BBC Dental Tourism Documentary Highlights ‘Hidden’ Dangers

BBC Dental Tourism Documentary Highlights ‘Hidden’ Dangers

The hidden dangers of destructive cosmetic dentistry carried out abroad have been highlighted in a shocking documentary resulting from a collaboration by the British Dental Association and the BBC.

A survey of 1000 dentists carried out by the BDA earlier in the year found that 95% of respondents reported that they have examined patients who have travelled abroad for dental treatment.

Of those, an alarming  86% say they have treated cases that developed complications. 

BDA News said “Crowns were identified as the treatment most likely to need follow-up work, closely followed by implants.”

The BDA said “Two-thirds of dentists said that it cost patients at least £500 to repair the damage done to teeth. Over half reported that it cost more than £1,000. One in five of these dentists said the cost exceeded £5,000.”

“Just over 40% of respondents said the remedial treatment was provided on the NHS.”

BDA Chair Dr Eddie Crouch appeared on BBC Breakfast yesterday, with Love Island contestant Jack Fincham, who has been open about his dental treatment carried out abroad.

Presenter Charlie Stayt asked Dr Crouch how widespread the problems associated with dental tourism are.

Dr Crouch that many of his colleagues had reported extensive problems.

He said patients suffered “Pain, abscesses. I spoke to Jack (Fincham) earlier. Jack has been lucky. He hasn’t had any of those problems, but sadly, many of my colleagues on the High Street are seeing a lot of people returning, having had this treatment, with severe problems.”

Naga Munchetty asked the BDA chair “What is the actual issue?”

Dr Crouch replied “The issue is they’re having crowns on healthy teeth. They’re having healthy teeth drilled extensively in order to have a cosmetic result. There are alternatives – having the teeth straightened, bleached to improve the colour, or having material bonded to the teeth rather than having the teeth drilled away.”

Charlie Stayt asked Dr Crouch what patients should be wary of when researching dental tourism.

Dr Crouch said “People need to have informed consent.”

“They need to understand what the complications of the treatment are. They would need informed consent if they were having treatment in the UK.’  They need to know what the possible complications are and exactly what the treatment is.

“Many of these patients go they’re thinking they’re having veneers which is something that is stuck to the front of the tooth but they actually have huge amounts of their teeth drilled away. That isn’t informed consent.”

The presenter of the documentary Turkey Teeth: Bargain Smiles or Big Mistake? was dentist Trishala Lakhani.

She sent iPhone photographs of her own teeth to 150 dental clinics in Turkey and 50 clinics in the UK.

Dr Lakhani reported that 120 of the Turkish clinics responded to her request for treatment suggestions for her teeth, while 34 of the UK clinics did.

Dentists at one clinic based in Turkey suggested all 28 of Dr Lakhani’s (perfect) teeth should be crowned with Zirconium.

Dr Lakhani said “Seventy of the 120 Turkish clinics that responded to our message, offered a treatment plan that involves me getting crowns and veneers.”

She made the important point ‘If I was genuinely insecure about something, and a practitioner or clinic told me you need this to make that better. I wouldn’t think twice because you trust these people.”

Dr Lakhani revealed that none of the UK clinics approached for the documentary suggested any intervention.

A general practitioner who watched the documentary on iPlayer told GDPUK “At last, there is mainstream coverage of a rapidly growing problem.”

“I thought this programme was excellent and will hopefully make patients think twice before embarking on dental tourism trips.”

“I have seen a couple of patients in the past few years who had multiple crowns placed on perfect teeth, just to straighten them up. Orthodontics by clear aligners would have been a more appropriate approach, but now both of the patients have had to have teeth root-treated by specialists in order to salvage once-perfect teeth.”

Turkey Teeth: Bargain Smiles or Big Mistake? can be found on iPlayer here.


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