Turkey Teeth: The Beauty Trend You Should Avoid

Turkey Teeth: The Beauty Trend You Should Avoid featured image
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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. According to HealthCare.com, more than 787,000 Americans were projected to travel for medical and dental treatments in 2022. This surpassed the pre-pandemic figure of 781,000 in 2019.

The “Zoom Boom” that famously sparked countless cosmetic procedures isn’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. Booking a vacation alongside a smile makeover might seem tempting, but experts share it may not the best choice for your teeth or wallet.

Featured Experts

  • Sonya Wintzell, DMD is a cosmetic dentist based in Huntsville, AL
  • Husam Almunajed, DMD is a cosmetic dentist based in New York City
  • Robert M. Klaich, DDS is a cosmetic dentist based in Cranberry Township, PA
  • Salvator J. La Mastra, DMD is a cosmetic dentist based in Dallas, TX
  • Joseph Field, DDS is a cosmetic dentist based in Los Altos, CA
  • Clive Rosenbusch, DDS is a cosmetic dentist based in Boca Raton, FL
  • Timothy Chase, DDS is a cosmetic dentist based in New York City

What does “Turkey Teeth” mean?

Turkey Teeth, as the name suggests, refers to a distinctive dental appearance that draws parallels to the beak of a turkey. This unconventional trend involves teeth that are overly white, unnaturally straight, and often overly large, resulting in an exaggerated, almost caricature-like smile. It’s a look that stands out but not necessarily in a good way.

It’s another way to say “Chiclet veneers,” a term used to describe veneers that are characterized by their large, flat, and uniformly white appearance. These veneers often lack the natural variations in color, shape, and translucency that mimic real teeth, resulting in a smile that looks unnatural.

At the heart of this trend lies an obsession with achieving teeth that are blindingly white and unnaturally uniform. The desire for a radiant smile is nothing new, but the Turkey Teeth trend takes it to extremes that have left many dental professionals concerned. “There are risks associated with medical tourism for dental work,” notes Boca Raton, FL cosmetic dentist Clive Rosenbusch, DDS. “This includes potential language barriers, difficulty evaluating credentials, lack of legal recourse, and complications from travel.”

Why are teeth so cheap in Turkey?

New York cosmetic dentist Timothy Chase, DDS says traveling overseas for medical procedures is always risky. And dental work is no exception he notes. “While it is possible to find competent dental treatment around the world, many countries lack the same training standards, licensing processes, continuing education, infection control and material regulations we do,” he says. 

“Material choices are the hallmark of long term and safe dentistry,” adds Huntsville, AL cosmetic dentist Sonya Wintzell, DMD. “If the price is significantly lower, anticipate that the quality of materials might be compromised. Similar to any purchase, there are durable materials and there are cheap, short-lived alternatives.”

“It may be attractive in price, but you often get what you pay for,” adds Dr. Rosenbusch. “There are more disadvantages than advantages. 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.” 

Irreparable Smile 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. “Rushed or poorly planned previous work can limit our ability to correct the situation,” he says. “This often leads to permanent loss of dental and gum anatomy, compromising precious tissue or causing infections.”

“Some patients regret getting dental work done abroad due to issues with the quality or the final result,” adds Dr. Chase. It’s best to prioritize getting smile makeovers done right from the start to save time, money and discomfort.” 

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 the money you will spend fixing inferior work will negate any savings. “You may think that you’re getting a better price, but having to pay twice if the work needs replaced or corrected will always cost you more.”

Fixing poorly done smile makeovers can involve various treatments tailored to address specific issues such as misalignment, discoloration, or faulty restorations. These may include orthodontic correction, dental bonding, veneers, teeth whitening or even full smile reconstruction if multiple issues are present.

Do ‘Turkey Teeth’ look fake?

In addition to the unregulated standards abroad, Dr. Field says there is a lack of artistry. “That’s kind of the joke with ‘Turkey Teeth’ in the dental community,” he says.

“The quality of work may be lower or the materials used inferior compared to more developed countries. The dentists in Turkey use aggressive tooth preparation techniques and cheap, opaque materials leading to an unnatural ‘Turkey Teeth’ appearance,” says Dallas cosmetic dentist Salvator J. La Mastra, DMD.

“It’s a very aggressive preparation of teeth. Not only are Turkey Teeth over-prepared, the lab work looks the same,” adds Dr. Field. “It’s done inexpensively, often resulting in overly white but artificial-looking teeth, emphasizing the adage that you get what you pay for.”

What to Do If You’re Unsatisfied With Your Smile Makeover Abroad

If you’re unhappy after a smile makeover abroad, it’s essential to seek assistance from a local qualified cosmetic dentist. Schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns and dissatisfaction with the results. Your dentist can evaluate your current smile, identify any issues or discrepancies, and recommend appropriate corrective measures.

Depending on the problems you’re experiencing, options may include replacing or adjusting existing dental work, such as veneers or crowns. Undergoing additional procedures, or pursuing a comprehensive smile makeover, can also address concerns. Open communication with your dentist is key, as it allows for a collaborative approach to regaining confidence in your smile.

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