Dental Tourism/Overseas Dentistry
We understand that dental treatment is not always financially feasible for all patients. It can be tempting to go to a foreign country and take a vacation and get dental treatment while away for cheaper than what the dental treatment alone would cost in Canada or the United States. Unfortunately, you seem to get what you pay for in many cases. Dental education and treatment standards are not consistent among countries, and we have even spoken to patients who have had treatment completed by dentists in foreign countries who claim to have been trained in the United States, but have provided treatment that was far from acceptable by Canadian standards. It is extremely difficult for patients to evaluate a dentist’s qualifications and the actual materials used by the clinician. We have also seen family members treated by the same dentist in a foreign country who have received significantly different results; so a referral from a friend doesn’t always mean you are going to get what they did.
In the case of crown and bridgework, we have observed the use of substandard materials that can be very aesthetic but are softer and weaker than the materials commonly used in Canada. The fabrication of crown and bridgework abroad is not typically done to Canadian standards, resulting in a fit which is far from precise. Although this is acceptable abroad, the result is treatment that is prone to fracture, decay and often results in significant gum inflammation.
In the case of implants, there are countless companies all over the world fabricating dental implants that may or may not be approved for use in North America. We only use reputable companies, internationally recognized as leaders in the field. As the major implant companies are international organizations, their prices are fairly similar in different countries. Ways to reduce costs are to use potentially lower quality implants or expired implant components from the major manufacturers that are available on the black market for a dramatically lower cost. If a patient has an implant placed in a foreign country that is not available in Canada, then components to restore the implant may not be available when you return home.
Ultimately the decision is yours whether or not to seek treatment in Canada or abroad. Complication rates appear to be significantly higher with dental treatment is provided outside of Canada; so take into consideration the costs of correcting improperly done dental treatment and the risk of having unknown materials placed in your body with little or no recourse if complications do occur. Some complications are easily fixed but many times, irreparable damage is done to the dentition, gums and jawbone when significant dental treatment is completed abroad.