Dental implants abroad, what you need to know
The full cost of dental implants can often run into many thousands of pounds and it is for this reason that people seek cheap dental implants abroad. This article is dedicated to providing information and advice for those patients interested in dental tourism from the perspective of a UK dentist.
What are the reasons Dental tourism occurs?
With the NHS struggling to cover a wide variety of dental treatments it’s left to private dentistry to fill this gap. Cosmetic dental treatments and particularly dental implants are very rarely available on the NHS which means patients will need to pay the full rate for any treatment they have. Dental treatments in the UK can seem relatively inexpensive but this is mainly due to the fact we are used to paying virtually nothing on the NHS.
With anything we buy we are always looking for value, so if we purchased a brand new BMW car for £5,000 that would be excellent value and most people might jump at the chance. Equally a brand new 5 bedroom house for £30,000 would be excellent value and again many would purchase due to the extreme value offered.
So it’s not about the definitive amount, rather the value that can be achieved from spending this amount.
Dental implant prices often begin much lower than £5000 but could approach £30,000 for a full set of dental implants. A car will almost certainly wear out after a few years, and we don’t even use a car 24 hours a day. A new set of teeth supported on dental implants are used all day everyday and will certainly last much longer than a car making them good value.
Unfortunately this value is not always fully recognised and people seek to have the cheapest dental implants possible… Which often means not such good value!
Why are dental implants are expensive in the UK?
The easiest way to understand this is to look at the components of a dental implant treatment in the UK to discover where each of the costs lay:
- Initial consultation. Your dentist will want to have an initial consultation with you, this may involve CT scans, x-rays and consultations with more specialised dentists. Prior to this detailed dental initial consultation some practices may offer a free consultation .
- Planning. Once you have decided to go ahead a full and detailed treatment plan will have to be done, this is very often provided by a dental laboratory in conjunction with the dental implant surgeon. With the highest quality comes the ability to use computer assisted diagnostics and planning, this means the dental implant is placed in exactly the right place and avoidance all of the vital nerves and blood vessels supplying your teeth.
- Dental implant placement. After the planning stage the placement will go ahead, this will often involve the whole team including nurses, surgeons, dentists and technicians.
- The dental implant surgery. As well as providing the practical skills your dental implant will be placed in a sterile surgical environment, as you may know this kind of facility is very expensive to run and maintain.
- Dental implant training. Of course you will want to know that the person placing your dental implant has had the best training and continues to do so, the training courses for dental implants can be very expensive and will need to be undertaken by all of the dental professionals involved.
- The dental implant itself. The dental implant itself will be made from high-grade medical titanium, implants are very often computer milled meaning they have tolerances of a few microns.
- The trans-mucosal element. This is an abutment which connects the dental implant itself to your final restoration, this could either be a Crown, Bridge or denture.
- The restoration. This is the only part of the dental implant you will actually see a it is the part that provides your new smile and enables you to eat and chew again with confidence.
- Post operative care. After the implant is placed there will be a time of healing during which you will need to visit the dentist a few times.
As you can see, there are many elements which make up the price of the dental implant, if any of these are compromised in order to provide a cheaper dental implant than the value of the implant may be reduced and you may not receive the quality of service you expect, or indeed receive the most cost-effective treatment.
How to choose the right clinic and dentist for a dental implant
Here are our top questions to ask any clinic you are looking for:
- What experience do you have? Ask how many dental implants they have placed in the previous year, this will give you an idea of the level of experience.
- What do your patients say about you? Ask to see reviews by current patients, look for reviews specifically by patients that have had dental implants.
- What dental implant system do you use? Whilst we don’t expect you to have heard of the dental implant systems if you know which system your dentist is using you will be able to do further research. Ensure that the implant system used is one of the major brands and not a cheap copy.
- What are your qualifications? In the UK we have a list of dental specialists, these specialists have additional Masters level training. Some dentist also have additional training at postgraduate level in order to place dental implants.
- What a professional bodies do you belong to? Ask about voluntary and compulsory membership. In the UK dentists have two comply with the Care Quality Commission and the General Dental Council regulations and are regularly audited. A foreign dental clinic may only have voluntary membership or comply to voluntary schemes this may not be as high standard as the compulsory ones in the UK.
- What other options are there? If your dentist only offers you dental implants you may like to consider the possibility that they are not seeing the bigger picture. There are other alternatives such as bridges, dentures and sometimes doing nothing may be the best option.
How to save on full mouth reconstructions
There are often many ways to save on a full mouth reconstruction. It’s not always necessary to place multiple dental implants. Modern techniques such as All-on-4 allow your dentist place only 4 dental implants and then placed either a fixed bridge or removable denture over the top. Dentures are often a cheaper option and can provide a good way to save on full mouth reconstructions.
Some final advice
Most dental practices really do appreciate that UK dental work can be relatively expensive, to help finance options are often available, similar to when you purchase a car. Please do let your dental practice know that you would like to find out about finance options and making treatment more affordable, there are very often ways that they can help. So don’t forget, being prepared to be open about the cost with the UK dentist may be the best option rather than travel abroad for dental implants, in order to ensure high-quality treatment.
A graduate of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Dental school, Dr Padayachy has been a dentist at the award winning Senova Dental Studios in Watford since 1998 focusing on comprehensive restorative and cosmetic dentistry.
Jay has previously been the president of The London Dental Fellowship.
He has been a member of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry since its inception and serves on the Credentialing committee. Jay has lectured widely on all aspects of cosmetic dentistry, dental photography and comprehensive care.