Although most anaesthetic textbooks cite dental injury as a complication of endotracheal intubation few studies have examined the extent and nature of the problem. Such damage however, formed the basis for one-third of all confirmed or potential anaesthetic claims notified to the Medical Protection Society between 1977 and 1986. This article seeks to explore the extent of the problem, outline predisposing factors, summarise current prophylactic measures and make recommendations to reduce the overall incidence. Increased awareness of the problem, by both anaesthetists and dental surgeons, coupled with appropriate prophylactic measures may result in a reduced incidence of dental injury arising from general anaesthesia. Given the high incidence of dental damage we recommend that all patients undergoing a surgical operation under endotracheal intubation should have a pre-operative dental check wherever possible. Clearly, the first dental examination would be conducted by an anaesthetist familiar with the predisposing factors. Where he/she considers there to be a higher than average risk of dental damage occurring during intubation a more specialised examination should be conducted by a dental surgeon. It may, where appropriate, be possible for remedial dental treatment to be carried out and customised mouth guards to be constructed prior to the operation. Obviously such recommendations have certain financial implications and would have to be subject to controlled cost-benefit analysis before their widespread application.