27 Jul

British Dental Association teams up with BBC to highlight dangers of dental tourism

The British Dental Association has teamed up with the BBC to highlight the dangers of dental tourism.

Members of the BDA have worked with the BBC on a new documentary, which outlines the potential risks of having dental treatment overseas. As part of their research for making the programme, the BDA asked dentists to share their experiences earlier this year. The findings were shocking, with 86% of the 95% of dentists who have seen patients who have undergone treatment abroad suggesting that patients developed complications. 

The poll found that dental crowns were the most common treatment for which patients needed follow-up or remedial care followed by dental implants. Over 50% of dentists said that they had seen patients who had been overseas for treatment in the last three years and over 80% classed dental tourism as a growing trend. 

Cost savings were the most popular reason for going to different countries for treatment, with 98% of dentists saying that saving money was the main factor that motivated patients to travel. Around 66% of dentists said that remedial treatment cost patients over £500 and over 50% said that costs amounted to over £1,000. One in five dentists carried out remedial treatment at a cost of more than £5,000. 

Many dentists raised concerns about the promotion of dental tourism on social media, with images of perfect smiles used to lure patients in. Almost all dentists surveyed said that they had concerns about the continuity of care. Other issues raised by participants included the quality of care, communication between dentists and patients and a lack of clarity about how patients could complain. 

BDA chair, Eddie Crouch, said that patients are tempted to travel for dental treatment due to cost savings and the increasing cost of living at home. Mr Crouch urged patients to research extensively and to be aware of the risks, as in many cases, “the reality is rarely as simple as it appears on Instagram.” For many patients who are travelling overseas, there is a risk of ending up paying more for UK dentists to pick up the pieces “when things go wrong.”

The BBC documentary, ‘Turkey Teeth: Bargain Smiles or Big Mistake?’ is available now on BBC iPlayer.