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What Is Dental Tourism and Should I Get “Turkey Teeth”?

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article by Raha Sepehrara

As a nation, we care more about the appearance of our smile than we may have done before. On the whole, this is a good thing. While many people in the UK invest more time and effort into the proper hygiene routine, many opt for cosmetic treatments. Although these treatments primarily tackle aesthetic concerns, they all help preserve the health of your teeth, gums, and jaws. 

The rise of cosmetic dentistry has also fan-fared in dental tourism. Many Brits are swapping their local dental practices for far-flung dentists and packing their bags for treatments in the sun. 

Dubbed “Turkey teeth”, the results of foreign cosmetic dental treatments are evident everywhere —on minor celebrities, TikTok influencers, and even the barman down your local pub. The question is, are these treatments worth it? And are they safe?

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of dental tourism so you can make an informed decision about your cosmetic treatment. 

Where Has Dental Tourism Come From?

Dental tourism has been with us for a few years. It works to the logic that it’s cheaper to travel overseas to get treatments like dental veneers and implants than it is to see your local dentist. 

Often, the cost of living is lower in the destination countries, meaning overseas dental practices have lower staffing and premises costs. 

The concept of dental tourism has boomed in the UK as the European Union has expanded and low-cost airlines have become more commonplace. Once you throw social media into the mix, you have the means and the demand. 

In the last few years, overseas dentists have started actively marketing their services to UK patients online, meaning you’re more likely to see ads on social media or when searching on Google for treatments. 

Is Dental Tourism a Good Idea?

At first glance, dental tourism seems like a great proposition. You get the treatment you want for less and can enjoy a holiday too. But there are some things you need to consider. 

 

The Language Barrier

The first thing to consider is the language. If you’re heading to a country that speaks a language you don’t understand, you may have issues communicating with your dentist. While you may hope your dentist speaks good English, it’s not always guaranteed. 

Language barriers can cause problems during your consultation, as well as during the treatment. If you have problems after treatment or experience complications, are you confident these will be understood and dealt with?

 

The Local Dental Regulations

In the UK, we have the General Dental Council (GDC), the organisation that regulates dental professionals. If we fail to meet standards, they take action. Patients in the UK can complain about poor care, and the GDC will investigate. 

Not every country has a regulator, and those that do may not have the same standards or reach as the GDC. 

 

The True Cost of Treatment

Before you book your plane tickets and hotel, you must do the sums. By the time you have factored in insurance, food and drink, and additional travel costs like transfers, you may not be saving much. 

Many dental treatments take multiple appointments. Will you need to make a return journey at a later date?

 

It’s Not a Holiday!

If you think you can enjoy lounging on the beach and taking in the local cuisine while you’re visiting, it’s unlikely to feel like the holiday you expect. During your recovery, you may be restricted in what you can eat, and you may not feel much like sunning yourself. 

 

There Have Been Health Complications

The biggest thing to consider is the treatment you will receive. “Turkey teeth” are often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Many patients have gone for veneers but have had healthy teeth shaved down into small points. Veneer placement requires very small amounts of enamel to be removed. Once a tooth is cut down to a point, it cannot grow back. 

Some patients return with complications like infections, or their treatments fail. This often means further dental or even hospital treatment when they return home.

Get the Full Facts First

Before considering dental treatments overseas, come and see us first. Our friendly dentists can help you make the most informed decision about your care. Schedule your consultation today.

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