Affordable dental care?

A growing number of Australians are opting to travel overseas for a ‘dental tourism’ holiday, in search of affordable dental care. But just how safe is this practice?

Hundreds of thousands of Australians are on public dental waiting lists, and of those in private care many struggle to pay the high costs of dental work. Travelling overseas to have your teeth worked on for a fraction of the cost, without the long wait times and with the added bonus of an overseas holiday sounds almost too good to be true. So what’s the catch?

Earlier this month the Australian Public Affairs office released a statement warning Australians to “get the facts” on overseas dental tourism.

Dr Markijan Hupalo, a board-certified prosthodontist in Sydney, regularly treats patients who have experienced complications with overseas dental surgery. He says of the practice of travelling overseas for dental work, “There is generally only one reason for receiving treatment overseas, and that is cost. Many patients today consider treatment in Australia to be too expensive and are choosing to travel overseas instead.

What they often don’t realise is that their desire to save money could be putting them at risk of long term damage. I regularly see and help patients who have had overseas dental treatments that have gone very wrong.”

Dr Hupalo went on to explain that, while an implant in Australia usually costs around $5000, a significant portion of this cost incorporates using high quality components in the implant itself. He suggests that it is likely those offering implants overseas for a fraction of the cost are also using lower quality components, which cannot be used in Australia as they don’t meet basic standards.

He suggests that, as a preventative measure, anyone having dental treatment done overseas should consider visiting a board certified prosthodontist on their return, just to check that nothing has gone wrong.

The Australian Public Affairs office has urged anyone considering overseas dental treatment, especially if they are considering having the work done in a developing country, to undertake extensive research. Talk to several providers, get several opinions and check out their qualifications and board certifications.

What do you think? Is overseas dental work worth the risk because of the significantly lower cost? Do you think you can protect yourself by doing extensive research, or is the potential for disaster just not worth it?

And if you have gone overseas for dental work, why not share your experience in the comments below?