People have known about “dental tourism” for some time now. I even had a patient many years ago, who made the trip to Mexico to have a crown made – and at a substantially lower fee than mine. Honestly, I thought it was… not bad! But, then, I’ve also seen many, many cases in which the result was horrendous.
Some dental treatment failures can be fixed after the fact, (which adds tremendously to the “cost” savings that patients were going for) and many others, particularly ones involving dental implants and prosthetics – can be much more complicated and expensive, if possible, to rectify at all.
A while back, the CBS show “60 Minutes” did a feature on the Mexican town of Los Algodones, also known as “Molar City”; Population of 6,000 including 600 dentists, Molar City is one of the world’s top destinations for dental tourists. When asked about the “60 Minutes” episode, an American Dental Association spokesperson was quoted as saying “There are good and bad dentists everywhere”.
True, but that’s not the whole story!
So why would someone travel from around the world to Mexico, India, or Eastern Europe for their dental work? Some of the reasons are:
Reduced waiting times
Good care (in some cases)
There are, however, potentially significant risks with this scenario:
Inadequate training – Many foreign countries do not have the rigorous and uniform training programs and licencing requirements that we maintain here in the U.S. This can often lead to poor outcomes!
Infection Control – Many foreign countries do not have organizations like OSHA to insure and enforce a safe standard for infection control. There have even been cases of patients acquiring Hepatitis B and C and even HIV by having procedures done in unclean clinics overseas.
Unapproved materials – Some countries permit the use of materials that have not been approved here in the United States. Why does this matter, you might ask? Well, you may recall the fact that the FDA never approved Thalidomide for use in pregnant women in the U.S., unlike Canada, England, and Belgium, which suffered horrendous birth defects as a result of this practice.
And finally, what if there is a problem? – It’s not very easy to see your dentist to repair or treat an unexpected problem if they are 2,000 miles away!
The old saying, “Buyer Beware” would surely apply here! For more information on this interesting topic visit the American Dental Association’s page on this: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/travel