What is Dental Tourism? 

Over the past few years, dental tourism has increased dramatically. As people become more aware of how they look, the desire to improve their appearance becomes a must. The word tourism conjures up foreign holidays abroad in relaxing locations. Companies have seized on this desire to improve our image, with our love of foreign travel and combined the two. Now travelling abroad for health care doesn’t sound so boring or scary.

Why do people choose dental tourism? 

One of the main treatments advertised are dental implants. More and more people, of all ages, are wanting to have dental implants instead of dentures or bridges. The cost of having dental implants varies from practice to practice in the UK and can seem expensive compared to the cost of going abroad. The company’s offering the treatment abroad attract consumers with money-saving headlines and price comparisons with UK dental practitioners. The package offered will include travel costs and hotel stay, consultation and treatment costs. All will be advertised as much lower than UK costs and sound wonderful.

The Reality

The reality will usually involve three visits to the clinic; consultation, surgery and restoration (crown, bridge or denture placement). The length of stay can vary from an over-night stay to a couple of weeks, depending on the turnaround time for the dental lab. Then you have to consider the travelling time and whether you take someone with you. All this adds up, especially if you are having to take time off work. There will also be extra costs, that aren’t included but essential; taxi’s to and from the airport both at home and abroad. Hotel accommodation and restaurant bills. There are also loss of earnings if you work.

Other factors to consider:

Flying home after implant placement

It is not advisable to fly following dental extractions or other major dental surgery. This is because the cabin pressure can increase the risk of bleeding. If this does happen the clinic may not accept any responsibility.

What happens if things go wrong?

A UK dentist will not take over or assume responsibility for any treatment carried out abroad. More than likely further travel will be required abroad.

Will the treatment be rectified free of charge?

Not necessarily.

How do you make a claim against a foreign dentist if things go wrong?

This is extremely difficult to do and very time-consuming. UK dentists are all registered with the GDC and carry their own indemnity insurance. Any problems with treatment are much easier to resolve.

Is the clinic as strictly regulated as ones in the UK?

Every clinic or dental practice has to be registered and inspected by the CQC. They monitor standards against set criteria which have to be met.  These include infection control, health and safety and vetting the staff working there. It’s very easy to check these facts about a UK dental practice. Not so for a foreign one.

Does the clinician have the same level of insurance and training as a UK dentist?

Every dentist working in the UK has to have their own insurance. Anyone carrying out dental implant surgery must carry a higher level of insurance and be registered with the GDC as doing so.  These insurance companies are based in the UK, their policies are written based on UK law and easy to contact if things go wrong. Contacting an insurance company abroad will be time-consuming and may not result in a positive outcome.

Are the implants and restorations used of the same quality as the ones used in the UK?

There are a lot of companies making and selling copies of dental implants. As clinics are not as closely regulated, many will use copies instead of the genuine implant. Some clinics will also use dental labs based in China where the materials used are often cheaper and not quality assured.

In the end, you get what you pay for. Always buy British.