‘Dental tourism’ is a concept that has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Patients seek out dental treatment, such as dental implants, abroad and travel for the sole purpose of receiving cosmetic and restorative dentistry. The main attraction for patients is the cost of treatment in some other countries – it can look like prices are significantly cheaper, depending on the individual treatments. However, as with many things in life, what looks too good to be true often is. There are all kinds of hidden costs with choosing to get dental implants abroad, one of the many reasons why dental treatment abroad might not prove a great long term investment.
1. The Quality of Treatment
The first thing to consider when choosing dental implants abroad is the quality of treatment you will receive. When you are considering dental implants in the UK, you will be choosing between dental practices that are regulated and trained in placing implants. Depending on where you choose for your dental implant placement you will not necessarily have the reliability of the UK regulation. What is not acceptable in one jurisdiction may be classed as acceptable in another. You will need to research practice, training and accreditation well to know you are getting the quality of treatment that your smile deserves.
2. The Hidden Costs
Finding a dental practice abroad that can place implants for a significantly cheaper price than in the UK can seem like the ideal solution for your smile. However, it is important to be aware of the potential hidden costs, particularly in the future. Poorly placed implants are more likely to fail or to have complications in the future. As you will have had your implants placed abroad, you won’t be able to easily or cheaply return to your dentist for ongoing treatment.
This can mean added costs and the hassle of finding a new dentist in the UK who can help with fixing any issues and ongoing aftercare for your dental implants.
3. Aftercare Maintenance and Treatment
When you buy an expensive car, there is an expectation that you will have to maintain it, using the parts and tools specifically designed for the vehicle you have chosen. When you have dental implant surgery, there is a degree of maintenance that will be needed to make sure your implants stay healthy and function well.
Patients who choose treatment abroad often neglect this aspect of treatment. The aftercare and long-term regular maintenance is essential to avoid implants failing in the future. If you have had your dental implants placed abroad you will have the choice of returning to that dentist for regular check ups, which could be impractical and costly, or finding a dentist who has experience of the implant that you have had placed.
4. The prohibitive costs to fix a failed dental implant placed abroad
If you are considering dental implants abroad because you don’t have the finances readily available to pay for treatment in the UK, it is worth factoring in costs to fix any treatment down the line. The success of dental implants is very much dependent on the way they are placed. Choosing a dentist who has the experience and skill to choose the right position, assess the need for bone grafts and any preparatory treatment, is essential for success. If you do have your dental implants placed abroad and then have to visit a UK dentist to fix any issues, you will need to have the finances available for this treatment as well.§
Leaving minor complications, such as swelling in the gums or bleeding from the implant site, can lead to more serious complications that cause the implant to fail. Often failing dental implants have no immediate symptoms, which is why dentists placing implants in the UK recommend regular maintenance checkups and hygiene appointments.
While it may seem cheaper to opt for dental implant surgery abroad, actually choosing a payment plan with a UK dentist with the skills and experience to place your implants, and support you in aftercare can save you money in the long run, whilst giving you time to pay the costs over an agreed period.
5. Being able to trace dental implants
Whilst there are strict regulations surrounding dental implants in the UK, and your dentist will be using the latest implants to ensure the best results for your smile, there are hundreds of different types of dental implants being made and often being discontinued by dental manufacturers. If you choose to have dental implants placed abroad and there is an issue, a UK dentist may not always be able to easily identify the components used or order replacements. This can lead to a larger treatment being needed to fix problems with dental implants later on.
6. The cost of fixing failed dental implants isn’t just financial
If you choose to have cheaper dental implants placed abroad by a dentist without the specialist skills, knowledge and sometimes regulations even, then the cost to fix a dental implant isn’t just financial. Failed dental implants may need to be removed, cleaned or have components sourced and changed. In some cases, where the dental implant failure isn’t picked up for a while, it can be even necessary to have a bone graft. All of this treatment doesn’t just have a financial implication but also a biological and emotional cost. Many patients are nervous about longer treatments but are then left with no option but to have more treatment. If dental implants fail and affect the bone around the site, this can mean the need for bone grafting.
What seems like a cheaper, sometimes quicker option can quickly become at least as financially costly and even more emotionally costly than choosing a UK dentist in the first place.
Why Choose a UK Dentist for Your Dental Implants?
Choosing a UK dentist offers you:
- A location you can go to immediately should you encounter any problems after the placement of your implants
- A dentist you can trust, who can see you on a regular basis to check the healing process and the maintenance of your dental implants, as well as your general dental and oral health
- Standard of care – where cross-infection is unlikely and you are protected by UK regulations
Are you considering dental implants?
If you are considering whether you should go abroad for dental implants, we would suggest your starting point should be getting an opinion from a UK dentist. By having a no obligation dental implants assessment, you can find out your options in the UK first. You might be surprised at the costs, treatment plan and payment options available. You should also have a full dental and oral hygiene assessment to check your suitability for the dental implant procedure before deciding to go abroad.