A growing number of patients are seeking dental treatment overseas to save on costs for seemingly comparable treatments. However, cost is not the only factor that needs to be considered when seeking treatment overseas, and there are very real issues that need to be discussed. It is important that patients are aware of the relevant considerations, issues and the risks involved in dental tourism.
Private health insurance funds do not cover dental treatment completed overseas.
AHPRA is Australia’s regulatory body that addresses complaints regarding quality of care. Other countries may not have any processes in place to address medical negligence or failed work.
Patients need to consider who will be responsible for covering the cost of complications and maintenance. Immediate complications may need to be treated overseas in the local hospitals or clinics. Most travel insurance policies do not cover the cost of medical treatment as part of a dental tourism visit.
All dental treatment requires ongoing maintenance. Complications can occur immediately following the procedure, or many years later. Patients need to consider the costs of maintenance as part of the overall treatment.
As the materials and procedures completed overseas may differ from what is offered in Australia, local dentists may not be able to service patients’ ongoing needs. Australian dentists are unable to service non-TGA compliant dental implants. If repair components are not available in Australia, even minor complications need to be directed back to their overseas dentist, which inevitably incurs more travel costs.
It is therefore not uncommon to see patients who have had dental treatment completed overseas requiring the work to be redone. The costs presumably saved on the initial treatment often end up being paid many times over for the maintenance and rectifying of complications.
Overseas clinics may appear to be “state-of-the-art”, but judging a clinic by its appearance is not duly diligent. It is necessary to have strict protocols in place such as the Australian Standards whereby certain classes of autoclaves must be used, as well as appropriate disposal of items after use. Dentists in other countries may claim their equipment is sterilised appropriately, but unless there are strict regulatory guidelines and systems in place, no-one would be held accountable.
Australians are often reluctant to drink the water overseas due to concerns regarding hygiene and infection. It would be fair to question whether they would be willing to undergo a medical or dental surgical procedure overseas with less stringent guidelines than in Australia.
All X-ray equipment used in dental surgeries in Australia is licensed and maintained. The units are calibrated to reduce the radiation dose that a patient receives, and to ensure that the units are not leaking radiation.
There are design protocols whereby the surgery walls are lead-lined to prevent radiation scatter. It is important to find out whether these protocols are in place in overseas clinics.
Many overseas dentists claim they are specialists; however, they are only recognised as specialists in accordance with the requirements of their country. Australian standards to become a dental specialist are amongst the highest in the world.
The immediate dental results may look aesthetically pleasing; however, when having extensive crown and bridgework completed, it is far more important that the foundations have been adequately prepared. Unfortunately, this can not be determined by the patient. All dental treatment has a finite lifespan. A crown can be replaced several times. However, if the foundation is inadequate, then once the initial crown fails, a new crown may not be able to be fabricated and the tooth may require removal. This in turn increases the financial and biological costs, as further treatment such as dental implants would be required.
Dental tourism has a significant benefit to the general tourism industry overseas and therefore a lot of money is invested in promoting the dental services.
There is no regulatory body (such as AHPRA in Australia) that protects against “false testimonials” and there is no way of knowing whether the reviews are genuine.
Advertising and online testimonials are not reliable sources.
There are many Australian dental clinics that can offer very competitive prices for their dental services. It may take some research in finding out the approximate fees involved for the required procedure and to find a dental practice in Australia that can offer the treatment within your financial budget. In addition to this, there is peace of mind knowing that strict standards and protocols are in place for quality of care.
Our dental professionals provide a comprehensive range of dental implant services from our Perth CBD location. We are easily accessible for patients in West Perth, East Perth, South Perth, North Perth, Subiaco, and surrounding suburbs.