Dental care can be expensive. From essential endodontic treatments (root canal therapy) to cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, dentures, and implant dentistry, taking care of your teeth and maintaining a beautiful smile is not a small investment.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, “dental tourism” was an appealing alternative for some Australians seeking to save money on their dental care. Australian dental professionals have long been concerned about this trend and wish to inform consumers about the risks of going overseas for any kind of medical or dental procedure.
What is Dental Tourism?
Some agencies offer trips from Australia to enticing destinations in Southeast Asia with a dental (or medical) procedure as part of the deal. Everything from flights to accommodation and recreational activities is included in the package, as well as advice about which doctor, dentist, clinic, or hospital to visit for one’s preferred procedure.
The most common overseas dental work for Australians includes:
- Dental Implants
- Root Canals
- Teeth Whitening
- Crowns & Bridges
- Dental Veneers
The Drawbacks of Overseas Dental Care
While it may be tempting to consider going on a beautiful holiday at the same time as getting cheap dental treatment, undergoing dental work overseas has definite pitfalls:
- Travel insurance does not cover elective medical/dental and unforeseen complications will not be covered.
- The qualifications of your overseas dentist may not be as reputable as those in Australia and are not guaranteed.
- Foreign providers are not bound by the same quality assurance regulations as Australian dentists, and standards may differ dramatically.
- Many other countries do not have governing bodies that enforce safety and quality measures and thereby prevent staff from cutting corners or providing substandard care. There is less accountability for overseas dental work and the risk of complications is much higher.
- Dental tourism is a time-sensitive entity and there is high potential for rushed consultations, miscommunication between you and the dentist, and a lack of adequate, quality aftercare.
- Lower quality equipment and supplies may be used as part of the cost-cutting measures implemented by the provider.
- Possible language barriers can be problematic when seeking medical or dental care overseas – your medical history is important and both patient and dentist must be able to clearly understand each other.
- Dentistry is not a one-size-fits-all consideration and there is no guarantee that this is not the approach an overseas dentist takes.
- Foreign dentistry may incur hidden costs – unexpected extra charges for anaesthesia, medications, and more.
Why Have Dentistry at Home in Australia?
- Australia’s dental industry is heavily regulated, and we have some of the highest standards in the world for everything from provider qualifications to treatment protocols, infection control, cleanliness, sterilisation, and more.
- The training, qualifications, registration, and certification of dentists in Australia are transparent and there are formal avenues if you have any concerns about the care you have received.
- Australian dentists and oral surgeons have access to the highest quality dental supplies in Sydney and throughout the nation. The leading distributors of these offer comprehensive catalogues of gold-standard products from the world-renowned brands that top dentists and other health professionals trust.
- You can build a relationship with your local home-based dentist and there are no time constraints for consultations as there are if you go for foreign treatment.
- Follow up and aftercare are critical in dentistry – even with the smoothest procedure, things may need to be tweaked or addressed during the recovery period or thereafter. A local dentist is available to see to any concerns and rectify these with the best possible care.
The Australian Dental Association warns consumers about the risks of dental tourism. The money saved by going overseas for dental treatments may ultimately be insignificant compared with the additional costs of going back for issues that arise, for requiring medical care at home for infection or other complications or to have substandard work rectified. You really do get what you pay for.
By Alana Wills on behalf of AdamDental.com.au
Alana Wills is an experienced freelance content writer who works in collaboration with www.adamdental.com.au, a leading online distributor of dental supplies in Australia.