Overseas Dental Tourism
The first in a series of articles on a journey for a new set of teeth from an overseas dentist to enjoy food again! As the canary in the coal mine, I hope this helps others looking to make that journey.
Growing up in Devonport, Tasmania, in the ’70s, I was fortunate enough to have free dental treatment up to 16. As such, my teeth were in reasonably good shape at that time. Moving through the years, I thought my dental hygiene was ok, but it wasn’t perfect. I brushed daily in the morning but drank, smoked, and ate way too many sweet things. It was in ’94 that I had to have my wisdom teeth out via the NHS under general anaesthetic. Quite an experience in its own right.
I remember the first tooth to go vividly, and it was when I was teaching in East London in ’96. I would always venture on school trips to Disneyland in Paris. This time I had a toothache starting on the bus on the way over. Wow, the pain for the entire weekend! Upon return, straight to the dodgy dentist on Barking Road, out it came and almost instant relief. This should have sent me messages that my teeth were not as indestructible as I thought.
“If I knew I would live this long, I would have looked after my teeth better!”
Sticking with my poor dental hygiene of brushing only in the mornings, it was a good few years before the teeth started to drop out at a higher rate. In my late 30’s early 40’s, things began to go pear-shaped inside my mouth. I remember returning to the UK when I had to get a few more teeth out. Only a few years later, I had the last of my top molars except one left. Although by this time, I’d improved my dental hygiene by brushing before bed with an electric toothbrush and seeing a dental hygienist every six months (or so).
My expensive UK hygienist was keen to look into crowns and transplants and gave me some round costs figures. From memory, it was closing in on £20k, which doesn’t give me back a full mouth of teeth. He did talk me into getting x-rays and said I’d need a bone graft 12 months before getting the crowns. I’d managed to get by with ‘filler’ teeth for my missing front teeth, and my single top molar was still going (I managed to cook my steaks tender).
Covid-19 came into the frame and stopped me from seeing my hygienist, which was a blessing as he did irritate me with his constant belittling and persuasion for crowns. So my teeth seemed to be just about ok. I’d tried dentures but accidentally threw them in a bin (I wouldn’t say I liked wearing them much anyway). Mid 50’s, and I’m thinking, why invest £20k in a mouth full of teeth that I may only use for another 15-20 years, hoping I live that long?
But if I can get a decent deal overseas, I might be able to eat steak again without any worries! Given my single top molar was starting to grizzle and complain, it was time to act.
Where Do I go?
The most critical question is, if I’m not going to use a dentist in the UK (or Australia), which country should I go to?
Now, to address the ‘if you go overseas, you will get a dodgy dentist’ theory. A very good friend in Australia had a lot of money and spent quite a bit on getting his teeth done (crown implants). It seemed that every 3-6 months, he had to go back to his regular dentist, who had done the work and spent more money to alleviate his pain. You can get dodgy dentists in any country, and admittedly it might be a higher probability in a developing country. The mitigation is clearly to put a significant amount of research and study in place.
There are quite a few destinations for dental tourists from the USA, UK and other developed nations, and the usual practice would be to travel to more local countries where one lives. There is a good article on the choice of countries here. My initial list was relatively small; as we had friends in Hungary and Turkey, these would be the starting points. However, I am also politically motivated, so I wasn’t thrilled with these countries’ almost apologetic approach to Putin and the war in Ukraine. Since Erdoğan managed to broker the grain deal, Turkey was back in my good books.
Starting my research sparked the relative Facebook feed advertisements coming through. I was intrigued and began reading through the adverts specific to Turkey.
Soon after, I had a gentlemen reach out to me from a group page he had set up. Antalya and Izmir, Turkey Dentistry Questions and answers. You should be able to look for similar pages once you have decided on the country you are going to. Reading through the comments, I saw the ‘nightmare’ stories, the repair shops these folks would go to, and other relevant, helpful information.
Things to ask your dentist or coordinator before having implants or crowns.
What guarantees come with the crowns and implants?
Please let me know what information you need to ensure you give me the correct treatment.
Can you give me a choice of treatments with a recommendation?
What makes of the implant are you going to use?
What type of material is used on my crowns?
Do you know if my temp teeth will be fixed, or can they be set?
How long will the whole process take?
How many visits will I have to make?
Are hotel and transportation included?
Do I get a discount for cash?
Can I book my hotel and save £££?
Can I have permanents without fake gums?
Will my permanents be like a denture?
Are crowns cemented onto the implant or screwed onto it?
Who or what dentist will be doing my work?
Can I have copies of X-rays and documents of all procedures done?
Will my crowns happen individually?
The Short List
Our friends live in Fethiye, and the clinic that took my fancy there was Dental Centre Turkey. Then spending time on the Facebook group reading comments and asking questions, I fancied Fatma Kuvvetli and the recommendation of Perla Dental. You will have to wait for my next instalment to find out whom I went with!