Objectives.   The purpose of this study was to monitor the effect of an interruption in a service for children who were scheduled to have dental extractions under general anaesthesia (GA). The reasons for offering GA and the treatment given while the service was not available, together with the history of the pain, antibiotic usage and alterations to the number of teeth extracted were recorded.

Methods.   When the GA extraction service stopped, the children who were scheduled to have their teeth extracted were placed on a waiting list. When the service recommenced 6 months later, the children were invited to attend a reassessment. Relevant data were collected at this visit using a proforma.

Results.   A total of 321 children had their extractions delayed. Only 249 of these attended for a reassessment. During the waiting period, 102 parents (41.0%) reported that their children required analgesics, 71 (28.5%) stated that their children's sleep was disturbed and 82 (32.9%) recorded problems with eating. One hundred and twenty-three children (49.4%) had received antibiotics, with 49 (19.6%) having been prescribed two or more courses. The majority of treatment plans (85.5%) remained unchanged.

Conclusions.   Many children who had had their extractions delayed suffered further pain and disruption to their life.