For those considering dental tourism, we thought we’d take a look at some of the risks, and provide you with some tips for going ahead safely should you choose this option. After all, whether or not you choose us as your practitioners, allowing you to find the best dentist for you is something that we care about.
Firstly, while dental tourism may seem appealing because of the reduced investment for treatment, we believe that something as sensitive and crucial as your teeth needs to be handled by a dentist you can trust.
Your offshore dentist operates in a developing country, hence the cost savings to you. They may practice outside of the stringent standards and conditions of healthcare that is regulated in Australia. These have been enforced to maintain your best interests as patients, and the best code of conduct from us – as dentists – in terms of quality, ethics, hygiene and practice standards. Your offshore dentist is not liable to the same rules and regulations that we are held to here. In Australia, it is very clear that any practicing dentist has had a certain level of training and experience to be registered.
Additionally, whilst dental tourism may promote a reduced cost to dental services, you will be likely to encounter unforeseen costs following treatment. It is not uncommon for patients to come to us (after receiving treatment overseas) requiring repairs and correction of work done by their offshore dentists. If your treatment was handled poorly, it will require significant work and more investment to have your mouth corrected. These extra costs and repairs are counter-intuitive to the benefit of dental tourism. As with all things, you get what you pay for. You really need to ask yourself if risking the quality of your dental care, and facing the consequences, is worth the potential savings.
To reflect the brevity of these risks, you will find that you’ll be going it alone if you opt for dental tourism. Travel insurance won’t cover these trips; and there is no regulatory board to raise issues and ensure accountability offshore. In fact, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) advocates for patients to reconsider dental tourism. They emphasise that the standards of dentistry overseas aren’t as good as in Australia which poses risks with cleanliness and post treatment infections.
We believe that nothing beats going to a dentist that you can trust, who you know is held accountable by high standards such as those advocated in Australia.
However, if you are considering Dental Tourism, here is a checklist and tips for choosing your offshore provider:
- Conduct extensive research online and if possible visit the practice prior to committing. Look for the history of your dentist as well as their qualifications. Compare their training to the standards practiced in Australia. Other good metrics to measure are reviews and recommendations from expatriates living in the country as well as former dental tourists.
- Speak to your potential offshore dentist and ask questions. Find out your full treatment plan, the intended time frame as well as a total cost breakdown.
- Consult your existing dentist before going. Even if you’ve made the commitment to dental tourism, we advise that you visit us prior to go through your treatment plan, discuss your dental history and receive consultation on how to manage your trip to make the most of the dental care. As trained dentists, we will be able to help you resolve the unknown around your treatment options to reduce your risk overseas.
- Book a flexible trip. Things may take longer than anticipated. The last thing you need is the shock of needing to extend your trips and bearing the associated costs, OR needing to book an additional trip to finalise treatment.
- Allow enough time. Certain treatments, such as root canal surgery, os typically spaced out across weeks to allow the gums time to properly heal in the interim. Rushing this kind of treatment to fit into a typical holiday schedule to minimise costs leads to all sorts of complications.
- Have a plan for language barriers. It’s one thing for patients to navigate dental jargon at home, it’s a whole other issue understanding it with a foreign language involved. Make sure you know the important jargon associated with your treatment plan (find this out in a consult with your local dentist) to reduce the risk of miscommunication and mistreatment as a result overseas. Believe us when we say, you don’t want to risk miscommunication in the dental field!
- Have a plan for continuity of treatment. We all see our dentists over a lifetime for treatment and maintenance of our teeth. Your practicing dentist overseas may not know your full patient history. Once back in Australia, your own dentist will not have a full knowledge of what treatment you received, how it was performed and why. Make sure you get as much information as you can from your offshore dentist to add to your patient history for future care at home.