Healthcare tourism is a thing. People are traveling outside the U.S. to find less expensive options for joint replacement surgeries, cancer treatment, and you guessed it . . . dental work. We cannot speak for other areas of medicine, but we can tell you that in the realm of dentistry, it is not such a great idea.
The most common places that we hear of people traveling for less expensive dental treatments are Mexico and India. In fact, if you walk across the border from Brownsville, Texas, into Matamoros, Mexico, the streets are lined with dental office after dental office. There is no question that dental care is much cheaper over the border. So why is it a bad idea?
Poor Quality of Work
The biggest complaint that we have against dental work from other countries that is “cheaper” is that it does not meet our minimum standard of care. The most common dental treatment we see from Mexico is a crown. These crowns typically do not have a sealed margin against the tooth, leaving it open to bacterial contamination and future cavities. The fit is poor, and the shape is often too bulky and uncomfortable in the patient’s mouth.
We are not saying that it is impossible to get good quality dental work in other countries. In fact, there are countries like Japan and Germany that are known for extremely high-quality care. However, if your specific aim in seeking international dentistry is to find the cheapest option, it is more likely that you will receive lower quality work. Unfortunately, you typically do get what you pay for.
Fewer Regulations on Dental Materials
In order to provide less expensive dental treatments, international dentists often use low quality dental materials. In the case of dental crowns, the metal substructure often contains base metals like Nickel, which has a very high risk for allergic or inflammatory reactions in the gum tissues. Materials may not have passed testing for safety because their country does not require clearance by the FDA or other safety boards.
No Follow-Up Care
When you travel a long distance for dental treatments, it is unlikely that you plan to continue seeing the same dentist, requiring repeated long trips, for follow-up care. At Prosper Family Dentistry, we believe that following a consistent schedule for dental evaluations with the same few dentists and dental hygienists gives you the highest chance of excellent long-term oral health. The relationship you build with your dentist leads to quick recognition of changes in your oral health, new risk factors that change your risk for dental diseases, and the ability to provide preventive options to stop disease before it starts.
When you go overseas for dental treatment, there’s no focus on prevention or maintenance.
Little Recourse against Failing Dental Work
When you have international dental work that does fail, what can you do about it? Taking legal action across international borders is expensive and will end up costing more than you would have spent if you’d had the dental work performed locally. That is if you can find someone willing to take on an international malpractice case. Again, the cost of travel may prohibit you from returning to the dentist who performed the failing work and request a re-do or a refund.
The Importance of Great Dentistry
Having healthy teeth that function well is essential to your overall health. Because of their role in eating, speaking and laughing, healthy teeth are also essential to a good quality of life. When you invest in dental work to maintain dental health and repair dental problems, the quality of the dental work matters. Just as important as the quality of the work is the consistency of the dental care. Seeing the same dentists and dental hygienists on a consistent basis lowers your long-term risk for dental diseases.
Questions about How to Fit the Care You Need into Your Budget?
Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara. First, we will assess your current situation and help you understand what problems, if any, you have. Then we discuss your options to stop dental disease from progressively getting worse. Our business office team members are experts at helping you figure out financially arrangements that will allow you to get the dental care you need.