A leading dentist has warned of the risks faced by thousands of Brits who travel abroad in search of a better smile.
Tens of thousands of UK residents flock to hotspots such as Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine and Spain to get dental procedures at a fraction of the price it costs at home.
However, for many it can backfire, with a series of risks that could leave patients with crippling bills and substandard treatments.
Dr Honar Shakir, of leading private dental firm Banning Dental Group, told Daily Star: “Dental tourism has been on the rise for a number of years, with British patients believing they can perfect their smile at a reduced cost abroad.
“However, travelling for treatment carries a range of inherent risks, from a lack of regulation to botched procedures.
“Many clinics abroad don’t have to meet the same standards of hygiene and training as we do in the UK, so you can’t always be sure you’re in safe hands.
“There can also be a lack of proper aftercare and fine-tuning which is vital for major dental work, so you might not get the results you were promised. And the outcome might not last as long as expected.
“It can be tempting to let the cost of procedures such as veneers or orthodontic work dictate where you choose to get it done, but it can end up being a false economy and spelling disaster for your teeth.”
Dental tourism is the term which is given to the practice of flying abroad for dental treatment, whether it’s routine work or a cosmetic procedure.
It has soared in popularity in the past decade – rising from 48,000 patients in 2014 to 144,000 in 2016 according to latest figures.
Popular destinations for Brits include Turkey, Hungary, Spain, Greece, Ukraine and Slovakia.
Often patients will pay for a package that includes flights and accommodation as well as the procedure itself.
However, a lack of regulation and aftercare can leave patients with substandard work they then have to have corrected at home, leading to spiralling bills and months of suffering.
Dr Shakir said it’s important to take all factors into consideration when choosing where to have treatment, and not just the price.
He added: “Some people may feel that the cost of having a dental procedure at home is too high and therefore they look for cheaper options.
“However, price shouldn’t be the only consideration when it comes to your health.
“Clinics in the UK must subscribe to the highest standards of hygiene and care, and the reason it might be cheaper to go abroad for treatment is because foreign clinics don’t necessarily have to meet the same standards.
“It’s important to do your research on who will be carrying out your treatment and weigh up the possible benefits and risks to make sure you’re totally comfortable with your decision. Some treatments need a biological time to work, such as dental implants placed in the bone. To rush such procedures during a holiday break can result in devastating health issues”
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