It is obvious that the primary worry for most medical travelers that go abroad looking for dental care is the chance of something going wrong. Anyone who has ever suffered from a toothache and has had it be a very painful distraction knows just how bad they can get. As such, it is easy to see why a person seeking dental care may be carious about the possibility of a painful or even a generally negative result of the treatment.
Even though there are millions of medical travelers that go abroad each year without suffering any ill effects of their treatments, it is still important to weigh out the pros and the cons before going on a medical journey of your own. It is important to be aware of the good, the bad and even the ugly sides of medical travel. This will prepare you for whatever happens, allowing you to take appropriate measures and make sure all your bases are fully covered.
What Can Go Wrong?
It is important to note that all dental procedures have a certain amount of risk tied to them. No medical or dental procedure can ever guarantee 100 percent success, regardless of where in the world you have it or how much money you spend on it.
Furthermore, each person recovers at a different rate and we all feel pain in our own way. The good news is that, assuming you’ve chosen a good dentist, most of the usual things that can go wrong are fairly minor and easy to deal with. This includes excessive swelling and infections, which can happen due to the response of our own body instead of the treatment itself being at fault.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the fact that, in most cases, a tooth that has undergone repairs will never be as strong as it once was and will always have a weakness, which can lead to further issues down the line. It is also possible that the fix you receive, such as a filling, won’t last all that long. This also may not necessarily be the issue with the dentist you’ve chosen or the materials they’ve used.
Furthermore, while somethings things don’t go actually wrong, the outcome may not be exactly what you thought it would be. This is especially true with cosmetic procedures. As such, it is very important to keep your expectations to a realistic level regarding the final outcome of the procedure. No matter how skilled and expensive your dentist of choice may be, fixing that one crooked tooth probably won’t give you a smile like Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts.
Of course, the absoluste worst case scenario is mistakenly choosing a dentist who lacks the necessary skills and does a poor job with your teeth. Luckily, despite the media reports that highlight these terrible results, such cases are few and far between and are the exception to the rule.
What Can I Do If Something Does Go Wrong?
The first thing you should do if you notice any negative results following a dental procedure abroad is to get in touch with your dentist or the agency you’ve used as soon as possible and discuss the concerns you may have. If you’re still abroad, you should still easily be able to return to your dentist who can then explain to you that everything is going as planned or address the issue if it actually exists. That said, if you’ve already returned to your home country, you may have to decide if it’s worth it going back.
If talking to your dentist or the agency you’ve used and addressing the issue doesn’t resolve it, your next step is filing a complaint with the local, regional or even a national dental association and checking if they can do anything on your behalf. If that doesn’t resolve your issue either, your only other solution may be a legal claim. Keep in mind, though – legal claims will be governed by the laws of the country you’ve visited, not your own. This may cause a whole slew of other issues as understanding your rights and recourse under the law can be challenging even at home, let alone in a foreign country.
The best thing any dental traveler can do to minimize the risks is to take certain steps before their voyage as well as one step following the procedure.
Minimize Your Risk
You can use this fairly simple checklist to improve the likelihood of a positive outcome for the dental procedures you’ve chosen abroad:
Learn about your treatment. Research as much as you can about the procedures you’ve chosen before you make any decisions. Then make sure you ask your dentist questions about that procedure before you make any decisions regarding booking the appointment. Make sure you ask about any issues, your own compatibility, including the effects of any other medical conditions you may have on the outcome as well as what you’ll need to know once the procedure is done. Furthermore, do not forget to arrange a proper aftercare, be it in the country you’re visiting or back home, in case that is needed.
You also need to check the credentials of the clinic you’re visiting and the dentist you’ve chosen. This is an extremely important step, especially in case of specialized procedures. There are numerous specialties under the umbrella of dental care and you want to be sure that the dentist you’ve chosen is skilled and qualified for the procedures you’ll need. You may also want to ask about the experience your dentist has with your particular procedure. For instance, you may feel better visiting a dentist who has done hundreds of treatments that you’ll need compared to someone who is only cerently qualified in that specialty. You can also go online and check the reviews left by past patients as well as look for photographs of the facility. You can also find out if the facility you’ll be visiting is certified by the International Standards Organization, AAAHC, AAAASFI or any other such accrediting authority.
You should also consider going through a dental tourism agency to book your appointments and do research. There are specialized dental tourism agencies whose purpose is to arrange appointments with dentists that have been quality checked and board certified. These dentists offer warranties or guarantees on their work. In some cases, these companies may offer an array of extra services such as transport and accomodations as well as advocacy in case something goes wrong with your treatment.
You should also obtain insurance coverage for medical complications. Even if the dentist you’ve chosen offers a guarantee or a warranty, it probably will not include any travel or accomodation expences you may face in case you need to return for a follow up procedure. Covering such complications with a low cost policy may prove to be worthwhile, even if only for you to know that you won’t be paying an obscene amount in case you have to go back to your dentist abroad.
Make sure you follow the advice given to you by your dentist. It is very easy to avoid needless complications simply by following what your dentist tells you regarding aftercare. Even if it’s recommended that you stay for another 10 or so days after the procedure, you should make sure you do so.
The vast majority of dental tourists who spend some time researching and then booking their treatment with a reliable dentist or clinic go back home without a single issue. Follow the simple guidelines above and you too will be one of these success stories, rather than a newspaper headline.