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Overseas Dentistry / Dental Tourism

Thinking of Going Overseas for Dental Work?

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With the costs of living continuing to rise, it’s no surprise many Australians have become frustrated with higher prices not only for food, accommodation and utilities, but also for health care including dentistry. As a way to escape these high prices, some people have turned to other countries for cheaper alternatives, falling into the trap of ‘bargain’ treatments, desirable exchange rates and lower product prices. Although there is no real harm in buying general everyday products or luxury items at a cheaper price whilst on holiday, these people who partake in overseas purchases, such as dental treatment, are exposed to many health care risks.

Coined “dental tourism” or “dental holidays”, this type of travelling for dental treatment is increasing in popularity. But what are the risks? Is there a reason why dental treatment is so much cheaper in other countries? And what happens when it goes wrong? At Perth Dental Implant Centre, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about overseas dental treatments and why we recommend regularly visiting your local dentist.

Dental Tourism

It’s commonplace for people to want to visit businesses that have been recommended to them by friends and family. This idea has fueled the dental tourism industry and led to many people undergoing treatment for dental implants overseas. One of the largest problems associated with visiting another country for dental work is the fact that you are indeed visiting another country. Patients who choose to partake in ‘dental tourism’ may not realise the risks associated with undergoing medical treatment in a different country as not all dentists have the same standards, dental practices and medications.

What most patients are unaware of is that the consequences of poor treatment may take many months or even years to resurface. It’s also likely that because overseas clinics are so far away, patients who may experience dental complications or require further maintenance, will not return to the same dentist for their appropriate level of care. Furthermore, many patients are reluctant to pay for additional flights, let alone for additional dental work.

Dental implants overseas also pose the issue of having a shorter treatment time. While this may seem attractive at first, patients who have limited time on holidays may have unrealistic expectations when it comes to complex treatment, often resulting in the dentist cutting corners.

Overseas treatment also runs the risks of the dentist failing to plan and examine pre-existing conditions such as gum disease. The results of this, especially with implant and complex dentistry, can be catastrophic. As such, most treatments should ideally be completed over a longer period of time, with a trusted and experienced dentist.

Be Prepared Before You Go

Our leading dentist, Dr David Norcross, believes undergoing treatment for dental implants overseas can be risky. Dental implants should only be placed in healthy mouths which is why you should see a dentist who has the experience and expertise to give appropriate advice. Careful diagnosis and planning involves the detection and treatment of any pre-existing conditions, such as gum disease. This may increase the length of time taken for treatment, however it will ensure a much more successful and longer lasting result.

Some questions you may want to ask before undergoing treatment for dental implants overseas include:

  • What is the experience of the dentist providing the treatment?
  • Is the dentist registered under a professional regulatory board and what are the board’s standards?
  • How many times has the dentist carried out the procedure?
  • What dental implant system is being used?
  • Has the whole mouth been assessed carefully and any preliminary treatment been completed?
  • If complications occur how will they be fixed and what will be the costs?
  • What are the infection control policies of the clinic?

Don’t Take the Risk

Dentistry in Australia may be more expensive than treatment overseas, however it does have many reassurances. Dentists here receive a high standard of dental education and have compulsory continued professional development. They are all registered under the Australian Dental Board who promote ethics and public health. All materials used in Australia are regulated by the Theraputic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure they are safe. In Australia, dental practices adhere to strict infection control protocols.

Download the ADA factsheet here.

Many overseas clinics offer cheap treatment because they are using cheap materials. This usually delivers poor results and as such, the implant systems they use may not be approved for use in Australia. Although dental implants overseas may seem more affordable, we cannot ignore the fact that the long-term side effects can be damaging to the patient’s overall health and wellbeing. For more information about dental tourism and its associated risks, please do not hesitate to contact us today.