The rise of dental tourism

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Turkey teeth: The rise of dental tourism

Turkey teeth: The rise of dental tourism. (Image: Pexels / Kindel Media)
Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Thu. 29 June 2023


Increased tooth loss rates, high demand for cosmetic dentistry, rising per-person healthcare costs, and emergence of technologically advanced products drive the growth of the global dental tourism market. However, the strict government restrictions on prohibiting foreign medical treatment hinder the market growth. Furthermore, with the rise in the geriatric population and advanced healthcare options, dental tourism is becoming more and more popular worldwide, thus offering lucrative opportunities in the industry. Dr Sulaman Anwar shares his thoughts on the rising dental tourism market.

Dr Sulman Anwar

Dr Sulaman Anwar: According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global dental tourism market is projected to reach an estimated $21.5 billion by 2031. This marks an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.9% from 2021 to 2031.

The report credits that the increasing trend of dental tourism is caused by a multitude of different factors. Primarily, it is motivated by the high cost of treatment in developed countries like the UK. Unable to afford the expensive dental care within their own country, people are choosing to seek other alternatives abroad. Developing countries such as Turkey, Thailand and Mexico are presenting more cost-effective options, becoming attractive destinations for dental tourists. Another driving factor is the ever-growing demand for cosmetic dentistry fuelled by social media.

Pursuing dental treatment abroad can be a risky endeavour, as there are several important safety considerations to consider. Quality of care can vary significantly across different countries due to lack of standardisation in procedures and practices. Language barriers may also make it difficult for patients to understand their dentist's recommendations or provide detailed medical histories. Furthermore, patients may face potential complications or infections which they may not have access to the necessary follow-up care or emergency services in the event of any adverse effects from treatments. And lastly, insurance coverage may be limited and leave patients with costly out-of-pocket expenses.

Travelling abroad for dental treatment that if carried out to a sub-standard can end up resulting in very costly corrective work which may end up requiring specialist intervention. As a Specialist Periodontist this is something I am seeing more and more commonly in my practice. Patients are having full mouth makeovers with either veneers, crowns or implants with little attention being given to the surrounding gum health. An increasing number of cases are exhibiting significantly advanced post-operative complications, such as periodontitis (gum disease) which is eventually leading to premature tooth loss.

Patients as young as 16-year-olds are having advance cosmetic treatment which they expect will last them a lifetime but as little as 2-3 years on, severe complications are arising. Patients often tend to be from lower socio-economic groups, as affordably is one of the primary reasons for visiting abroad for dental treatments. Unfortunately, it this group that then struggles to afford the upkeep or corrective work that is required in their home country. Unfortunately, patients are often left worse off than their original presenting problem.

The UK dental industry is likely to experience both positive and negative changes due to the rise of dental tourism. On one hand, it may lead to greater competition for dentists in the UK as patients may choose to travel abroad for cheaper treatments. Conversely, this trend should be encouraging UK-based dentists to remain up to date with the newest technologies in order to remain competitive in a global marketplace and instead attract tourists from other countries to the UK seeking the best quality and latest dental innovations.

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