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Patient Wellbeing

Safe Smiles: The Downsides of Dental Tourism

aeroplane landing at sunset

If you believe the adverts that you see on social media, dental holidays are a cheap and hassle-free alternative to getting treatment in the UK. However, we know that if things do go wrong, they are anything but straightforward.

Callers to the Oral Health Foundation’s Dental Helpline have complained of facing dental bills of up to £10,000 to correct poor quality dental work. One caller had to be taken to A&E to drain an infection after her face swelled up so that she could not open her eye.

These stories are not uncommon.  A report by consumer advice group Which?, found that more than a quarter of patients travelling abroad for medical treatment do not feel like they received the follow-up care they needed, while a further 18% report complications.

Here are some of the potential problems when travelling abroad for dental treatment.


More advanced (higher cost) procedures are more likely to result in complications. No matter how skilled the clinician, there is always a risk of treatment failure. If complications do arise once you are home, it will not always be easy to return to the clinic which provided the treatment, especially if there is an infection.


Procedures such as crowns, bridges, veneers and dental implants are not easily, or quickly, carried out. Expertise and time are essential to achieving a good outcome. To achieve a perfect bite, you will likely need repeat visits and a series of adjustments. This may not be possible if the dentist is abroad. Do not trust a dentist offering single visit perfection.

Language barrier

Your clinician should be able to communicate with you and explain the treatment provided and recommendations for post-surgical care. This is always more difficult in instances where you and your practitioner do not have a shared language to communicate in. They need to understand exactly what you want, and you need to know exactly what you are getting.

Varying standards and approaches

There are also varying clinical standards and while in the UK, dentists are more likely to save a tooth, in some countries, dentists may be more ready to extract. Not all countries have the same high standards of cross-infection control, and in developing countries there can be a higher incidence of infectious diseases.

Calculate costs

Many of those considering travelling abroad believe that private dentistry in the UK is not affordable. But when you add in the risk of additional costs when things don’t go to plan - the solution of treatment abroad looks less and less appealing.

At Glow Dentistry we have payment plans that can help spread treatment costs, making treatment both affordable and accessible. One of the benefits of becoming a member at Glow Dentistry is reduced costs on certain treatments.