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Is ‘dental tourism’ worth the risk?

Is ‘dental tourism’ worth the risk?

Need crowns or an implant or two and heard about the growing trend of ‘dental tourism’?

How to have fabulous teeth at any age

Well, your answer could be Asia. Specifically, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. WYZA® reader Phil Hawkes shares his personal experience.

Why should you consider ‘dental tourism’? From my very recent experience, you can afford to have all your dental work done at roughly one-third of the cost, and enjoy a holiday at the same time in Thailand or Malaysia. And still come out ahead, if you fly there with a low-cost carrier like Scoot or Air Asia.

Those horror stories

Sound too good to be true? In some cases, you’d be absolutely right. It doesn’t work for everyone. We’ve heard horror stories about crowns falling out, implants that are made with human bone [the mind boggles] and choppers that are so bleached that they’re scary.

Those outcomes can happen in Australia, too. You can be unlucky with your choice of dentist wherever you are in the world. I’ve had some awful experiences here, and some good ones in places like Poland and England.

But to be specific, Kuala Lumpur is at the top of our list for high class dental work.

Should you get dental work done overseas?

We [and our friends] have found standards in Kuala Lumpur can be better than in Australia, again if you know where to go. We know a woman who was quoted $47,000 in Brisbane for what amounted to, basically an entire new mouth. Implants, crowns, gum repair, the works. After getting the quote, she almost had another medical problem. . . a heart attack.

So on a recommendation from a friend, she had the whole lot done in Kuala Lumpur for $17,000, plus the cost of three trips including several days in Penang while waiting, for about $3,000. Total: just over $20,000. And a perfect job.

The irony was that the dentist obtained his Masters degree in Brisbane! Also, his clinic had state-of-the-art equipment which she’d never seen in Australia.

A not so good experience in bangkok

Our recent experience was somewhat different. We rocked up in Bangkok, were met by a driver at the airport, and spirited away to an apartment building owned by a dental clinic. A free night there, and next morning to the clinic. After a long wait, we were “interviewed” by the head of the clinic and after rejecting offers of extra services like “deep cleaning” and “ultra whitening”, we were placed in the tender care of two female dentists who looked about 16 years old.

Well, they were pretty competent and did the basics adequately [two crowns for each of us] but the place was a bit chaotic and worse, my wife developed an infection which took days of antibiotics to clear up. Other people we know, who’ve been to the same clinic, had no such problems. So you can be unlucky.

The cost in Bangkok was about the same as in Kuala Lumpur and was two crowns for $1,200 including the accommodation and airport transfers.

The lesson

Do your research carefully and read the testimonials online. Better still, ask your friends who may have had personal experience. Then, book cheap flights and enjoy your holiday for free Compared with paying $1,500 per crown, or more, in Australia minus whatever you can manage to extract from the private health insurer. However, be very careful before making a decision and always ensure you are covered by travel insurance.

Be aware

The Australian Dental Association warn that getting complex dental treatment overseas can come at a very high cost. Australian dentists are appropriately trained to deal with dental emergencies. Consider this before thinking of going overseas to get your dental work.

Written by Phil Hawkes. Republished with permission of Wyza.com.au.