Dental Implants Abroad

By:
Rob DeVerger
|
November 9, 2021
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Dental Implants
Dental Implants in other countries

Dental Implants Abroad

With Travel restrictions being reduced and more people traveling abroad, and that means people are looking for deals on dental implants in other countries.  In recent years, implant dentistry has grown into an increasingly popular type of medical tourism. This new trend in dental implant treatment involves travel outside of the local healthcare system to receive services at a substantially lower cost. Most people will wait until the end of their vacation to have the procedure done so that they may make the most out of their trip. The majority of dental tourism implants in advertisements target Americans for treatment in Mexico or Costa Rico and Australians for treatment in Thailand or India.  It has been suggested that the industry of dental tourism is expected to increase by 12% more in 2021. Over the years, the industry is constantly expanding and moving forward. Now, people are more inclined than before to visit top dental tourism destinations like Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, Philippines and Malaysia just because they feel they get the same value at a lower price.

Dental Tourism Implants Cost Abroad

Tooth implant procedures and restorative crowns in the United States ranges from $2,500-$5,000 per tooth but in Mexico, the treatment is no more than $3,000 total. Similarly in Australia, a single tooth implant and crown range from $4,500 to $7,000 compared to an average of $3,500 in Thailand. Those considering the Ao4 denture implants for $20,000-$30,000 in one of the more highly developed countries can receive start-to-finish treatment for $12,000 in Thailand, $10,000 in Costa Rico, $8,000 in Mexico, and an astonishing $6,000 in India.

One of the major drawbacks to this type of dental tourism treatment is the complete lack of pricing transparency. In the United States and similarly well-developed countries the first step of the treatment is a consultation using CT diagnostics or a clinical examination in a dental chair. The dental implant costs are determined by the doctor based on the case complexity and specific needs of the patient. This quote typically covers more than it appears to because it is backed by the guarantee of follow-through and remediation of any issues that may arise.

Some surgeries like all-inclusive jaw restoration in the United States, for example, is most likely to include particular drugs and quantities that are necessary to push through the IV to keep the patient comfortable as well as any bone graft material that is necessary to place around the tooth implants to help them heal. However, a similarly described “all-inclusive” treatment overseas is likely to include local anaesthesia, four cheap dental implants, and a set of implant-supported dentures. The treatment is delivered in the most basic, low-grade form or additional necessary services are added once the patient arrives and the associated fees are tacked on, bringing the price closer to the original estimate received at home.

Safety and Security

Travel insurance policies will not cover the cost of medical recourse to a complication if it is the result of an elective or cosmetic treatment and the treating dentist cannot be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the sedation drugs or dental materials. Even after returning home safely with low-cost implants, minor developments can turn into major issues without the proper attention from the treating doctor.

Something like a scab under an implant bridge would be noticed and addressed before the patient even notices it during a routine post-op appointment, but without proper follow up care the scab could create pressure between the healthy tissue and the bridge, causing tissue death. Another example is when one of the tooth implants is not as tight as it should be it can be left alone rather than attached to the implant-supported denture during the immediate post-op period. Once the dental implant has healed enough to help support the implant-supported denture it can be attached a month or two later. This is a common precaution taken by doctors to ensure successful dental implant integration but when additional appointments are not an option, the weaker implant will be attached and the doctor will just hope for the best.

Aside from the long list of potential surgical complications that can develop as a result of the complete lack of follow up care, dental tourists lose the opportunity to make changes to the design of the smile and bite before receiving their permanent teeth which are intended to last a lifetime. Any desired changes must be completed back at home at the patient’s expense.

Regulations and Credibility

Something very important to keep in mind is that in the United States, sterilization standards are maintained by OSHA and materials are regulated by the FDA. In addition, Doctors are required to pay for malpractice insurance and ongoing educational programs to maintain status and certification. None of these laws or standards exists in the less-developed countries, making treatment more affordable but also making it much easier for the doctors to ignore moral obligations to take care of their patients.

Lack of Proper materials

Some dentist abroad may cut corners on costs and One way that some dentists might reduce their costs is to use inferior quality materials. This will cut costs obviously, but the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies here. Implants have to be made from specific materials to allow the osseointegration process to occur (where the bone and implant fuse together). If cheaper materials are used, however skilled the dentist is, this process is unlikely to be as successful and could result in an unstable implant that will fail in the not so distant future.

Risk of underqualified dentist

Excellent dentist exsist all over the world, so finding a good one internationally is possible. In less regulated areas of the world though, there may well be some who are only partially qualified at best. We would definitely recommend that you avoid using dentists in parts of the less developed world, however cheap they appear to be. Even in more advanced countries, the regulations and qualifications to become a dentist can differ. This means that they may not match the standard of oral care that you are used to in the UK. As placing dental implants is complex, this should give cause for concern.

Language Barrier

When a person visits one of our Nuvia centers, One thing that most patients appreciate is our friendly chair side manner and a willingness to explain what is about to happen during the procedure. We find that this puts most people at ease and, of course, we are always happy to answer questions at this time. This could be a problem abroad, depending on the language skills of the dentist involved. Whilst some might have excellent English language skills, this is not always the case. Being unable to explain something may well make you more anxious about your treatment and indeed, communication during the procedure is important too; something that is difficult if there are issues around language.

Aftercare Concerns

Although dental implant placements have a very high success rate in the U.S. , any surgical treatment can potentially have problems that require follow up care afterwards. Even without this, U.S. dentists will always monitor the treatment and be available if you have any concerns.

If there are any issues with your new implant, they are likely to occur a few days or weeks later when you are back in the U.S. If a procedure is done locally, a person could just get in their car or travel on the bus for an appointment.  A follow up visit to a dentist abroad will most likely involve a flight and hotel accommodations and booking the followup, so a person is planning another week long trip.  This obviously adds significantly to the overall cost of your treatment and makes it much less viable financially. In addition to that, if the problem is due to substandard treatment or materials, do you really want to go back to the dentist where it happened?  You may not be able to have follow-up aftercare locally either. Many dentists are reluctant to deal with the aftermath of an inferior treatment that was done elsewhere.

Our advice then would be to recommend that you don’t go abroad for your dental implant treatment, however cheap and tempting it may be. Your oral health is important and not something to be gambled with. We do understand that for some people, cost is an issue and we can help our Nuvia patients with financing options.  Dental tourism can be an affordable way to receive treatment that would otherwise be out of budget, but a limited budget is all the more reason not to gamble with your health and savings.