The price of beautiful and cheap teeth

BrothersAs the anesthetic wore off, Lisa Martyn returned home from Turkey with shiny teeth and growing pain in her gums.

“I almost lost my mind. I put my hand to my mouth and immediately felt pain. The pain didn’t go away, it ran around my mouth, from one tooth to the other,” said the 48-year-old.

Martyn went to Turkey in September 2021 to have his teeth fixed. She is one of hundreds of thousands of “dental tourists” who flock to foreign clinics each year after seeing advertisements for cheap services.

There is a shortage of public dentists in many areas of the UK. Patients are transferred to private facilities. One family was so desperate they had to go to Brazil for a dental checkup.

Cheap service in areas like Hungary, Poland and Turkey is therefore attractive. For example, the cost of porcelain teeth in Turkey ranges from $3,700 to $7,500 for the entire jaw, but in the UK it can go as high as $12,500.

The pandemic is driving demand for cosmetic dentistry, particularly among people over 40. The global dental tourism industry is booming. It is estimated that this market will be worth $5.83 billion by 2025.

Some dental tourists have a satisfying experience, but others do lost money, disability.

Martyn applied porcelain veneers at a clinic in Turkey in 2011. The first time she was treated abroad, she was very happy with the results and wasn’t in much pain when she returned home. However, last year Martyn noticed a crack in a porcelain tooth and returned to the clinic to have it checked out. When she got there, the doctor told her that she couldn’t replace a tooth but would have to redo the entire jaw at a cost of $4,400.

The second round of treatment was a “nightmare,” according to Martyn. After taking a quick X-ray and sitting her in a chair, the doctor began grinding down 26 of her real teeth to create porcelain veneers.

“I said, ‘My teeth look too small,’ and the dentist said, ‘They’re fine.’ They didn’t even make me worry,” Martyn said. When the procedure was over, Martyn paid with a swollen face. The hospital neither billed her nor did she want to return her medical records.

Months later, Martyn was nearly paralyzed in the face, often suffering from pain in the gums, jaw, and an abscess on one cheek. When she went to the doctor, she found that she had an infection and had to pay more money to have the root canal removed. “I went to the dentist with a fit,” she said.

At this point, Martyn knew he was fully covered in porcelain teeth and did not need to apply a veneer as required by the doctor. Porcelain veneers are less invasive than other methods. In order for the porcelain veneer to adhere to the tooth surface, the doctor only has to grind down the front of the tooth a little to create roughness. Meanwhile, the porcelain crown is a mandatory option to grind many teeth to cover the porcelain crown over it.

The pain dogged Martyn for eight months and would not allow her to eat or drink. “When I went to Turkey to have my teeth done, I weighed 117 kg. Now I weigh 95 kg,” she said.

Martyn was forced to extract all of his teeth and implant them with dentures. She still takes painkillers daily, needs deeper pulp treatment. The cost of the refurbishment is more than $1,800.

She posted a warning video about cheap dental tourism services on her personal page and received hundreds of views. Martyn believes his case is just the tip of the iceberg that exists in the multi-billion dollar global industry.

Lisa Martyn once had porcelain teeth in Turkey, returned to the UK with inflamed gums and an abscess on one cheek.  Photo: Telegraph

Lisa Martyn once had porcelain teeth in Turkey, returned to the UK with inflamed gums and an abscess on one cheek. Picture: telegraph

Another woman, Chloe, also had a similar experience after having porcelain crowns in Turkey. Even from the outside she has perfect white teeth. Underneath, however, Chloe’s gums became inflamed, potentially causing problems that could last a lifetime.

The 20-year-old college student used nearly $5,500 of her life savings to get her teeth done in February. She initially wanted less-invasive porcelain veneers because she wasn’t happy with her real teeth. Chloe went to a dental practice in Turkey after seeing an attractive advert on social media.

When she walked into the clinic, she couldn’t help but be surprised by the “industry” here. “It’s like a big chain, patients just go in and out,” she said.

The clinic has a luxury drinks bar, complimentary food, a large garden out front, and free shuttle service from the hotel.

“I have never seen such a dental clinic. She is beautiful. But they don’t care about your teeth there at all,” she said.

Although Chloe asked that non-invasive procedures be performed without filing down the root teeth, the doctor still filed down to the root and covered it with porcelain. When she looked in the mirror and saw that her real teeth were tiny, she burst into tears.

“I was shocked, I cried a lot. I said right away that I didn’t want my teeth to chip that badly. They told me my teeth aren’t strong enough for veneers. No one informed me beforehand.” she recounted.

Like Martyn, Chloe is not allowed to sign any documents or contracts prior to the procedure and is not allowed to receive a receipt upon completion.

She returned home with aching teeth, pain spreading all over her body. To date, the discomfort has subsided, but Chloe’s gums are still sensitive. She worries about problems in the future. “I’m really bad mentally,” she said.

Chloe believes the “Instagram Effect” is the driving force behind young dental tourists. Celebrities and influencers often post pictures with perfect smiles, leading them to travel thousands of miles to get their teeth done abroad.

dr Emi Mawson, a dentist at the National Health Service (NHS), said a growing number of teenagers are looking for affordable dental services but don’t understand the difference between porcelain veneers and porcelain teeth.

“If you use porcelain crowns, your dentist will grind your teeth down to the root. This can cause problems in the future. Statistically, if you grind healthy teeth down to the root, a quarter of those will be dead teeth, causing symptoms like abscesses,” she said.

It is also difficult for patients to find a doctor in the UK who is willing to treat them when they go abroad for dental treatment and problems arise. Under NHS rules, a doctor will be fined if the procedure is unsuccessful.

“As dentists, we take full responsibility for the methods we prescribe for our patients. However, if a person in another country had porcelain crowns and now has an abscess and comes to the doctor, I am not willing to channel for them because the success rate will be lower. I could be fined if the treatment doesn’t work. The only thing I can do is pull that tooth,” said Dr. Mawson.

In order to make cheap teeth, some overseas hospitals reduce inventory, buy crowns in bulk, and make them in batches instead of customizing each patient’s tooth structure. Meanwhile, bonding porcelain veneers requires more time and technique.

dr Mawson acknowledged that there are qualified dentists working in dental tourism hotspots, but cautioned young people to do their due diligence before agreeing to any invasive procedures.

dentist dr Len D’Cruz, head of the British Dental Association, agrees. He said that many patients with porcelain teeth abroad are not provided with all the necessary information. according to dr D’Cruz, complex procedures are common in the dental tourism hotspot but are a last resort for dentists in the UK.

“In the UK we firmly believe in the MID principle, which is referred to as minimally invasive dentistry. We very much avoid using crowns and bridges when it’s not necessary,” he said.

Thuk Linh (Corresponding telegraph)