Dental holidays are presented as a cheap and hassle-free alternative to getting treatment in the UK. However, we know from people who have called us, that if things do go wrong, they are anything but straight forward.

Callers have complained of facing dental bills of up to £10,000 to correct poor quality dental work, while one caller had to be taken to A&E to drain an infection after her face swelled up so that she could not open her eye.

These stories are not uncommon. A report by consumer advice group Which?, found that more than a quarter of patients travelling abroad for medical treatment do not feel like they received the follow-up care they needed, while a further 18% report complications.

Here are some of the potential problems when travelling abroad for dental treatment.


Many people who are going abroad are wanting more advanced (higher cost) procedures which are more likely to result in complications. No matter how skilled the clinician, there is always a risk of treatment failure. If complications do arise once you are home, it will not always be easy to return to the clinic which provided the treatment, especially if there is an infection.


Procedures such as crowns, bridges, veneers and implants are not easily, or quickly, carried out. Expertise and time are essential to achieving a good outcome.

For instance, to achieve a perfect bite, you need repeat visits and a series of adjustments. This may not be possible if the dentist is abroad. 

Language barriers

It is always important that your clinician can communicate with you and explain the treatment provided and recommendations for post-surgical care.

This is always more difficult when English is not the first language of your practitioner. He or she needs to know exactly what you want, and you need to know exactly what you are getting.

Problems and complaints often arise from communication issues.

Varying standards and approaches

Different countries have a different concept of aesthetic beauty. For example, in the USA very white and even teeth are thought attractive, whereas in the UK we prefer a more natural smile.

There are also varying clinical standards and while in the UK, dentists are more likely to save a tooth, in some countries, dentists may be more ready to extract.

Not all countries have the same high standards of cross-infection control, and in developing countries there can be a higher incidence of infectious diseases.

Calculate costs

Many of those considering travelling abroad believe that private dentistry in the UK is not affordable.

However, sometimes this is based on an assumption. It is advisable to talk to a number of dental practices, check prices and ascertain if they have a payment plan in place.

This can help spread treatment costs, making treatment both affordable and accessible.

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