‘Dental Tourism’ is it worth the RISK?
These days it is common for people to seek ‘dental tourism’ options while overseas. Lets face it, cheap dentistry on the back of a vacation can be appealing. Its possible to save 50% on the cost of dental treatment when travelling aboard to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, China, India and even some eastern European countries.
Things you need to be aware of when considering Travel for Dental Treatment or ‘Dental Tourism’ as it is sometimes described.
It is important to do your research and ask the practitioner preforming your treatment what quality assurances do they provide. Patients are entitled to know where they stand if something goes wrong. Patients should also enquire as to what type of materials will be used during their treatment and whether or not these materials are approved in their country of residence. This is not to say all dental work done abroad is of poor quality, but as a patient you need to be aware of the consequences if something goes wrong after returning home.
A problem we witnessed recently involved a patient who had dental implant treatment in an Asian country. After returning home, some maintenance and repair work was required, however in Australia it was impossible to source replacement parts (new abutment / crown screws etc.) as the implant system had no local representatives and their products were not approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Agency) for Australian use.
This is where is gets tricky.
There are Australian and Overseas based companies that actively promote and arrange this whole ‘Dental Tourism’ thing. Everything from booking the treatments, flights, hotel or resort accommodation as well as transfers from your hotel to the hospital / clinic and back. Unfortunately these companies seldom offer insurance for the work that is being done and if you complain to them all of the sudden they stop answering your calls and responding….. so make sure you protect yourself if you feel ‘Dental Tourism’ is your only option.
The most common types of dental procedure many Australians are travelling abroad for are;
- Root Canal Treatment
- Cosmetic Fillings
These treatments sound simple and most of the time they are, however some potentially complexities exist and can arise when not expected.
Is it worth the GAMBLE?
MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH!!
What questions need to be asked and what are the potential risks?
- What are the practitioners qualifications and where were they trained?…One particular patient seeking reparative treatment in Australia for work done overseas was heard to say “but the dentist had a dental degree from Monash University”…..Hello, Monash University has no Dental School…..falsified documentation is a big problem in Asia.
- Read online reviews but not only on the dentists own website
- Ask about Guarantees or Warranties if something goes wrong, do they have an arrangement with a clinic in your hometown for maintenance?
- “Will I have to fly back if something goes wrong and who will fund the additional travel and other incurred expenses?”
BENEFITS OF BEING TREATED LOCALLY
Good dental work is often more expensive in Australia than in Asian or other third world countries, but at least you can be safe with the knowledge that there is a complaint system and process that can be accessed here in every state. In Australia, patients have the right to complain about health services with the Health Commissioner, Dental and Medical Boards or professional associations like the ADA (Australian Dental Association) or AMA (Australian Medical Association).
Discuss your financial concerns with your local dentist or doctor and seek their advice. There may be an options out there that you are not aware of that can help you fund your dental work here, such as third party financing. Try to work out a payment plan with your dentist or see if your condition make you eligible for an early withdraw of money from your Superfund.