Dental holidays risky
Thursday August 27, 2009
Australians who need expensive work on their teeth are opting for overseas treatment in places like Thailand, which are significantly cheaper but more susceptible to things going wrong.
President of the Australian Dental Association Dr Neil Hewson says that overseas dental work can be risky.
"It's a bit of a lottery," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"We advise people not to do it, we warn them of the possible, adverse things that might happen."
Dr Hewson said that it's a gamble to undergo complex procedures as devices may not fit properly and at the extreme, people can lose teeth.
He has also heard a few horror stories from dentists around Australia.
"All sorts of things can happen...sometimes you can't fix them and you have to have a denture or implants."
However, Dr Hewson says that he doesn't hear many horror stories as people don't like to speak of their dental mishaps.
"They're very reluctant to talk about it to the dentists...because your mouth is very personal so people don't want to make that sort of stuff public."
While the price of dental work is approximately three times cheaper in countries such as Thailand, Australian dentists are extremely regulated and if a procedure goes wrong there are strict follow-up procedures.
"If you don't get the satisfaction there are complaints commission boards and even courts if you need (them) to give you a chance to protect yourself," he said of dental operation in Australia.
He explains that overseas doesn't have the same level of cover.
Regardless there is still a fair amount of interest in overseas procedures. Manager of Body & Spirit, specialising in dental and cosmetic surgery holidays, Barbara Sheriff says that she receives about 20 enquiries a week for dental holidays.
Her company has a partnership with the Bangkok Phuket Hospital, the only health establishment in the country recognised under the Thai government's Quality Improvement Accreditation.
She says that the appeal of getting dental work overseas is that not only is the price a third of the price paid in Australia, people get a holiday at the same time.
Australian retiree Neil Glenister, who needed two missing teeth replaced, decided to include his dental work in a holiday to Thailand.
Compared to the $6000 quote he was given for dental work in Australia, Glenister booked a two-week trip to Thailand that included his dental work and it cost him a total of $4000.
Glenister underwent his dental work at Bangkok Phuket Hospital.
"The hospital was as good as any hospital here...I couldn't fault it and there's been nothing wrong with the work that's been done," said Glenister.