Experts urge caution as many patients seek overseas dental treatments to save on cost

Dental tourism is booming again after the pandemic, with many Irish people choosing to travel abroad for treatment – most commonly to Turkey.

arlier this year it was reported that dental clinics across Europe have noted a surge in bookings from Irish customers since the lifting of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Yesterday the Irish Independent revealed huge variations in cost for people seeking dental work in Ireland – and the price difference can be even greater when travelling abroad.

Mary Flanagan, the Irish representative for Kreativ Dental in Budapest, wants to break the stigma that dental practices abroad are not of the same quality as in Ireland.

Ms Flanagan’s experience at Kreativ Dental was a success, having had her implants for 18 years and never having had an issue with them. She is now helping patients with travel, appointments, liaising with the clinic and aftercare help.

“I love it because I have been to the clinic, I have done it, I trust in them, I believe in them and for people going over I know I am sending them to a good clinic,” she said.

But she believes an aftercare service in Ireland is an important factor to look into when travelling abroad for dental work, in the unfortunate case that something goes wrong.

“I believe every dentist abroad should have an aftercare dentist in Ireland, because if something goes wrong it puts patients at ease that they don’t have to travel to get a check-up,” she said.

Ms Flanagan believes that since the lifting of Covid restrictions, the demand for dental work abroad has increased.

“There is a demand with people going abroad now to get their teeth done… in February or March this year the demand became huge, and I mean huge,” she said.

“The price does play a huge part in why people go abroad, let’s be honest, but in saying that I really do believe that Kreativ Dental would not be in business as long as it has been if the quality wasn’t good.”

Fintan Hourihan, the CEO of the Irish Dental Association, said that before going abroad, people should consult with their local dentist.

“We do think that there are the highest standards of dental care here in Ireland, but what we would say to members of the public is to make an appointment with their local dentist to find out precisely what they need as opposed to what they may think they need,” he said.

“Secondly the dental council has a website, dentalcouncil.ie, that has a very good document on choosing your dentist, whether it’s here in Ireland or abroad.”

According to Mr Hourihan, the Irish Dental Association has not been made aware of any increase in the numbers of people travelling for dental work and is concerned by some of the dental treatment people receive abroad.

“We are not aware of an increased interest in dental care abroad, though it is possible this notion is being promoted by commercial interests who are seeking to generate business. Dental tourism, like medical tourism generally, is a fact of life in every developed country, and some people travel to Ireland for specialist dental work.

“The Irish Dental Association is concerned about the results many Irish persons have experienced where they have chosen to travel for dental care in other countries and urges people to discuss their oral health with a dentist at home first before making any decisions on their dental care.

“We need to encourage people who may be travelling abroad to focus on the quality of work they receive and whether that work is really necessary, not just the price of that work.”

He wants to encourage people considering travelling abroad to look at the Dental Council’s guidance booklet on choosing the right dentist.

“We would encourage those considering travel to review the very helpful guidance produced by the Dental Council, the regulatory body charged with protecting patients in receipt of dental care,” he said.

“More than three out of four Irish dentists had treated patients for problems arising from treatment they received abroad, according to a survey we conducted in 2009.

“Of 440 dentists questioned, 76pc said that over the past 12 months they had seen patients who underwent cheaper procedures overseas. Problems included too much dental work being done over too short a timeframe, unnecessary work and poor materials being used by dentists abroad.”

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