New guidance for dental tourism

New guidance and advice for UK residents considering dental treatment abroad has been issued by the General Dental Council in association with the oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation.

"We think it's important for dental patients - wherever they receive their treatment - to know the questions to ask to ensure they receive the best possible treatment and care, and where they can go if something goes wrong," explained GDC chief executive and registrar Duncan Rudkin.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the BDHF, noted: "The National Dental Survey 2008 found that 16 per cent of people would be willing to travel abroad for dental treatment and the figure was even higher among the 18 to 30 age group - suggesting the trend will continue. Styles and standards of dentistry can vary a great deal from one country to another and, if things do go wrong, patients could still be left facing some difficult and potentially expensive decisions. However, by researching their chosen practitioner and asking the right questions they can reduce the chances of encountering potentially avoidable problems further down the line."

The GDC and the BDHF recommend that people not be afraid to ask searching questions regarding prospective dental treatment.

Suggested questions include: 

  • Who will be carrying out my treatment and what qualifications do they have?
  • Will the dental team speak English?
  • Are there any testimonials from previous patients?
  • How many times have you carried out the procedures I am having?
  • What are the rates of success, complication, readmission and infection?
  • Are you regulated by or registered with any professional body?
  • Is the work guaranteed?
  • What aftercare do you provide?
  • If I am unhappy, who pays for extra flights, hotel, and remedial work?
  • Does the cost include any future complications?
  • Is this work insured?
  • Do you have a complaints system?
  • Who do I contact for advice afterwards?
  • Are you qualified for this specialist work?

While well-meaning, if you asked all those questions of a UK dentist you would be sent away with a flea in your ear.

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