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Dental Treatment Abroad


Why might I seek dental treatment abroad?

As private dentistry costs have increased in the UK, more UK patients are considering looking for dentists abroad. You may sometimes make significant savings on the costs of restorative and cosmetic dental treatment by travelling to Europe, or further afield, and taking advantage of the opportunities for “dental tourism”.


What dental treatments might be offered?

The most popular treatments are dental implants, crowns and bridges and cosmetic dental treatments such as smile makeovers.


What are the advantages?

The most obvious advantage is the saving in cost, with prices often being lower than the UK for treatment and facilities which may appear as good as any available here.  


There is the added advantage of combining your dental treatment with a relaxing break in one of the many countries offering treatment.


Popular destinations include Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.


What might be the disadvantages?

There are several areas of potential concern.

Is the dentist treating me properly qualified and regulated?

For countries within the European Union, dental qualifications are required to reach a minimum approved by each country’s government and a registered dentist qualified in one country can apply to any other EU country to practice in that country. Standards are generally consistently high. Outside the EU however this is not always the case.

Are the materials used of a suitable quality?

In many countries, lower cost materials enable them to provide cheaper solutions. However, the quality of the materials may not be the same as in the UK and may not last as long. In the UK the technical support used in the manufacture of dental crowns, bridges and dental appliances is also subject to standards imposed by the General Dental Council. This is not the case abroad, and as many complex cases require significant technical support this can also be a cause for concern.

Are the timescales suitable?

It may not be realistic for complex or large scale procedures that can take months to complete in this country to be safely completed abroad in a relatively short, "holiday-sized" time period. There is some evidence that high speed large scale dental treatment more often requires remedial work.


What if something goes wrong?

If something does go wrong then there are all sorts of questions that you will need to ask yourself. For example are you willing to fly back? What are your legal rights as a foreign patient? Are you prepared to go through the courts? Do you have the money required to correct the treatment in this country?


One other important consideration is location. If you go all the way to India or Singapore or Argentina for a dental procedure, and something goes wrong, it is a long way to go to have to return and get them to fix it.


What precautions should I take?

Before travelling abroad for dental treatment you need to understand what to expect and the risks involved. Discuss your plans with your own dentist first, as they may be able to offer advice based on your dental history. They will also need to be aware of your plans in case of any later complications.


It is a good idea to do some research on the country you are planning to visit: does that country have a professional regulatory body? Is it compulsory for dental professionals to be registered with them? If there is a regulatory body, visit their website to find out about the standards they enforce, what qualifications dental professionals must have and who to contact if you have a complaint about your treatment by dentists abroad.


Rather than go to the country and find a dental clinic while you are there, utilise the internet to research and compare clinic and dentist credentials, prices etc. in advance. 


At your initial consultation, ask as many questions as possible. Can you see testimonials or speak to previous patients? Who will be carrying out your treatment and what qualifications and experience do they have? Do they offer guarantees? If there are problems, who pays for extra visits and treatments to put things right?


You should always be assessed by a qualified dentist before being given a treatment plan and cost estimate.


The UK Regulatory body the General Dental Council (see The Good Dentist Guide to Dental Regulation) has a guide to Going Abroad for Your Dental Care available from the GDC website




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