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Risks of dental tourism highlighted by ADA

The Australian Dental Association has released a warning about the risks of engaging in dental tourism. (Photograph: Alex_Alekseev/Shutterstock)

Thu. 13. July 2017


SYDNEY, Australia: With the cost of dental treatment presenting a significant barrier for many Australians, some may consider dental tourism—travelling to another country to undergo a dental procedure—to be an increasingly viable option. With this in mind, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has been prompted to issue a warning about the risks that may accompany this decision.

Australian dental tourists tend to travel to a wide variety of places for cheaper procedures, from South-East Asian hotspots like Bali and Thailand to eastern European destinations. Though it is in no way illegal to have dental procedures performed away from Australia—and the initial cost of the treatment may be relatively cheap—there can often be unforeseen complications that are unable to be handled effectively in the time span of the period abroad, the ADA warned.

“The decision to become a dental tourist usually comes to down to one simple thing—saving money,” said Dr Michael Foley, Vice Chairman of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee.

“While it’s true you may save some money in the short term, the reality is that things can go wrong and all those expected savings can quickly disappear and end up costing more than the holiday itself.”

In addition to procedural complications, dental tourists may be subject to less-stringent quality standards and lower-grade materials in comparison with Australian dentistry. If a patient is dissatisfied with dental work performed overseas, the ADA cautioned, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to repair satisfactorily and may lead to the extraction of the affected teeth.

“Complex procedures—medical or dental–should not be done over the course of a holiday,” said Foley.

“If you have the need for a complex medical treatment or procedure, it is best done in Australia where you can be assured of the safety and quality standards in place, and of the certainty of follow up.”

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