I’ve been aware of the practice of “dental tourism” for some time now. In fact, I had a patient many years ago, who while wintering in in Arizona, made the short trip to Mexico to have a crown made – and at a substantially lower fee than mine. Honestly, I thought it was adequate!
A year ago, the CBS show ” 60 Minutes” did a feature on the Mexican town of Los Algodones, also known as “Molar City”. With a population of 6,000 including 600 dentists, Molar City is one of the world’s top destinations for dental tourists. When asked about the “60 Minutes” episode an American Dental Association spokesperson was quoted as saying “There are good and bad dentists everywhere”. True, but that’s not the whole story!
So why would people travel from aroun d the world to Mexico, India, or Eastern Europe for theirdental work? Some of the reasons are:
- Lower fees
- Reduced waiting times
- Excellent care (in some cases!)
There are, however, potentially significant risks with this practice:
- Infection Control – Many foreign countries do not have organizations like OSHA to insure adequate infection controls. There have been cases of individuals acquiring Hepatitis B and C and even HIV by having procedures done in unclean clinics overseas.
- Inadequate training – Many foreign countries do not have the rigorous and uniform training programs and licensure requirements that we maintain in the U.S. This can certainly lead to poor outcomes.
- Unapproved materials – Some countries permit the use of materials that have not been approved in the United States. (I usually cite the fact that the FDA never approved Thalidomide for use in pregnant women in the U.S., unlike Canada, England, and Belgium, which suffered horrendous birth defects as a result of this practice.)
- And finally, what if there is a problem? – It’s difficult to see your dentist to repair or treat an unexpected problem if he or she is 2,000 miles away!
In conclusion I guess the old adage “Buyer Beware” would certainly apply here! For more information on this interesting topic visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/travel
As always, I invite you to call with any questions. Feel free to contact us at Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA or call us at (215) 230-7667.