John Ward – Medical Tourism: Truth, Lies And Dental Implants – 16 November 2013

JohnWHow to save £20,000 on Dental Implants

In a more serious vein for once, The Slog tries to remove some of the myths, fears and expectations of people considering dental implants.

Having been for over a decade something only rich people did, dental implants are becoming increasingly popular. Not everyone is other than vaguely clear, however, on what the procedure entails.

Dental implants for dummies

These are the key points to bear in mind before you start:

  1. Beware of sites promoting implants that emerge from private dentistry associations or individual practitioners. They nearly always hugely underestimate the amount of visits, time, patience, pain and general hassle involved. This is especially true if you are over 65, and having multiple/bridge implants done: the older you are and the more complicated the problem is, the worse will be the financial and post-operative pain.
  2. There are three stages to the process at best: first, extraction of teeth that are rotten, in the way or crooked; second, boring into the hole(s) thus created, and then tightly fixing implant posts into your jawbone; and third, fixing the false teeth onto the implant post heads.
  3. For best results, the time between post-fixing and tooth mounting should be at least three months (under 55) and for older patients a good 4-6 months.
  4. Having temporary teeth fitted for vanity reasons is, in my view, an unnecessary risk. It tends to dislodge the posts in some cases.
  5. Not all posts ‘take’, by which one means that the bone doesn’t grow tight up against the post to fix it absolutely solidly in place. If after a few weeks the dentist decides your post hasn’t taken, it’s best to take it out immediately, as this helps the bone to recover ready for a second attempt – probably with a slightly larger and deeper post. You should wait at least another month before a second go.
  6. Oral hygiene is extremely important while waiting for the posts to take.
  7. As to initial pain, everyone is different. Some dentists tend to underestimate the need for painkillers. The two things that help dull the pain most are (a) very cold water held in the mouth and (b) the use of amoxicillin. That’s an old fashioned antibiotic that has been found to speed up the pain reduction/settling gum process. (As so often with medicine, nobody seems to know why). The pain can be gone within 24 hours, but most people need 3-7 days – and for really special people like me, it takes 10-12 days.
  8. Infections are rare but can occur. If your pain hasn’t largely subsided after a fortnight, it’s odds-on you have an infection.
  9. Several visits to the dentist will be necessary to remove stitches, check ‘taking’ progress, and take X-rays.
  10. Once the dentist is absolutely sure your posts are ready, the teeth will be fitted onto the post heads. This should be a painless process.

Implant costs: the case for medical tourism

The costs will vary by complexity of problem and where you live – ie, by nationality. The US is obscenely expensive, the UK is ridiculously expensive, and it’s astonishingly cheap in Albania and Mexico. But price isn’t everything: these are your gnashers we’re talking about here.

The differences are best explained using some price and percentage data.

To have a four-implant foundation for an eight-tooth bridge, the lowest quote I got in the UK was £25,000, the highest £37,000. The cost of doing it in Southern Greece (using a highly-skilled, German trained-dentist) was €6000 – but in cash, nudge nudge etc. That’s an 80% differential in price, and I reckon it was worth every penny: for example, for €20,000 in France you can buy a decent motor-home…the difference between the two prices.

So in theory, it’s a no-brainer IF you take great care on two points:

1. Extensive local knowledge of the skills and honesty of the dentist

2. A very good interpreter if you don’t speak the language.

In short, as always caveat emptor applies. I wouldn’t go to Mexico to have my teeth cleaned let alone extracted; but on the other hand, many middle class Greeks now get implants done in Albania…where the price is half of the Greek cost.

Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice.

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