Here are 5 reasons why.
1- Dental implants take time over many visits.
Teeth in an hour or teeth in a day are popular with dental tourism operators. Why don’t we do them in Australia very often? The results are in many cases inferior and the success rate are greatly reduced. Also it can leas to patients being treated to fit the process rather than the process being adapted to fit their clinical condition. In my practice to get a tooth out and an implant placed takes 4-5 visits over 3- 5 months. Sure we could do teeth in a day but the success rate goes down. This would mean at least 3 trips Overseas to receive the optimal care. OS clinics will tell you they don’t see any problems with this rushed approach. Could this be because many people who get problems will end up having it fixed in their own country. Locals in their own country probably get treated with the same time frames we use here.
Root canal treatments require many weeks healing between the first visit and the filling appointment. At Duncraig Village Dental we normally have a 4 week minimum between visits. In more severe infections we may leave a medicament in the tooth for 3-6 months. Studies have shown that if the tooth is filled too soon success is significantly reduced.
For cosmetic Dentistry such as Porcelain Veneers and Crowns we like the provisional veneers to be in place for a few weeks before we fit the permanent veneers. The reason for this is that the provisionals are a template of the final tooth position, arrangement and colour. Many patients require a few weeks to adapt to this new position. Some patients do not adapt and require modification. What will happen if you do not adapt to hastily fitted final veneers and you are back in Australia before you realise you have a problem.
2- What if complications occur?
Complications do occur and often. Most are something as simple a screw loosening or a bite adjustment. My patients can pop back in and have it re-tightened or adjusted. This may only take 10 mins but what if you have to jump on a plane to get this done. My professional indemnity insurer has advised against doing this sort of work on OS placed implants. If I touch it and something goes wrong then I am possibly liable. 50% of all implants will suffer some complication that required at least 1 additional visit over a five year period. The more complicated the case the greater the likelihood.
3- Is it really cheaper?
The average dental implant in Asia is roughly US$2500-$3000. In my practice 1 implant is roughly $4000AUD and 2approx $7000. From this you can claim from your health fund, you can claim some of your out of pocket expenses from your income tax. There are no air fares or hotels. Recovering from major implant surgery is not a holiday so combining the 2 is not like getting your teeth cleaned while holidaying in Bali.
4-There is a higher risk of an infection.
Infectious diseases that are resistant to antibiotics are rife in Asian hospitals. A friend of mine who is a medical practitioner that specialises in infectious diseases told me that they have seen a 1000% increase in the rates of these infections in the last 5 years. The vast majority of people have had recent surgery overseas.
5- Quality control.
All implants and dental materials imported into Australia have to have passed though the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA) here. Implants are made of surgical grade Titanium to the highest quality. Dental materials are also rigorously tested as to their safety. With an overseas clinic how can you be so sure. Sure they may look like the real McCoy but so is that $20 Rolex you can buy on every street corner. Some of the OS implants I have seen look like they came from Bunnings. Even if they are of good quality getting spare parts for them in Australia may be impossible.
Now I am sure there are plenty of reputable clinics overseas. The trouble is how do you know if they are or not? How do you know if the treatment flow process is the best practice or just one that fits your travel plans? Who will fix the complications that will occur and at what cost. 1 failed case I have seen was quoted $15000 initially and done for $5000 in Indonesia subseqently cost $10000 to have the failed implants and bridge removed. It now requires major bone grafting to be able to re-treat this case. So now probably will cost an additional $25000 to do what was originally quoted at $15000. Some Australian dentists (myself included) may refuse to do maintenance on OS placed implant work because my Professional Indemnity insurers may not cover me if I do.