“Turkey teeth” trend: Leading dental professor issues stark warning over dental tourism dangers

Professor Phil Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, alerts that dental tourism is having a huge impact on the UK dental sector.

He has issued a stark warning around what has popularly become known as the “Turkey teeth trend” - those looking to travel abroad for cheap, invasive dental treatment. The warning comes following a surge in patients experiencing painful and botched outcomes.

“Some people have erroneously turned to travelling to places around the world for cosmetic dental treatment attracted by slick advertising showing supposedly massive savings on UK prices, however, this continues to have serious ongoing consequences,” said Taylor in a statement. 

“There are increasing numbers of patients who have had dental work abroad being left in long-term pain both from their teeth and in their pockets when they have to repair the damage caused.”

He said that the types of procedures being carried out abroad can often result in “overtreatment,” which ranges from offering unnecessary treatment to grinding down perfectly good teeth that could have improved appearance with much simpler, less invasive treatments. 

Popular tooth tourism treatments include veneers, crowns and implants. 

These treatments can be very invasive and often involves the natural tooth being filed down to fangs or stubs before a tooth cap is glued on top or an implant is drilled in. 

But, seeing as a full set of new teeth can cost around £2,000 in Turkey, compared to up to £20,000 in the UK, it is proving difficult for dentists to dissuade patients from travelling abroad for their teeth.

“With dental implant treatment, the failures can be very serious indeed, requiring very advanced surgical interventions to repair the damage that’s been done,” Taylor said. 

“UK dentists are seeing an increase in this problem and of course, the patient has very little recompense, if any, for the poor treatment.

Backing up Taylor’s concerns, in a recent report by the British Dentist Association, 86% of dentists surveyed in the UK reported that they treated cases that developed problems following treatment abroad

“Most reputable dentists do not advocate invasive cosmetic treatment as this is invariably unnecessary and it is important to emphasise that there is no such thing as a registered specialist in cosmetic dentistry in the UK. The profession will though, wherever possible, provide an aesthetic solution to any problem,” said Taylor.  

“Patients need a detailed quote and explanation of what the dentist is going to do for them, and it would be wise to obtain advice from more than one professional before you make your final decision.”