Dental Tourism – Is it really a holiday?

Author: Dr Aushi Patel

Australian Passport with International boarding pass

Dental Tourism is fast gaining popularity, and why wouldn’t it?  The idea of saving money on dental work while on holiday has its appeal!  Or, could combining a holiday with your ‘less expensive’ dental treatment be too good to be true?

Typically, people who are seeking dental treatment overseas are looking to get complex and costly work done, such as implants, bridgework, root canal treatment and cosmetic dentistry. Promising Google reviews may portray a “win-win” solution but it is important to consider the “long term” cost, not only to your wallet, but also, potentially, to your dental and general health.

Here are some pitfalls worth considering before you book your ticket for a new smile and tan:

Treatment Planning

Complex dental work should be planned thoroughly. This includes a thorough assessment and examination prior to commencing any treatment. This can often be challenging if there is a limited “window” of a few weeks in order to carry out an assessment, plan the treatment and carry it out. Simply emailing a copy of your x-ray is not sufficient for a thorough assessment to be made. As the saying goes ‘failing to plan is planning to fail!”

Recovery time and follow up

Any dental work, be it minor or major, may require follow up with your dentist.  It is not uncommon (especially in complex cases) for post treatment issues, such as, sensitivity, pain or infection to occur. This should always be factored into the treatment. Issues can also arise when too much treatment is done too quickly, which is often the case when there is limited time in which to complete the dental work. Complications may not arise immediately, but present when you are back home. What then? Do you hop back on a plane to see your overseas treatment provider for review and aftercare or do you return to your local dentist?

Cross infection control

In Australia infection control in dental practices is strictly controlled by several regulatory bodies the main one being the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) – whose primary role is protection of the public. It sets out strict infection control guidelines for dentists which are continually monitored and randomly audited.  With any invasive procedure there is always a risk of infection and it is important to know how this is regulated in the country which you plan to visit. The rise of “superbugs” and antibiotic resistance is a growing concern amongst medical professionals all around the world.

Given the intimate connection between the mouth and the rest of the body remember any dental treatment may have an effect beyond the mouth.

Failure of treatment

It is impossible to guarantee long term success for any dental treatment anywhere in the world. There are so many factors to consider when considering the longevity of dental work. Dental treatment is not a “white good” offering a warranty or guarantee of long-term success.

In the unfortunate situation where the treatment is unsuccessful (within a reasonable time) the question then arises – ‘what next’? Do you go back overseas for reparative work or do you seek local treatment and incur further costs?

What materials are used

 In Australia dental materials such as ceramics, implants, filling materials and anaesthetics undergo scrupulous evaluation in order to be able to be used. Not all countries have the same high-quality requirements. We often make conscious choices regarding the food we eat , what we put on our skin, and products we clean our house with. It  is important we do this with the dental products and materials that go in our mouths and ultimately our bodies too!

 

Competency and training of the dentist

Dentists in Australia are required to work in a strictly regulated environment and must be registered. University training is to a very high standard and if their qualification is from another country they must go through a rigorous process of theoretical and practical exams to demonstrate their level of skill and knowledge. It is important to know the level of skill and training your treating dentist has.

This is not to say that overseas dental clinics are sub-standard or that your treatment will have complications.  What is important is that you do your research (especially if it is a complex treatment) and then carefully weigh up the risks.  You want your ‘dental holiday’ to be remembered for the right reasons.

For further information visit: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Older-Adults-65/Dental-Tourism

If we can help please call 02 9264 5195 or you can email Anokhi Dental.

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