Dental tourism risks

dental tourism infection

Dental tourism risks and dental implant dental tourism risks

Dental tourism risks are very real and there is no recourse for patients that have bad work or end up with major infections or permanent damage or nerve damage. All on 4 and dental implants are the highest risk of having major problems. Most patients looking at dental tourism are looking for cheaper costs so I have a post on cheaper All on 4 prosthesis and cheaper dental implants. To find out what costs are in your area you can always use the fair health consumer website.

The biggest issue with dental tourism risks are that they are real and you have no recourse

The most common dental tourism risk is simply getting bad work done. However, if you are simply picking your dentistry on price you very well can get bad work in the US as well. While there is good work in other countries most of the cheapest work is of low quality. The old adage of you get what you pay for holds true for almost everything. I am giving examples of things friends or I have seen but there is also literature with many more examples of terrible things happening to patients. The second to worst thing is there is no legal recourse. They make you permanently numb and everything fails like in this case, tough luck. You can not sue them and get compensated to fix anything or to pay for pain and suffering.

Risk of infection from inferior work from dental tourism

There is always a risk of infection when doing dental work. This increases when the work is of lower quality and when there is not good communication between doctor and patient, like when there is a language difference. Things can go wrong during the procedure and require medical care in the country you are in as well.

In this case really bad dentistry leads to infection in the baby teeth and the child ends up with puss draining out from around the baby teeth. A US dentist I know had to remove the infected teeth. This type of care is dangerous for a child.

Xray of dental toursim work
The three teeth in red had to be removed. The black area under the tooth is puss or infected tissue. They put some sort of medicine in the tooth. I have never seen treatment like this and it clearly did not work. This work is from Mexico.

The biggest risk for dental tourism is there are no follow up visits and there is a big language issue. Below is another case where the girl nearly went septic. The doctors in Mexico left gauze in the extraction site. The patient was unaware that this was done. This would kill her if the dentist did not remove it.

Image of denatl tourism surgery results
This could happen anywhere, but in the US someone would often have a follow up visit. I’ve never seen or heard of this happening in the US but it is possible so I feel save to say it’s more likely in a foreign country.

Dental tourism dental implants

Dental implants are probably the number one thing people are traveling aboard for. It is also the most risky. Few foreign centers utilize guided surgery or even 3D imaging. Even in the best of circumstances implant surgical complications do occur and so do implant restorative complications. There is also infection concerns in facilities that are not being monitored by anyone. As long as every goes well you are fine. If something goes wrong, you’re in a lot of trouble with no one able to help.

Dental tourism and dental implant surgical complications

There is a very real risk that you will have permanent numbness if the doctor places an implant in the wrong place or if the doctor drills too deep. In the US you will see it on every consent form. You won’t see this on any foreign paperwork because if that happens you are on your own. By on your own I mean no US dentist will touch you or help you.

That may seem cold hearted but the reality is once this occurs it’s an easy lawsuit in the US. Therefore no US dentist will be willing to involve themselves in a situation that the responsible party is not legally responsible. That leaves only the kind hearted dentist that tries to help you as the one that can successfully be sued. Part of the reason the costs are cheaper with dental tourism is you can’t sue there and you can here. In the US we factor in the costs of a potential pay out for poor outcome, which is a small part of why care costs more. You get what you pay for.

If you have experienced numbness from a dental implant surgery in a foreign country here are some tips on dental nerve injury, like I said though, do not expect many US dentists to be willing to help you.

Dental implant into nerve from overseas doctor.
CT from US oral surgeon who saw patient with numbness from dental implant placed overseas. There is nothing that can be done at this point as the nerve is already damaged. There is also nothing the patient can do either.

Dental implant crown complications from dental tourism.

There are over a thousand different types of dental implants in the world. If you go to another country you may get a system that no one in the US can even get parts for due to FDA clearance. So what happens when you have a problem with it? The IHDE Tramonte style dental implants are popular in India and in the US we can’t get any parts so if you have a problem plan another trip back to India! You can these on the bottom of the strange implants blog. A case I recently saw on DT that was just an overall terrible mess from India with the IHDE implants can be seen here.

Here is someone that had some sort of implant(s) in Brazil. I have no idea what these implants are and can can not image how one would get a crown to stay on that. The patient came into a friend’s office with the crowns off and broken. There is nothing anyone in the US can do with that mess. They were only a few months old.

Image of a dental tourism dental implant

Infection control standards with dental tourism.

I am not saying they are not working in a clean environment but that there is no organization checking to oversee that like there is in the US. Every US dental office has multiple federal and state organizations checking equipment and facility safety.

Dental tourism for dental full mouth rehabilitation and all on 4 dental implant cases.

I have seen two cases of these in my office for a consult only, one was from India and one was from Costa Rica. Both were a total wreck, although mostly because cheap materials not from surgical skill. They were not dissimilar to Holden’s case here.

Dental tourism for your dental crowns or dental veneers

I don’t think anyone would use dental tourism for a cosmetic procedure like dental veneers but if you are thinking about it just don’t. Veneers are too technique sensitive to be done cheaply. You would be better off getting crowns on the teeth if you are that desperate because it is easier on the dentist and the the dental technician making them to give you a decent result. A well made dental crown is not difficult to do if someone takes the time to do it right. The problem is you will have no idea if it is done right. A couple things you can check though are floss contact and margin fit.

The floss test

The floss check you can do and they should do before cementing them. It consists of ensuring that very thin floss like glide snaps through the space with resistance. It should be tight enough to physically snap, not just slide through. This is ensuring a good fit between the teeth so that people do not trap food between the teeth.

The x-ray test

Finally, the margin fit you can do with a little knowledge. The dentist should take and x-ray of the crown to ensure proper margin fit to the tooth. The edge of the crown will ideally appear seamless with the edge of the tooth. Two things that make for a bad crown are overhangs and open margins. An overhang is where the crown goes past where the tooth ends and every time you floss it the floss gets stuck under the overhang. An open margin is where we can see black space on the x-ray between the edge of the crown and the tooth. The reality is every crown has an open margin but it becomes apparent on the x-ray when it is too large for our cement to fill the gap. If the dentist takes an x-ray to check this, not all do, then you can check it yourself.

Dental tourism risks for dental crowns
All of these dental crowns have nice margins. The red are perfect and the blue are really close to perfect. They are all nearly perfectly straight and seamless with the tooth.
Dental tourism risks for dental crowns with open margins
The red circles show areas of black on the x-ray that are gaps between the crown and tooth. These are small open margins and not likely to cause a problem. The larger the gap the more likely the person is to get decay in that area and ruin the crown.