General anaesthetics are still frequently given to children for dental extractions and this method of treatment is most prevalent in regions such as Northern Ireland where high levels of dental disease persist in children. The aim of this study was to establish the social and dental characteristics of the children receiving general anaesthetics for dental extractions. Parents of children referred to the community dental extraction service in the Craigavon and Banbridge area of Northern Ireland completed a closed-ended questionnaire. In the sample there was a significantly lower level of maternal education than seen in the general population. There was a significantly higher level (p < 0.01) of dental anxiety seen in the sample group of children compared to the general population. For the primary dentition the corrected dmft values were higher than in the general population as was the untreated decay component while lower numbers of filled and of extracted teeth were seen. In the permanent dentition the caries experience and levels of extractions were similar to those seen in the general population while the level of untreated decay was higher and the mean number of fillings was lower. There was a similar pattern of attendance as that seen in the general child population.