Before you commit to travelling abroad for dental treatment, it’s important you are fully aware of what to expect and what risks are involved.
You may know how to raise concerns about your dental treatment in the UK but are you familiar with the process in a foreign country?
What you do before going abroad for treatment (that is, research regarding the treatment, costings and questions to ask) applies equally to being treated here in the UK. If you are going to have elaborate (and expensive) treatment, you should always research the matter before hand. Similarly, the questions that you ask about foreign treatment apply equally to treatment here in the UK.
The General Dental Council (GDC) is the UK dental regulator; all dental professionals must be registered with the GDC to work in the UK. The GDC sets the standards that all registered dentists in the UK must adhere to. The GDC can’t guarantee another organisation like it exists in other countries or even that the standards will be the same as they are here in the UK.
The GDC recommends that you do as much research as you can and find out the facts before you go to ensure your treatment abroad meets your expectations.
Dental regulation is likely to vary from country to country, so it’s a good idea to do some initial research on where your planned treatment will take place.
Does that country have a professional dental regulatory body?
Is it compulsory for dental professionals to be registered with them?
You can find out about health regulators and professional bodies in other countries by visiting www.healthregulation. org.
If there is a regulatory body, you will want to visit their website to find out about the standards they enforce, what qualifications dental professionals must have and who to contact if you have a complaint about your treatment.
Some overseas clinics will have a UK base offering initial consultations in this country before you travel abroad for treatment. Others may offer free consultations if you’re prepared to travel.
The initial consultation is your chance to ask as many questions as possible so you can feel safe and confident in your decision.
You should always be assessed by a qualified dentist before being given a treatment plan and cost estimate.
If your consultation is in the UK, be sure to ask if the dentist is registered with the GDC. If they aren’t, they are working illegally and should not be practising in the UK.
You can check if a dentist is registered with the GDC by visiting the GDC website, and searching the online register or by calling the GDC on 0845 222 4141.
As part of your initial consultation, the dentist assessing you should ask about your:
full medical history
any serious illnesses in the past
any chronic medical condition
any drugs / medications you are taking
whether you smoke and
if you’ve had surgery or a general anaesthetic in the past.
It’s always a good idea to speak to your own dentist before considering travelling abroad for your dental treatment as they may be able to offer advice based on your dental history.
Your own dentist will also need to be aware of your plans in case of any later complications and also the ongoing care of the dental implants when you have come back from abroad.
Questions To Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, even if they seem blunt or obvious.
If you are not happy with the answers you are given, don’t feel you have to commit to anything that day.
Go home and do some more research until you feel confident that all your questions have been answered.
You may also want to talk to other patients who have travelled abroad for dental treatment by visiting online groups and fora (the GDC have suggested www.treatmentabroad.com).
Some of the questions you may want to ask are:
Who will be carrying out my treatment and what qualifications do they have?
Will the dental team speak English? If not, will you provide a translator on the day of the procedure?
Do you have any references or testimonials from previous patients?
How many times have you carried out the procedure I am having?
What are the rates of success, complication, readmission and infection?
Are you regulated by a professional body and do you have to be registered with them?
Is the work guaranteed for a certain period of time?
What aftercare do you provide?
What happens if I am unhappy with the results?
Who pays for the extra flights, hotel and remedial work?
If there are complications and I need further treatment, is this included in the initial cost?
Do you have insurance to cover this procedure?
Do you have a complaints system in place? Can I see a copy of it?
Who can I contact for advice after the treatment?
If the dentist claims to be a specialist, it’s also important to ask whether they can back this up. In the UK, the GDC holds lists of dentists entitled to use the title ‘specialist’.
Entry onto these lists is only granted if a dentist meets certain minimum standards of training. You may want to find out if you can expect the same standards of training from the dentist who will be carrying out your treatment abroad.