What is Dental Tourism?
Regardless of the healthcare in different countries, basic costs and dental insurances are often capped, implants not covered, cosmetic procedures generally not considered essential for health reasons, and so patients wishing to access this type of treatment have to …
do so privately. The cost of cosmetic procedures can quickly mount up, with treatments such as veneers or implants potentially costing thousands.
Dental care costs in Canada are growing greatly, to the point where unless you have insurance, extensive care may be unavailable. Even with insurance, the insurance companies will go to great lengths to disallow services to increase their own profitability. This is true in the UK and the US.
This is one of the reasons why 144,000 people travelled abroad for healthcare in 2016 (a 198% rise from 2014) in the UK alone, which includes ‘dental tourism’ travelling to have cosmetic dental procedures carried out, usually in eastern European countries for the UK and Mexico for Canada and the US.
As costs increase, so does dental tourism’. The combined costs of flights, hotels and the dental procedure abroad is often significantly cheaper than getting the procedure done privately in that country, so it’s no surprise that this option is tempting to some people.
However, there are other considerations for dental treatment in other countries as well as the cost of procedures, some of which are outlined in this article, to help you make an informed decision about your dental care. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with obtaining medical or dental treatment abroad, nor are there guarantees that obtaining it at home is intrinsically better.
There are differences when having dental treatment abroad.
In the UK, all dental professionals must be registered with the General Dental Council and adhere to their standards, equally so in Canada and the US where dentists are regulated.
If you are treated by a dentist abroad, there are no guarantees that the regulations, qualifications, standards or safeguards in place are of a similar level to those in the UK, Canada or US, or are even regulated at all. Therefore you must check.
Before any treatment takes place, you should have a consultation to discuss the procedure(s) and make sure it’s the right option for you. For treatment that is carried out in your country, this consultation will always be with a qualified dentist and they will ask you about your full medical history.
If you have a consultation in a clinic abroad, or a consultation in your country for treatment that will be carried out abroad, sometimes they are carried out by what is essentially a salesperson, rather than a qualified dental professional, so they may not be best placed to recommend what is best for you clinically. Ensure they are qualified.
If you are travelling abroad for dental treatment, it’s important to understand the process if your procedure(s) doesn’t go according to plan, or if you require follow-up treatment. What type of aftercare is offered by the clinic you’re using?
Is the work guaranteed for a set amount of time? Is there complaints system if you are unhappy with the results or your care?
What are the cost implications if further treatment is required, are some of the questions to ask. It is unlikely that your dentist at home (if you have one) will be interested in repairing another dentist’s work – even if it’s in the same country.
What if I’ve had dental treatment abroad that was negligent?
If you have received negligent treatment from a dental clinic abroad then making a compensation claim through a lawyer based in your own country may not be possible.
If you do travel abroad for dental treatment, you do run the risk of not having the same legal protections that you do when undergoing the same procedures in the UK, Canada or US.
Having said this, there are many reputable clinics in other countries and due to different living costs, etc. treatment abroad may make sense if you do your ‘due diligence’, but always:
Check out their credentials. look at their website. If you have friends who have been, ask them too.
Get a few testimonials and contact one or two of them.
Check on follow-up facilities and call them before booking, just too ensure they are actually there.
Check with a/your lawyer, just to see how you stand, should you wish to proceed with any resolution procedures afterwards. Most reputable clinics would not want bad press anyway.
Ensure you get a good, clinical assessment, from someone qualified, first – so that you know what the procedure is, the benefits or disadvantages of it.
If all goes well, enjoy your trip and the holiday too. Just do your due diligence first.
Author – Stephen Bray DDS