Why Dental Tourism Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

The concept of a sun-soaked holiday abroad with a spot of dental work thrown in sounds genius, but at the end of the day, will you end up biting off more than you can chew?

Let’s take a closer look.

Dental tourism is rising at a rate of 23% year on year, and with countries like Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania offering dental treatments for less than half of those back in the UK, it sounds like an offer you shouldn’t refuse. 

Yet, 90% of UK dentists report having to re-treat patients that have travelled abroad for cheap dental work.

The problem is so severe that a British Dental Association (BDA) report divulged the concerns of dental professionals treating UK residents following procedures abroad – notably poor quality work and failed or failing treatment. 

If you plan to travel abroad for dental work, you should know the potential risks before booking your flight. 

So what are those risks?


Most people travelling abroad for dental treatment seek advanced high-cost procedures (which they can’t afford at home). These naturally come with a higher risk of complications, many of which can develop after you return home. 

When this happens, it’s not easy travelling back to the clinic that provided treatment, especially if you’re in severe pain or have an infection. Overpreparation of teeth, lack of aftercare, difficulty making a complaint or seeking redress were cited by 77% of dentists that responded to the BDA survey in 2022. 

Moreover, restoring damaged teeth can be very expensive. 65% of dentists stated that it cost patients at least £500 to repair the damage done from getting dental work abroad, while a further 51% reported patients spent more than £1,000, and 20% of those said the repair costs to some patients exceeded £5,000.

Language barriers

In any dental procedure, proper communication is paramount. Understanding what’s involved before, during and after treatment is vital, particularly post-surgical care. 

If English is not the clinician’s first language, things can become lost in translation. This can be a significant problem. The clinician needs to understand your requirements fully, and ultimately, you need to know what you’re getting. 

There are many cases of patients who thought they were receiving full-mouth dental implants, for example, and ended up with a set of plastic dentures instead. Here’s one such tale.   

Limited treatment time

Complex treatments such as crowns, veneers, bridges and implants require detailed preparation and several follow-up visits. These procedures aren’t easy or quickly carried out. Expertise and time are paramount to a good outcome. For example, several adjustments and repeat visits are required to achieve a perfect bite. 

Unfortunately, the dentist may have to rush through the procedure due to time restraints because the patient’s flight home is booked in less than a week! 

Failure to leave sufficient time in between treatment stages often leads to complications at a later date. 

Varying standards and approaches

In the UK, we have high standards of cross-infection control that other countries may not have. Consequently, patients travelling to developing countries could be more at risk of developing infection, antibiotic resistance, and exposure to blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B.

Approaches may also vary. For example, UK dentists are more inclined to try and save a tooth, whereas dentists may lean towards extraction in other countries. Overseas dentists may also have a different concept of aesthetic beauty. Take the USA, for example. Brilliant white Hollywood smiles are all the rage, whereas a more natural look is the smile of choice for many UK patients. 

Hidden costs 

The final risk of dental tourism brings us back to cost – or rather, hidden fees. When flicking through glossy brochures or adverts online, the price quoted may not be the total cost of your treatment since you may require additional follow-up visits. For example, a multi-stage procedure, like dental implants, may mean a more extended stay in a foreign country or two or three separate visits. Therefore, any costs you may have factored in for accommodation and transport will likely be higher than you first anticipated.

Dental tourism – Things to consider

If you think dental tourism is right for you, do your homework. Don’t rely purely on PR and marketing or be swayed by glamorous websites and 5-star patient reviews. Check the dentist’s qualifications and experience, and try to find patient testimonials from people who have undergone the same procedure you’re seeking.

Alternatively, stay at home

Conversely, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that private dental treatment in the UK is beyond your reach. At Foxbury Dental, we believe everyone deserves access to high-quality dental treatment, which is why we offer a variety of dental care plans to help you keep your oral health on track. We also provide 0% finance for more complex, high-cost treatments. So don’t take unnecessary risks; give us a call. 

Interested to learn more?Contact us at 01858 455 100 or book your first visit.

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