suitcases sitting near window at airportDental tourism has become, unfortunately, a common way for people to try to find cheaper dental treatment. It might seem like a triple win: get a vacation, get dental treatment, and save money. However, the reality is that it’s actually a great way to ruin your vacation, create a need for urgent dental care, and cost yourself more money. 

While individual horror stories are shocking, they don’t convey the extent of the risk. A new survey of dentists in the UK–where dental tourism is also common–drives this truth home. It shows that most dentists have had to provide sometimes very costly fixes for patients after dental tourism. The Irvine cosmetic dentists at Rice Dentistry encourage you to save your tourism for vacationing and get your dentistry at home from a dentist you can trust. 

Most Dentists Have Fixed Tourism Errors

A new survey published by the British Dental Association shows that dental tourism often results in major problems that UK dentists had to fix. Of 1,000 dentists surveyed, 94% reported that they had examined patients who had traveled abroad for dental treatment. That shows how common the trend is. 

Unfortunately, problems with dental tourism are also common. Most of the dentists who examined dental tourism patients (86% of total surveyed) treated patients for complications related to their treatment abroad. The most common complication was failed treatment (86%), followed by pain (76%). Nearly as many (72%) were unhappy with the treatment execution.

Dentists in the survey reported dental crowns as the most likely treatment to go wrong (87%), followed by dental implants (85%). We’ve talked before about why it’s not a good idea to use dental tourism for dental implants. 

Of course, people go abroad seeking cheaper treatment, according to 98% of dentists surveyed. Ironically, most of those that treated dental tourism patients reported a significant cost to treat complications. Two-thirds of dentists surveyed said that fixes cost at least £500 ($600). More than half of dentists said that fixes cost at least £1000 ($1200), and about 20% said that fixes cost more than £5,000 ($6,000). 

When you consider the difficulty, time, pain, and inconvenience of getting fixes, it’s unlikely that any dental tourism is still a bargain after adding on an additional $6,000 in touch-up costs. 

ADA Cautions on Dental Tourism

In an article pointedly entitled, “Does Dental Tourism Really Save Patients Money?,” the American Dental Association (ADA) puts forward its own cautions and guidelines about dental tourism. 

First, the ADA notes that the safety regulations and professional standards in other countries are not like those in the US. There may be an increased risk of infection, and dentists may or may not have professional certifications and training. 

The ADA offers four recommendations for people considering dental tourism. 

1. Run a Detailed Cost Analysis

Dental tourism isn’t guaranteed to save you money. To make sure you’re really going to save money (even if you don’t have complications), you need to perform a detailed cost analysis. 

Factor in the cost of the flight, lodging, food, and other transit. Once you put all the costs together, see what you’re really saving and decide if it’s actually worth the risk. 

2. Plan Out the Logistics

There are always complicated documents to deal with when traveling, and these have only gotten worse in the post-COVID era. Be prepared to present proper documentation for vaccination (or get regular COVID testing) in many destinations. Some places still have quarantine procedures in place, especially for unvaccinated travelers. 

Make sure these requirements won’t interfere with you getting to your treatment and back. 

3. Research Qualifications and Read Reviews

Just as in the US, there are many dentists abroad who are prepared to offer treatment. These dentists may not all be of the same quality. Nor are the best dentists necessarily the most expensive ones. 

Take time to research all your dentist options to find the ones most suitable for your treatment, both in terms of cost and quality of care. 

4. Plan for Follow-Up Care

Any dental procedure that is worth traveling for is likely going to need some level of follow-up care. Plan to stay in the area of the dental clinic for at least a few days to get immediate follow-up care. Don’t forget to factor this extended stay into your cost calculations. 

In addition, make sure you have good contact information for the clinic so you can hopefully reach them if you have any complications. Note that a dentist performing a fix in the US isn’t going to want to turn their schedule around to call a dental office ten time zones away with questions–that might be up to you. 

It’s also important to note that dental insurance might not cover follow-up care or fixes of dental procedures performed overseas. 

Get Quality Dental Care in Irvine

If you are considering dental tourism, make sure you have adequately factored in the costs and the risks. For many people, it just makes more sense to get your dental treatment in Irvine and keep your vacation relaxing. 

At Rice Dentistry, we offer a good value for the quality dental care we provide. We also offer payment options to help you afford the care you want and need. 

To learn more about the benefits of cosmetic dentistry in Irvine, please call (949) 551-5902 or use our online form to schedule an appointment at Rice Dentistry in East Irvine near Discovery Park.