When we think of tourism, we tend to imagine exploring famous attractions abroad or visiting new cities, however, there is a new kind of tourism that is taking some parts of the world by storm.
Dental tourism refers to the practice of people travelling overseas for dental procedures, particularly crowns, bridgework, implants, and veneers. In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people travelling abroad from the UK in search of cheap dental work.
Although there are no official statistics that can truly reflect the number of people who travel abroad for dental procedures, a commercial survey carried out in 2012 suggested that around 32% of medical tourism is teeth-related, and it is estimated that this has since increased.
Popular Dental Tourism Destinations
Countries such as Mexico, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland are notorious for dental tourism, however, for those people seeking cheap dental implants abroad, Hungary seems to be the most popular location.
Dental implants in Budapest are advertised online for incredibly low prices, however, this comes at a significant risk.
What are the risks?
There are always going to be risks involved when you are undergoing a medical treatment abroad, particularly a complex and high risk procedure such as having dental implants fitted.
The dental standard in the UK is set by the general dental council (GDC). It is illegal to offer consultation in the UK without being a registered dentist with the GDC and so you can be sure that dental practitioners in the UK are always of a high standard. Markets overseas are less regulated, and so there is the risk that some dental treatments abroad may be low quality procedures or come with substandard aftercare.
There are strict hygiene standards in the United Kingdom, and so the risk of infection following a dental implant procedure in the UK is relatively low. This same standard cannot be guaranteed abroad and you may be more at risk to infections such as peri-implantitis.
Peri-implantitis is caused by a bacterial infection and results in the bones that are supporting the dental implants to recede. This can cause serious long-term complications.
Language barriers can also be an issue for patients when trying to communicate with dentists abroad. Although there are instances where UK agencies have organised the trip abroad and the procedure, there are no guarantees that the dentist carrying out the dental implant surgery will speak English.
Not only can a lack of communication result in some patients returning to the UK with an incomplete set of dental implants due to feeling uneasy and stressed during the procedure, but important aspects of aftercare may not be properly communicated, which can lead to an increased risk of infection and further complications.
Other things to consider
If you are one of the many people who end up with substandard dental implants following a procedure abroad, you may need follow-up support when you return to the UK.
The problem with this can be that sometimes the issues do not present themselves for several years after surgery and it can be very difficult for dentists in the United Kingdom to treat you unless you have a full and accurate documentation of the procedure that was carried out on your trip overseas. For example, there are more than 50 different systems that can be used for dental implants, and the corresponding treatment can be different for each one.
Although the cheap price available abroad may seem appealing, it is not impossible to find affordable dentists in the UK. Plus, by having dental implants fitted in the UK, you can be sure that you will receive high quality care with guaranteed longevity.
Here at Gentle Dental Care, we have been placing dental implants for over 20 years and we offer quality dental implants at European prices with dental patient finance plans available (subject to status).