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Dentistry abroad – the safest option

How safe is dentistry abroad? Funny enough, the question I hear the most from potential patients after “How much will the dental treatment cost” is “Can I trust your clinic/dentist” or something along those lines.

Where you travel abroad and which dental clinic you choose, is a much more important factor on the “safety” of the whole dental procedure abroad than how much you end up paying, I’m sure.

However, there are a number of things that you can do beforehand to make sure that you are getting the best quality dental treatment while enjoying the affordable prices offered by dental clinics abroad. After 5 years of dealing with 1000’s of British patients seeking treatment abroad at our UK Dental Clinic in Slovakia, here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • Firstly, when checking out the various dental treatment providers on the internet, make sure that you are dealing directly with the dental clinic and not an agent or go-between. Then check (by reading their emails to you) if the person that you are actually communicating with has good knowledge of the treatment you requested and is ideally an actual member of the clinics’ staff. There are so many former patients or “want to be” entrepreneurs hoping to make cash on the side by setting up medical tourism websites, advertisements and promotion for the clinic, but they are no substitute for a qualified dental professional or on-site staff who understand exactly just what the clinic can and cannot do. You’ll also then feel comfortable speaking with these members of the team once you are in the dental clinic in case any misunderstandings occur.
  • There are countries and clinics within a 1-2hr flight from the UK that have been doing excellent dentistry for at least a decade, and not just jumping on the “medical tourism” trend to make some extra cash. These certainly include central European countries such as Slovakia, the Czech republic, Poland and Hungary. There are obviously talented, capable dentists worldwide, but personally I would choose a dental clinic well used to dealing with patients from abroad, in a country that’s close to the UK, just in case I needed to make a quick return visit to make adjustments to the dental treatment / work, of course, under a solid guarantee that I would demand from any dental clinic that I had extensive treatment in. It’s certainly not cheap and easy to jump on a quick flight to Timbuktu for a 30 minute bite adjustment to newly fitted tooth crowns!
  • Another benefit of choosing a clinic within the EU, is that you are covered free of charge by your European Health Insurance Card if you should need emergency treatment and also the laws covering general dentistry are roughly the same in all member states. Check the dentists’ and the clinics credentials. For my clinic in Piestany, Slovakia, for example, we have copies of all the legal documents concerning the clinic and dentist on our web site. They should also be displayed within the clinics premises.
  • The clinic should have some affiliation with an international or at least a British dental organisation. That’s one reason why I joined up with the BACD (the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) and had our clinic accredited by a British independent medical authority. This ensures that the clinic and doctor is trusted outside of his country as a quality provider of dentistry.
  • Not only should you think about the safety of having treatment abroad but also having a safe, stress-free journey. A trustworthy clinic will certainly pick you up personally from the airport and take you directly to the dental clinic or your local accommodation, to save you from getting lost and the stress of organizing yourself in a foreign country where many people may not speak much English.
  • Carrying large amounts of money around may not be the safest thing to do. If you are going to visit a clinic for dentistry abroad, make sure that you verify your mode of payment beforehand. Most clinics prefer cash, so check if you can pay it in stages across each visit. Check if a bank transfer is possible as well as credit card payments.
  • Don’t make the mistake of rushing the treatment time. It’s not worth hindering the success of the dental treatment. Always allow an extra days’ holiday somewhere nearby the clinic, should adjustments need to be made and for peace of mind. If any pain occurs after treatment, it’s most likely to be in the 48hrs after treatment, and you’ll be happy to know that your dentist is still nearby on call during your recovery period.
  • During your dental treatment abroad you don’t want to have communication barriers concerning the treatment and outcome you desire. Make sure that the dentists or the personnel are able to speak fluent English, or even better, employ British staff as we do in our clinic. A good way to check this out is to see how well the emails are written (without too many grammar mistakes) or even call the clinic to check on their language skills.
  • Make sure that a solid guarantee is offered. It’ll give you peace of mind to know that in the unlikely case that the dental work may fail, you can still return to have the dental work adjusted or repaired free of charge.

Having dental treatment done in a foreign country might seem to be the “unsafe” option at first, but the results are well worth it due to the low costs, time saving treatments and high quality dentistry available abroad. However, putting your personal health and safety ahead of choosing an idyllic holiday resort with a questionable clinic is not worth the risk. Follow the ideas above, and you’ll be in safe hands during your dental holiday.

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