Personal opinions may differ, but dental tourism is here to stay. And it’s not as if it’s a new concept, either. Throughout much of human history, people have travelled enormous distances to access not only superior healthcare, but also the kind of healthcare they can actually afford. It’s just that these days, more professional dentists worldwide are specialising in services for international patients than ever before.
The appeal of dental tourism is both clear and significant. Depending on the nature of the procedure and the location, it’s perfectly possible to save more than 75% of the costs you’d expect to pay at home in the United Kingdom. Dental healthcare standards in the UK may be incredibly high, but this is also one of the most expensive countries in the world for dentistry.
So it’s hardly surprising that people are searching overseas for a better offer. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind a few essential considerations, before making your final decision and travelling abroad.
- Different Standards
For example, dental care standards differ exponentially from one geographical region to the next. Even within the same country, standards from one area to another can be significant. While it’s not to say that many international dentists cannot be just as capable and responsible as those practicing in the UK, it is absolutely something that should not be taken for granted. Instead, you need to ensure that plenty of research is carried out beforehand, which should include checking out the testimonials and write-ups of those who have already been through what it is you yourself are now considering.
- Communication Barriers
Something else to be aware of is the possibility of communication issues during your trip and treatment. These days, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive for a foreign dentist to have an international website created with perfect use of the English language. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that those who will be carrying out your treatment speak more than a few words of English. Once again, this is something that differs significantly from one setting to the next and many international dentists are fluent in multiple languages. Nevertheless, you need to take the necessary steps to ascertain this, before going ahead. Once again, the reviews and recommendations of past and present patients can prove invaluable.
- Recuperation Issues
One of the biggest problems with travelling for any kind of dental procedure whatsoever overseas concerns not the treatment process itself, but what happens next. At home, if you undergo dental treatment at a local surgery, any problems you face or questions you have in the days, weeks and months following the treatment can be easily addressed. Even if it’s simply to gain important advice and support, the fact that you are within close proximity of the dentist’s office can be both convenient and reassuring. However, if the dentist that carried out the procedure is quite literally halfway around the world, this is a luxury you immediately sacrifice. Of course, there’s always the option of taking your problems and questions to a different dentist, but this will constitute additional expense.
- Follow Up Care
Chances are that following the treatment, the international dentist you work with will give you plenty of advice regarding aftercare. They may advise you on the best electric water flosser to use after surgery, a high-quality mouthwash after dental surgery and generally how you should go about eating, drinking and living during the recovery process. Which can be very helpful indeed, but nowhere near as helpful or reassuring as a physical examination. The follow-up care offered by any practicing dental surgeon will always include as many physical check-ups and examinations as necessary, in order to ensure that the recovery process is progressing exactly as it should be. For obvious reasons, this is something that is fundamentally impossible to go about when travelling long distances for treatment overseas. As such, it is worth speaking to your local dentist ahead of time, in order to arrange the necessary follow-up appointments locally instead.
- Hidden Costs and Extras
Last but not least, while it’s comparatively rare to come across particularly unscrupulous service providers these days, this doesn’t mean there aren’t those that will do anything and everything to maximise profits. Which may mean throwing all manner of hidden costs and extras into the equation, which were not disclosed when the initial arrangement was made. The problem being that the specifics of contractual law, consumer rights, business transparency and so on can be spectacularly different from one country to the next. What would be considered nothing short of fraud in the United Kingdom may simply be an everyday practice somewhere else. Even in instances where considerable savings are made, it is still perfectly possible to end up paying more than expected for the required treatment. Once again therefore, it’s a good idea to check out as many reviews, recommendations and testimonials as possible, before deciding which international dentist to work with.
The Bottom Line…
On the whole, there’s really no right or wrong answer when it comes to the value, safety and overall attractiveness of dental tourism. Just as thousands are travelling overseas and coming home absolutely delighted with both the results and the costs, others are having entirely different experiences.
The key to avoiding the latter being to carry out as much advance research as possible and not to take anything whatsoever for granted along the way.