Safesmiles

Dental tourism is when you travel abroad for dental treatment – often as part of a holiday.

The idea of combining an adventure and the sun with a low-cost smile makeover might seem appealing, but it may not be the safest thing for your smile.  There are several factors to think about before choosing to travel to a foreign country for dental treatment.

In the UK, all dental professionals must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) – the dental regulator.  The standards set by the GDC are extremely high.  This is to make sure you receive a high standard of care, under safe conditions.

It cannot be guaranteed that similar organisations exist in other countries.  Because of this, we recommend you do as much research as you can.  A poor experience will not only fail to meet your expectations, but can also put your smile, and health, at risk.

Regulations

Dental regulation is varies according to country, so it is a good idea to do some initial research on where your planned treatment will take place.

The first thing you should do is check if that country has a professional regulatory body and whether it is compulsory for dental professionals to be registered with them. These organisations are important because they hold dental professionals to account. This might offer you a level of reassurance over the safety and quality of treatment.

You may want to consider avoiding travelling overseas for dental treatment if that country does not have a regulatory body.

If there is a regulatory body, visit their website to check the standards they enforce, what qualifications dental professionals must have and who to contact if you have a complaint about your treatment.  It is always important to remember that you deserve the best care possible and that cheaper prices for lower standards are not worth putting your health at risk.

Consultations

Some overseas dental practices have clinics in the UK that offer consultations before you travel abroad for treatment.  A qualified dentist must carry out this assessment and it should be done before you are given a treatment plan and cost.

If this consultation is in the UK, make sure the dentist is registered with the GDC.  If they are not, they are working illegally, and you should look elsewhere for treatment.

You can check if a dentist is registered with the GDC by visiting www.gdc-uk.org or by calling 020 7167 6000.

Questions

The consultation is your chance to ask as many questions as possible so you can feel safe and confident in your decision. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, even if they seem blunt or obvious.

If you are not satisfied with the answers you are given, don’t feel you have to commit to anything that day.  Go home and do some more research until you feel confident that all your questions have been answered.

The GDC recommends asking the following questions:

  • 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 of time?

  • 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?

  • Do you have insurance to cover this procedure?

  • Do you have a complaints system in place? Can I see a copy of it?

  • Who can I contact for advice after the treatment?


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