Dental tourism is where a person has a dental procedure performed overseas, often in combination with a holiday and in an attempt to save money. There are good stories and horror stories doing the rounds, but for anybody considering overseas dentistry there are some important points to reflect on when making a decision as to whether it’s the right choice for you.
Firstly, it’s important to understand why the procedure is cheaper overseas.
Australian dentists must complete extensive university training and undergo mandatory continuing professional development. Overseas, people practicing dentistry may have completed sub-standard education compared to dentists registered in Australia.
With complex procedures comes the very real risk of something going wrong. A dental emergency can be a frightening experience in a place where there may be little or no support to deal with an emergency. Being separated by distance from family support can also be the cause of distress, as is the potential language barrier that leaves patients feeling isolated and unsure of their situation.
With crowns, bridges and implants there may be no guarantee on the quality of workmanship, making it difficult and/or costly to get a fault repaired once the patient has returned to Australia. By comparison, these same items when provided in Australia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to ensure they are suitable for the Australian public.
Infection control and the spread of disease can be a very real problem in overseas clinics. In Australia the Australian Dental Association, National Health & Medical Research Council and the Dental Board of Australia impose strict infection control protocols on Australian clinics.
Consider all of the risks carefully when making a decision about overseas dentistry. If you do proceed with a dental procedure overseas then make sure you research exactly who is working on your teeth, the standard of their facilities and have somebody at home who has all of the details of your planned treatment in case of emergency.