Dental tourism is booming, thanks to the lower treatment costs abroad and growing waiting lists in areas of the UK.
Why is dental tourism so popular?
The most attractive reason for going abroad for dental treatment is the cost; in many countries, dental treatments are less than half the price of the same treatment in the UK. In addition to this, treatment can often be done much quicker than in the UK, where the demand for dentists is higher and there are often waiting lists. Since their admission into the European Union, several countries in Eastern Europe have become more developed and their economies are now much more stable; regeneration and new found wealth have filtered into the dental industry and eastern European countries now boast some of the best clinics across the whole of Europe.
Seeking dental treatment abroad is particularly common amongst patients who need a large amount of work done; often a series of treatments in the UK can produce dentist�s bills totalling thousands of pounds, which most people simply cannot afford, especially in the current economic climate. The possible savings over a number of different treatments could be massive.
Where do people choose to go for treatment?
The UK is one of the most expensive countries for dental treatment so the list of possible destinations to make a saving on dental care is vast. When dental tourism first became popular, British people chose to go to other Western European countries; however, recently Brits have been flocking to Eastern European countries where cosmetic dentistry is booming and the prices are amongst the lowest in the world. British tourists are now flocking to destinations including Hungary, Romania, Latvia and Croatia, as well as traditional destinations such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. American tourists tend to visit Mexico and Canada to get cheaper dental treatment.
Researching treatment abroad
In the midst of all the deals and special offers, it can be easy to get caught up with bargain prices and book a trip without researching it properly; this could potentially be a real problem as there could be hidden costs and safety risks relating to the clinic or dentist you have chosen. It is important to research your trip thoroughly before you go; find out what the treatment involves, how long the treatment will take, who will be doing the procedure and what after care policy and services the clinic offers; in many cases, a series of appointments and follow up treatments may be needed which will affect the overall cost of the treatment.
One of the most important things to find out is the level of expertise of the dentist you have chosen; they should have the relevant qualifications and experience to perform the procedure and should be registered with the relevant dental association; regulations in the UK are notoriously rigorous compared to other countries so it is really important to make sure the clinic you choose is registered, approved and legally allowed to carry out the services it offers.
Now that dental tourism is so popular, there is huge range of information on offer on the internet; there are many forums and reviews, where people have written about their experiences and offered advice on which clinics to choose and which to avoid. There are also several companies who offer to organise the whole trip for patients now; this includes arranging the treatment, as well as accommodation and transport. The Treatment Abroad website is also a great source of information; it has been set up to offer advice to people considering medical or dental treatment abroad.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing to go abroad for dental treatment is insurance; although many people have benefitted from going abroad and have had absolutely no problems with their treatment, others have had a totally different experience. Having an insurance policy is really important as it acts as a back-up plan if something does go wrong; the cost of repairing a bodged operation will usually far outweigh the initial quote given for having the treatment in the UK. All people travelling abroad should have insurance anyway but people seeking dental treatment abroad should have a more comprehensive plan which covers the treatment they will be having; it is important to check which treatments are included in the policy before you decide which plan to go for.
What are the risks?
Although many people have really positive experiences when they go for treatment abroad, the risks are undoubtedly much higher than having the treatment done here in the UK. The British Dental Association has expressed concern over the standards of care in certain countries, as the levels of training, qualifications and experience are sometimes much lower than in Britain.
Some patients have found the clinic they have chosen because of its glossy photos online and glowing reviews actually turns out to be a run-down, basic surgery; although this is rare, it is a risk; cases like these present risks of infection resulting from a non-sterile environment and complications with the procedure. Standards of hygiene and regulations to prevent the development and spread of harmful health conditions, such as HIV and hepatitis, are not as stringent in other countries as in the UK so the threat of infection is much more significant.
Hidden costs are another risk associated with dental tourism; in many cases the price quoted on websites or in magazines is not the total price of the treatment, as follow-up treatment may be required. In addition to this, many patients do not take into account the cost of accommodation and transport for additional appointments they may need; for example a treatment that is carried out in 3 stages will require either a long stay in the country or 3 separate visits; the cost of accommodation and transport will therefore be much higher than first anticipated.