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. Booking an exotic vacation alongside a smile makeover might seem tempting, but experts who’ve treated patients with disappointing results highlight why it’s not the best choice for your teeth or your wallet.
What Are Turkey Teeth?
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.
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.
Turkey Teeth + 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 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 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.”
“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.”
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.”
The “Turkey Teeth” Veneers 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 done inexpensively, often resulting in overly white but artificial-looking teeth, emphasizing the adage that you get what you pay for.”