Reasons To Avoid Traveling Internationally For Dental Implants

by Andrew Mueller, DMD, MD | Jun 18, 2024

Investing in full mouth dental implants is a life-changing decision that can provide you with a beautiful new smile and many years to come of oral health and comfort. At Doctors Implants, our professional team of doctors and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons is privileged to see the incredible impacts that the 6 Hour Smile (our proprietary same-day implant procedure) has on the lives of patients every single day.  

As patients research their options, we also field our fair share of questions about alternative dental implant procedures, including whether or not we support the possibility of traveling abroad to receive dental implants. In a nutshell: No. Our team at Doctors Implants does not recommend undergoing an international dental implant procedure.  

While there are some seemingly compelling reasons to pursue what is commonly referred to as dental tourism as a treatment avenue, the risks of traveling outside the U.S. for dental implants far outweigh any potential benefits.  

Below, we’ve provided an overview of some of the reasons why patients consider engaging in dental tourism and why, as dedicated oral health professionals, we advise against it. To learn more about your options for full mouth dental implants and how Doctors Implants can tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs and circumstances, contact us directly to set up a free consultation at one of our clinics.  

What Is Dental Tourism?

Dental tourism is the practice of traveling outside of your country for the purpose of receiving dental care or undergoing major dental procedures. Most frequently, it involves patients from developed nations (where treatment costs are higher) traveling to developing nations (where treatment costs are lower). In some countries, entire tourism industries have evolved based on dental and medical tourism.  

Why Do People Choose To Travel for Dental Procedures?

Why do some Americans consider the possibility of engaging in dental tourism? While the reasons may vary somewhat from case to case, the affordability of international procedures compared to those in the U.S. is usually a major factor. Let’s take a closer look:

The Cost

According to Medical Tourism Magazine, traveling abroad to receive dental care can result in savings of anywhere from 30%-80%. Numbers like these are undoubtedly eye-catching and attractive, but when thinking about such bargain prices it’s also crucial to consider why they are such a bargain.  

In the U.S., treatment costs may be higher, but they also have certain assurances built into them such as the education and certification of the dentist or doctor performing the procedure, the quality of materials being used, and oversight by a regulating body with rigorous standards and expectations.  

Can the same be said for the costs associated with dental procedures in other countries? In many cases, no. Unfortunately, low prices that seem too good to be true often are and you tend to get what you pay for.  

We’ve explored some of the risks associated with low-cost dental procedures in more detail below:  

Combining the Procedure With a Vacation

One potential benefit of dental tourism is the opportunity to enjoy an exotic holiday while also having dental work completed. Some Americans are drawn to the practicality and convenience, but is a vacation really as memorable or enjoyable when combined with major dental surgery?  

Once again, while the savings may seem attractive, will the ultimate experience live up to your expectations?  Health risks aside, spending your hard-earned vacation time in recovery mode may ultimately not be the destination experience you dreamed of.  

The Risks of Traveling Abroad for Dental Implants

Are dental tourism treatments really such a bargain? What are the reasons for the cheaper costs associated with dental care abroad? And what happens if something goes wrong?  

Below, we’ve cited some of the potential downsides and risks associated with undergoing full mouth dental implant surgery outside of the U.S. in more detail:  

Oral Safety Hazards

At Doctors Implants, our world-class team of doctors and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons is renowned for its ability to successfully take on even the most challenging implant cases. We’ve never turned away a patient due to bone loss and use cutting-edge techniques and procedures to ensure the highest quality outcomes no matter the circumstances.  

Even in the U.S., few implant clinics offer the same exceptional level of care we have come to be known for. Outside the U.S., the odds are even lower that you’ll find a clinic that is able to safely and effectively place implants in patients with jawbone loss or who present with other complications.  

What does this mean in terms of dental tourism? For one thing, your international treatment provider may tell you that you’ll need to undergo bone graft surgery before receiving dental implants. If this is the case, you’ll need to make multiple trips to your out-of-country destination over the course of several months, which will result in higher costs and an increase in logistical complications.  

If you have jawbone loss or other complications and your international treatment provider offers to perform implant surgery without bone graft surgery or other preparations, this presents other potential issues. Are they truly qualified to perform such a complex procedure and what oversight is being provided in the event that something goes wrong?

Lack of Sanitation Standards and Regulation

In the U.S., the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) governs sterilization rules and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates the materials used in medical and dental procedures. In addition, dental and oral health professionals are mandated to engage in ongoing professional development programs throughout their careers and to carry malpractice insurance.  

What certified groups oversee sanitation standards in international countries and how are regulations monitored and enforced? How are health professionals certified, how up-to-date are they with current implant procedures, and what recourse do you have in the event that something goes wrong?  

Before considering traveling abroad for dental treatments, it’s crucial to understand that you may not be receiving a comparable standard of care to the standard of care you would receive in the U.S.  

Difficult Follow-Up Care

After surgical treatment, excellent follow-up care is essential to prevent infections and other complications and ensure you are on the quickest road to complete recovery. In the days immediately following your implant procedure in a foreign country, communication issues may prevent you from receiving proper care. 

Also worth considering is the fact that it may be impossible to make a seamless transition to receiving follow-up care from your American dentist when you return home.  Many American dentists and doctors are understandably reticent about providing follow-up care for procedures they didn’t perform themselves. It’s also important to consider the possibility that the materials or treatment methods approved in other countries may vary substantially from those used and approved in America.  

Rushed Treatment

Dental tourists may be at a higher risk of receiving rushed or substandard care because they are on a tight schedule. Dentists and oral surgeons who know that they only have limited time with a patient may cut corners to meet deadlines or agree to perform procedures with less treatment and recovery time than recommended. This type of rushing can result in poor outcomes and be detrimental to your health.  

Unfortunately, building sufficient recovery time into an international trip can be a challenge, which is yet another reason why our team at Doctors Implants strongly recommends undergoing full mouth dental implant surgery locally.  

Avoid the Headaches and Contact Doctors Implants for a Consultation

Despite the fact that the global dental tourism industry is projected to reach $21.5 billion USD by 2031, there are numerous risks associated with traveling abroad for full mouth dental implant surgery. At Doctors Implants, we strongly advise patients against pursuing implant treatments outside of the U.S., and instead encourage them to invest in high-quality local treatment that they can wholeheartedly rely on.  

At Doctors Implants, our approach to full mouth implant surgery is revolutionary. The 6 Hour Smile has been refined thousands of times over on Americans just like you and is performed with signature professionalism and expertise every single time. At Doctors Implants, we treat our patients like family and will work with you to find a path forward so that you can receive the full mouth dental implants you deserve, even if there are obstacles or hurdles to overcome along the way.  

Ready to book your free doctor consultation and learn more?  Contact our dedicated team directly today! 

About the Author

Andrew Mueller, DMD, MD

Dr. Andrew Mueller loves being an oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. After completing both dental and then medical school, he did a general surgery residency and an oral/maxillofacial surgery residency (both at Parkland hospital in Dallas, Texas). He has performed countless general anesthetics in the operating room, learning how to safely put patients to sleep and wake them back up.

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