Dental tourism, the trend of traveling abroad to have costly dental implants or other dental work done cheaply, has become very popular in recent years. With the costs of care rising, changes with the Affordable Care Act and other concerns, it seems traveling to under-developed countries to undergo dental procedures is all the rage. But at what price?
Sure, saving money is important, but weigh out the risks (and the real costs) before you book that flight.
Dental Tourism is Risky Business
There’s a reason that your dentist will create a treatment plan for complex procedures over a span of several weeks. It is because your mouth needs time to rest and heal between procedures. Your teeth and gums must settle and your dentist needs to monitor your progress before jumping to the next procedure. Very commonly dental tourists are seeking a cheap solution for a very complex problem. Multiple treatments compressed into an inappropriate amount of time increase the risk of complications drastically.
The risk that these procedures could fail overseas also poses its own set of problems. Will you be able to return in an appropriate amount of time for follow-up care? Will the dentist repair the work? Too often you will find that there are no legal remedies for negligent dental care performed abroad.
The costs of travel are also very high. These include flights, accommodations, transfers and rental cars. You have to add up all the costs associated with not only the initial trip but everything involved from food to souvenirs. After treatment care, whether done abroad or not, and possible return travel fees for botched work are also important cost factors.
A Growing Concern
Many other “first-world” countries also face this growing problem. Dr. Andrea Shepperson, a leading dentist from New Zealand, is concerned for patients believing that they will receive the same standard of care from less developed countries.
“Tourism companies selling a service for which they have no expertise or accountability are putting patients at risk,” says Dr Shepperson. “It takes planning, knowledge and test-driving prototypes to know before you start that the re-engineering required will work. That requires a process of building a relationship with each patient,” she explains.
“If the work is done rapidly by those who have not taken the time to recognize the fundamental forces that have destroyed the teeth in the first instance, the reconstruction may not have a great future, potentially costing the client significantly more.”
Dr. Shepperson continues, “In many cases dentists are able to work with our patients to find ways to help them that they can afford, or design an option allowing stabilization of the situation in the short-term followed by carefully guided results over time. Those alternatives may take longer to implement, but you can be certain that they have been conducted with a long-term solution in mind.”
Please consider the risks before you start adding up the costs. A quick-fix is alluring but the potential long-term damage can be much more costly. Dr. Andrew Hall will take the time necessary to assess your own unique situation, develop a personal treatment plan and monitor your progress to allow your body to heal in its own time. Your health is the most important factor you should consider. Save the travel planning for a time when you can really enjoy it.