Dental treatment abroad comes with certain risks which you must be aware of.

The NHS is a wonderful system to provide cheap dental care to the masses in the UK. However, its function is to provide healthy teeth and no more. So, when the NHS can’t help you then you have to turn to the private sector. Procedures such as smile makeovers, cosmetic treatment and implants aren’t covered by the NHS and this work out quite pricey with a cosmetic dentist at home.

So I get it,  a week in Eastern Europe, pick up from the airport, nice hotel and a bit of sunshine while you get your pearly whites sorted seems like a great idea.

But don’t be blinded by the lights.

Here are 5 things you should seriously consider with dental treatment abroad.

1. Don’t just go off Instagram

photo of a silicone man

You’ll never guess what? Instagram isn’t all it seems.

You didn’t think those gym bros actually got ripped eating acai berries did you?

Just because someone has 50k followers it doesn’t mean they’re the best dentist to complete your dental treatment abroad. There are two things to be aware of.

Firstly, followers can be bought for peanuts with a click of a button. Social proof isn’t all that it seems. Insta is a marketing machine and you’re being sold to. If you see someone you like on Insta then do proper research on the dentist and don’t take it solely on face value.

Where did they qualify? When did they qualify? Which extra courses have they completed? Are they competent to do you treatment?

The second issue with Instagram for dental treatment abroad is who you are actually speaking to? You may think that it’s the dentist but you haven’t heard their voice. In order for you to communicate your ideal smile, they should be proficient in English, and they may be. But you need to check because if you’ve ever tried to order a meal in a restaurant abroad you’ll know you never get exactly what you want.

2. Is dental treatment abroad ethical?

I’ve seen Turkish dentists on Insta placing crowns on anything and everything with enamel.

So one day, knowing their offer would be too good to resist I once used their easily accessible Whatsapp number and sent them a photo of my own teeth to see what they could do…

No prizes for the reply.

Seriously? Although they’re mildly crowded,  I don’t have a single filling on my teeth and they’re as white as is humanly possible. That dentist wanted to destroy my teeth with crowns.

Literally.

Shave them all down and then place completely new crowns over the lot.

Twenty years ago that happened at home but times have moved on and there are much better safer ways to get fantastic cosmetic results.

3. What’s the clinic’s aftercare like?

So you’ve had your treatment completed but heaven forbid 6 months later you start getting pain from the tooth.

Unfortunate but not impossible.

Did you know if you have a crown placed there’s a 15% risk that the tooth may subsequently die? This may mean root canal treatment or extraction.

Are you covered by a guarantee if this happens? Will the practice where you had dental treatment abroad fly you back? These are questions you should ask.

4. Will the NHS fix dodgy work if it wouldn’t place it in the first place?

photo of a poorly constructed chair

If you’re going to have dental treatment abroad, I’d always get an opinion from your dentist first. They’re not here to judge you but can give you some honest advice. Your dentist will always act in your best interest and if they think you may be making a mistake it’s best to listen.

Your dentist will also be able to tell you if the treatment is available on the NHS. If it’s cosmetic the chances are it won’t be, but you never know.

If the treatment isn’t available on the NHS then it’s unlikely the NHS will fix it if it goes wrong. This leaves you with two options. Either fly back where you had your dental treatment abroad and see that dentist or pay for a private dentist to fix it in the UK.

Option two will not come cheap.

5. Find out every risk associated with your proposed treatment.

Ask.

Whenever you undergo any dental procedure the dentist should always give you a full explanation of the treatment. This includes what the procedure entails, the advantages and the potential risks and complications.

You need to fully understand what you’re letting yourself in for before you give the green light to start.

Again, this should be directly from a dentist fluent in English (unless you’re gifted with a second language) or you won’t get the full picture.

Finally

The main reason for dental treatment abroad is the reduced cost of treatment. But these expensive treatments are also usually the most complex treatments and carry the biggest risks after you return home.

If you do get dental treatment abroad please just make sure it’s crystal clear what you’re getting yourself into before you give the green light.


AUTHOR

Dr Gareth Edwards Dentist AuthorDr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) qualified as a dentist with honours and now practices in the Bournemouth and Poole region. He has a keen interest in aesthetic dentistry and orthodontics and is a certified Invisalign and Six Month Smiles provider. For more information click here.

 

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