Dental tourism involves the patient visiting a foreign country to receive dental implants or other types of dental care. In several eastern European or Asian countries, dental treatment fees can be less than half the price compared with the most expensive UK dental practices. Many people perceive this to mean that significant savings can be made, especially if they do not have dental insurance which covers the treatment which they require. Many dentistry treatments such as dental implants are classified as purely cosmetic dental procedures, and as a result they are not covered by most dental insurance policies.
In recent years it has became increasingly easier to find dental clinics which can offer treatment overseas. There are numerous foreign dental companies whose websites can easily be found on the internet. Such clinics are usually located in Hungary, Poland, Thailand, India or Singapore.
At the beginning of 2010, a study showed that trips for ‘dental tourism’ were becoming increasingly popular in Britain – maybe partly due to the recession.Â The survey suggested that a growing number of British people have been travelling to other countries in the belief that they will receive usually high-priced dental treatments at a far lower price. In 2009 just over quarter of a million UK citizens travelled overseas to receive dental treatment.
Currently Dr Neil Lunt from the University of York is leading a team of researchers to look into whether venturing overseas for dental treatments and various other health procedures actually provides good value for money. The research team includes sociologists, medical professionals and health economists; Â they are responsible for determining the impact which British health tourists are having on the UK economy and the NHS (National Health Service).
The main perceived advantage of receiving dental treatment abroad is the cost of the treatment.Â However, if complications occur after the patient returns to the UK it is likely to be the NHS which is left to correct the problem and pick up the tab.
Disadvantages & Risks
There are a number of disadvantages and increased levels of risk involved in dental tourism; including quality issues, guarantees of dental work and costly repeat visits.
- Dentists who are based in other countries may use dental implants and other components which are of lower quality than those used in the UK. This is due to the strict regulation of the UK dental implant industry which is imposed by European and British regulatory bodies. Similar regulations may not be so strictly enforced in some other counties.
- An individual who is dissatisfied with their dental work might have little if any redress against the cosmetic dentist in some countries.
- Treatments – such as dental implants – that have a lengthy recovery period in between treatments or involve repeat visits will require the patient to make several expensive trips.
For any prospective UK Dental Implant Patient who is considering dental tourism it is important to make an informed choice on whether having dental implant treatments abroad is sufficiently cheaper than in the Britain; and whether those savings are substantial enough to warrant the increased risks. This can be achieved with an understanding of the dental implant procedure and thorough internet research enabling the price differences to be compared along with the extra costs of flights and accommodation being taken into account.