Perils of Cheap Dental Implants Abroad

Many of us have come across patients who have been abroad for treatment.  This is a choice exercised by many, however, we have a responsibility to warn all our patients who maybe contemplating such actions to the potential pitfalls. One of the main problems we see is the lack of long term treatment planning, as the patients have a limited time abroad and the dentist provides too much too quickly.  This results in the dentist cutting corners and in some cases ignoring the patient?s periodontal status. Unfortunately,  the consequences of poor treatment planning are not always immediate and can surface several months or even years later. The patient is left with a less than satisfactory outcome and the remedial work ends up costing a lot more than if it was carried out in the UK.

The General Dental Council has acknowledged this problem and even produces a simple guide for patients regarding treatment overseas. This can be down loaded from the GDC website at www.gdc.org.uk under the advice section.

The GDC guide asks some pertinent questions
about going abroad:

  1. Who will be providing my treatment and what are their qualifications?
  2. How many times have they carried out the procedure?
  3. What will happen if things do not go to plan?
  4. How is the regulatory body able to help?

We should also ask our patients who are contemplating going abroad the same questions as well.
By posing these questions to our patients we are not trying to dissuade them but providing information on the potential risks involved.  Being a referral practice we have also seen a significant amount of implant failures, such as nerve parasthesia, failed implants, peri-implantitis, fractured implants and failed implant retained crown/bridgework.  Once again this is a long term problem for the patient as the implant systems in these countries are typically one of the smaller manufacturers with little or no research. While the research aspect may be considered academic as titanium implants all integrate, the real problem is that the instruments and components used for these systems may not be available in the UK.   On a number of occasions we have had to contact overseas practices  to find out the system used and also where we can order the necessary components.

Here, at the Birmingham Periodontal & Implant Centre, we only use the major manufacturers such as AstraTech, ITI Straumann, Biomet 3i, Southern Dental Implants, Nobel Biocare and Denstply Friadent.   We make sure that the patient is getting the best product so that if they were to move practice or even abroad, they would not be disadvantaged in anyway.  As we have no financial involvement in any of these manufacturers, the patient is the main beneficiary as he or she can travel with complete confidence knowing that only the best researched and most widely available products have been used.  If you are referring your patients for implants, we would suggest that you inform your patient of appropriate questions to ask regarding the implant manufacturer used and the availability of components. One of the main disadvantages of treatment abroad is that the patient is not always able to necessarily return to the dentist to seek remedial treatment.  Whereas, the advantage of having implant treatment locally is the convenience of being able to return to the dentist and be seen quickly if any problems develop.

One of our main strengths is that we are based in central Birmingham and have been operating as a dedicated specialist practice for over 10 years.  We are open 5 days a week, 8 till 6pm which enables us to see emergencies the same day.   We are happy to receive any enquiries on patient treatment from the dentist either by email or telephone. Referrals are usually seen within one week and the reports are usually sent out within 48 hours of the patient been seen.