If you’ve noticed a lot more people traveling for dental work these days, it’s because they are. After COVID-related lockdowns a few years ago, the desire to improve facial features is bigger than ever says Los Altos, CA cosmetic dentist Joseph Field, DDS. The “Zoom Boom” that famously sparked countless cosmetic procedures issn’t just relegated to cosmetic surgery. Smile makeovers have seen a big boost, too. “A few years ago, Mexico was a big hotspot for low-cost smile makeovers and veneers,” says Dr. Field. “Today, we’re seeing the rise of “Turkey Teeth.”
According to the Turkish Dental Association, 150,000 to 250,000 foreigners travel to Turkey each year for dental work. While it may seem appealing to book an exotic vacation alongside a smile makeover, the experts who’ve treated patients that come back with subpar results say there are more than a few reasons why it’s not the best plan for your teeth or your pocketbook.
1. Quality Control
New York cosmetic dentist Timothy Chase, DDS says traveling overseas for medical procedures is always risky and dental work is no exception. “While it is possible to find competent dental treatment in many places around the world, many countries lack the same training standards, licensing processes, continuing education requirements, infection control safeguards and material regulations found in America,” he explains.
“Material choices are the hallmark of long term and safe dentistry,” adds Huntsville, AL cosmetic dentist Sonya Wintzell, DMD. “If the price is substantially lower you can expect the quality of materials to be one of the areas compromised. Just like any thing we purchase there are materials meant to last and materials meant to be cheap.”
“It may be attractive in price, but you often get what you pay for,” adds Boca Raton, FL cosmetic dentist Clive Rosenbusch, DDS. “There are more disadvantages than advantages and this year alone I have seen a few patients who have had major work done overseas that I’ve advised to have the work redone.”
2. Costly Revisions
“For many patients, having a smile makeover can be an exciting, one-time experience,” shares Cranberry Township, PA cosmetic dentist Robert M. Klaich, DDS. Dr. Klaich notes that while you may save a few dollars by going abroad, the money you spend fixing inferior work will negate it. “You may think that you’re getting a new smile for a better price, but having to pay twice if the work needs replaced or corrected will always cost you more.”
3. Irreparable Damage
New York cosmetic dentist Husam Almunajed, DMD says one of the biggest concerns with dental tourism is the long-term risk of damaging your teeth. “Previous work that fails because it was rushed or not planned well puts limitations to what we can do to correct the situation,” he says. “The anatomy of the teeth, gums and supporting bone many times is lost forever, and sound tissue that is precious is compromised or sometimes infected.”
4. The “Chiclet Teeth” Aesthetic
In addition to the unregulated standards abroad, Dr. Field says there is a lack of artistry he’s observed with many of the low-cost overseas work he’s come across. “That’s kind of the joke with ‘Turkey Teeth’ in the dental community,” he says. “It’s a very aggressive preparation of teeth. Not only are the teeth over-prepared, all of the lab work looks the same. It’s very cheaply done, very opaque and monochromatic.” While you may end up with very white teeth, they may end up looking cheap and artificial, which goes to show you really do get what you pay for.
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