The issue of quality of life has largely been neglected within oral surgical practice. A questionnaire was designed to assess the effect of third molar surgery on a number of measures of health care outcome within the first postoperative week, that appeared not to have been previously addressed. These included level of physical discomfort, oral and vocal function, patients' perception of their appearance and social interaction. Patients were asked to complete the questionnaire one day following surgery and again 7 days after surgery. For each question they recorded the answer best describing how they felt, on a 4-point scale. Twenty-nine paired returns were received, for which the results for day 1 and day 7 were summated and compared. A two sample t-test revealed a small but significant improvement in the patients' perception of their quality of life over that time period. When a subset of 11 questions relating to physical wellbeing were analysed using the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test, a significant improvement in only two of the 11 parameters (ability to masticate and perception of appearance) was found. These results show that within the first postoperative week some patients can experience a deterioration in their quality of life, that extends beyond the traditionally recognized side effects and which shows little improvement in the first postoperative week. It has been stated that patients have a right to know if their lifestyles are to be compromised by the effects of their treatment. We suggest that consideration be given to including reference at the preoperative assessment to some of these outcomes.