19 Sep The Risks of Dental Tourism
Dental Tourism. It’s a “No” From Bridgeways Dental in Southampton.
A surprising number of patients have mentioned to me that they or their friends or family members have considered or are considering going abroad for dental treatment. The unstoppable rise of the celebrity culture fuelled by structured reality TV programmes and social media has encouraged many to seek changes to their appearance in view of “beauty” or the current cultural and social norms. Everyone wants a “Hollywood Smile” in an instant. And why not get some beach selfies to post online at the same time?
There are some fantastic clinicians all over the globe, George and I regularly attend lectures and conferences with world-class dentists and technicians from many nations exhibiting awe-inspiring cases and techniques. However, this quality of treatment does come at a cost, and dentistry along with many other things is unfortunately often a case of “you get what you pay for”.
There are some problems that are often encountered with seeking dental treatment abroad, and you must think about these very carefully before you decide to proceed.
- Training and regulations are of a very high standard in the UK. Dentists are regulated by the General Dental Council, have high subscription rates for malpractice and indemnity insurance, and clinics are inspected by the CQC to ensure the highest possible standards of care are delivered at all times.
- It may be an obvious one, but do you really understand what treatment you are having done? The whole treatment from first consultation to final review is often fitted into a few visits, have you had time to ask the questions you need to find out if the treatment is right for you and reflect before committing to treatment? Are there any language barriers which may have introduced confusion? In the UK, strict protocols must be followed for adequate and ongoing consent, our patients are the core of our practice so we work with them to make the right decisions for them as individuals, there are no cookie-cutter treatment plans.
- You may think that you have minimal veneers, but instead have been given full coverage crowns, or the plan has changed at the last minute. You may be told that crowns are “stronger” which is not necessarily true. It is very common to see heavy handed or aggressive “over-prepared” teeth, where too much tooth has been removed leaving little stumps underneath. This is even more so the case if teeth are being “straightened” with the treatment, where ideally orthodontics would be used. Over-prepared teeth can lead to sensitivity, or even pulpitis of the nerve. It is not uncommon for teeth to need root canal treatment in the future to resolve this, or even worse, for teeth to have root canal treatments and even posts inside the teeth placed prior to the crowns to prevent future problems from arising. Whether all this treatment is actually necessary is a question you may not have the answer to.
- It is also very common to see gum health deteriorate following dental work carried out quickly, possibly without the care and dedication to adequate preparation that we always ensure. You may need to see a hygienist for gum treatment to improve the stability of your gum health before any cosmetic work can be undertaken, this can take a number of visits over several months. If the shape of the restorations fitted is too bulky, or squashes the gums, it can lead to chronic inflammation and persistent bleeding or food trapping, which is only resolvable by removing the restorations.
- Are you aware of the long-term implications of your treatment? Your new smile may look fabulous now, but what about in the future when it needs replacing. What is the condition of your teeth underneath? If you have gum or nerve issues arising from previous dental work, and if your teeth have been very heavily prepared, it may cost 3-4 x as much for remedial work to be completed in the UK.
- Where is the cost saving coming from? The majority of treatments people seek abroad involve veneers and crowns. The fees that you pay are for the skill of both your clinician, and also the ceramist who makes your crown. The very best ceramists both here in the UK and abroad actually charge a lot for their services. If you are paying £200-£300 per unit, there has to be some compromise somewhere. This means that corners will be cut somewhere, either with the skill of the technician, the time they spend preparing your teeth, or the skill or material used by the ceramist. It is even possible that your crowns will be sent to China to be made in bulk factories, with little trace-ability of what they are made of, and in what conditions.
- Continuity of care. With differing languages and treatments, your general dentist in the UK may not know what has been carried out to make your new smile, or understand why it has been done. Transferring and translating foreign notes may also be of little use. If you have any issues, who will look after you? Is the foreign clinic happy to see you for review appointments and reparative treatment, and are you happy to make the journey there possibly a number of times if it is needed?
Of course, you make your own decisions about your treatment. We are here to help you to make your choices, with the right information, for the right treatment at the right time. Dental treatment at Bridgeways Dental is more affordable than you may have thought, as we are constantly reviewing our prices and services and always pass any savings we can on to you.
Please contact us at 023 8086 8833 if you have any questions, we look forward to helping you.