Dental tourism – Do you know the facts?

Over the last few months, one of our most frequently asked about topics is in regards to going abroad for dental treatment. We realise that this is becoming a popular option for many people. It can sound very appealing with clinics advertising lower costs, good treatment outcomes plus the added incentive of a holiday destination as part of the package.

Here at North Street Dental, we always recommend that people undertake the appropriate research before committing to any dental treatment, whether in the UK or abroad. It is essential you know what to expect before, during and after your treatment.

Another thing to be clear on is what to do if something goes wrong. Who will be providing aftercare? Will you incur extra charges? Will you need to travel again? Is there a complaints procedure?

If you are considering travelling abroad for dental treatment, it’s essential you are fully aware of what to expect and what risks are involved. You may know how to raise concerns about your dental treatment in the UK, but are you familiar with the process in a foreign country?

Dental tourism - do you know the facts?

Dental tourism – GDC advice

Here in the UK, dental professionals are governed by a body called the GDC – the General Dental Council. All dental professionals must be registered with the GDC and indemnity and professional development must be declared every year.

There is an online database where you can check all registrants alongside their qualifications. The GDC gives strict guidelines for all dental professionals and anyone found to be working against these will be flagged up and investigated.

This system protects UK patients against poor dental treatment. However, not all countries have the same strict public protection in place. If poor dental treatment is experienced or received abroad, the standard of action against this may not be the same as here in the UK. It also means that practices in the UK may be unable to help you if anything goes wrong with the treatment you have received abroad.

dental tourism - the real costs

Questions to ask the treatment provider

The GDC has set out some questions to be asking potential treatment providers before you start any treatment with them. You can also tailor these questions to ask UK clinicians and treatment providers before receiving dental treatment.

  • Who will be carrying out my treatment and what qualifications do they have?
  • Will the dental team speak English? If not, will you provide a translator on the day of the procedure?
  • Do you have any references or testimonials from previous patients?
  • How many times have you carried out the procedure I am having? What are the rates of success, complication, readmission and infection?
  • Are you regulated by a professional body and do you have to be registered with them?
  • Is the work guaranteed for a certain period?
  • What aftercare do you provide?
  • What happens if I am unhappy with the results? Who pays for the extra flights, hotel and remedial work?
  • If there are complications and I need further treatment, is this included in the initial cost?
  • What are the systems and parts being used in my treatment?
  • Do you have insurance to cover this procedure?
  • Do you have a complaints system in place? Can I see a copy of it?
  • Whom can I contact for advice after treatment?
dental tourism

Beware of ‘specialist’ claims

If the dentist claims to be a specialist, it’s also essential to ask whether they can back this up. In the UK, we hold lists of dentists entitled to use the title ‘specialist’ Entry onto these lists is only granted if a dentist meets specific minimum standards of training. You may want to find out if you can expect the same standards of training from the dentist who will be carrying out your treatment abroad.

For more information on this topic, visit the GDC website. They have produced a PDF information leaflet called ‘going abroad for your dental care?’ that you can view online to get more information on dental tourism.

One of our patients Theresa, had considered travelling to Budapest for her dental treatment. Read Theresa’s story on our case study page.