unwell without contacting us first
  • do not wear contact lenses to your appointment. These can damage your eyes if you leave them in during surgery
  • do not bring slippers or a dressing gown with you
  • do not bring valuables or jewellery. If you have jewellery that cannot be removed, tell us so that we can cover it with tape before surgery. The jewellery then does not interfere with our equipment
  • do not bring large bags or suitcases


Do not smoke for at least 24 hours before your dental surgery. Smoking makes your recovery after surgery slower.

If you would like help to stop smoking, please tell the dental team. The hospital has a no smoking policy and smoking is not allowed on our premises.

Find more help to quit smoking on the NHS website


Please bring all your medicines to the hospital with you. This includes prescription medicines, inhalers and any medicines that you buy from a pharmacy or shop (including alternative medicines, such as herbal remedies).

Take your usual medicines with a small sip of water on the day of your surgery, unless your doctor or nurse tells you otherwise.

Please also bring:

  • your GP’s name, address and postcode if you have moved to a new GP surgery since making your appointment
  • any mobility aids, such as a walking stick or walking frame (a zimmer frame)

At the hospital

When you arrive at the dental day surgery unit, a receptionist takes you to a room where you meet the team looking after you. 

Meeting the team

A nurse takes your blood pressure and checks your pulse. They make sure that you are ready for treatment. We give you a surgical gown to wear over your clothes.

An anaesthetist meets you to talk about the general anaesthetic. This medicine makes you sleep during the surgery and stops you feeling any pain. A member of the dental team also talks to you about your surgery.

We estimate the time of your surgery after the team have met everyone who needs surgery in that session. The team tries to keep waiting times to a minimum, but it is not always possible to know how long your wait will be. 

Giving your permission (consent)

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to have dental surgery under  general anaesthetic, we ask you to sign a consent form. This says that you agree to have the treatment and understand what it involves. 

If you would like more information about our consent process, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.

During dental day surgery

When it is time for your dental surgery, a member of staff takes you to the operating theatre. The adult that you bring with you can come in as well.

If you wear glasses, you can wear them into the operating room. However, a nurse looks after them during your surgery. The nurse returns your glasses when you are in the recovery room.

We ask you to sit on a trolley and a member of staff checks your name. We attach some equipment to you to monitor your heart, blood pressure and breathing during surgery.

The anaesthetist gives you the anaesthetic medicine by injection or through a mask. You go to sleep quickly. 

The adult that you bring with you can then go back to the waiting room. 

A team of highly trained doctors and nurses are with you. They monitor your care during the surgery and in the recovery room.

Resource number: 2273/VER4
Last reviewed: August 2021
Next review due: August 2024

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any concerns before or after your surgery, contact the dental day surgery unit.

Phone: 020 7188 7188 extension 53502

Location: 23 Floor, Tower Wing, Guy’s Hospital

Tell us as soon as possible if:

  • you have a cold or feel unwell on the day before, or the day of, your surgery
  • you think that you might be pregnant
  • you cannot come to your appointment

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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