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Cosmetic dentistry: could I go abroad?

Cosmetic dentistry is often better suited to dental treatment abroad, as it usually involves less complex or invasive treatments than restorative dentistry, and can therefore be completed in a single visit or over the course of just a few days.

Cosmetic dentistry abroad can offer significant savings compared to the price of private dental work in your own country. For example, dental bonding that costs up to $300 in the US will cost just $70 in Mexico, while veneers that cost £300 plus in the UK will cost less than half that in Hungary or Poland. For many patients, cosmetic dentistry abroad is particularly attractive as it is unlikely that dental work for purely cosmetic reasons, with no underlying medical need, will be covered by the their national health scheme or dental insurance.

So what kind of cosmetic dentistry can you find outside your own country, and which is suitable for dental treatment abroad?

White fillings

Unlike the traditional silver amalgam fillings that many of us are familiar with, white fillings give a more natural look that blends with your teeth. Many people prefer white fillings as they are conscious of their darker fillings when they laugh or smile. White fillings are standard when a front tooth is filled, however in back teeth they are classified as cosmetic dentistry, and so they will not always be covered by public health systems, or by dental insurers.

White fillings take around the same time to complete as normal fillings and so are ideal for dental treatment abroad. However, you should always check that your chosen dentist is using the very latest materials for white fillings, as there have been significant advances in strength and durability in recent years.

Teeth whitening

Modern lifestyles can easily discolour teeth, with substances such as coffee, red wine and cigarettes leaving lasting stains. Such stains can be easily removed using modern teeth whitening procedures. These range from chemical treatments, which essentially bleach the teeth, to laser treatments, which enhance the effect of chemical reactions by the addition of intense light pulses.

Teeth whitening can be done in a single session, or a series of sessions over the course of a week or two, fitting perfectly into a holiday break. For this reason, sunshine destinations such as Mexico, Cyprus and Turkey are popular venues for teeth whitening.

Dental bonding

Where the staining or damage goes beyond simple whitening, the look of your teeth can be enhanced using dental bonding. In this procedure, the tooth is roughed a little in preparation, and a special tooth coloured resin is bonded to the surface. This is set using UV light and then trimmed into shape and polished to match the surrounding teeth.

Dental bonding can be done in a single session, with no anaesthetic required. It takes under an hour for each tooth and so several teeth can be done in one session, with no need to return for further treatment, making it ideal for dental treatment abroad.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are the next step up from dental bonding, with a tailor made porcelain veneer used to provide a more permanent and durable solution to stained or damaged teeth. Veneers can be used to improve the look of teeth, filling gaps and straightening the appearance of crooked teeth to provide that perfect smile.

Veneers will require at least two visits to your dentist, the first to prepare the tooth and take moulds, and the second to attach the veneer. If the lab is unable to make the veneer while you are still in the country, then you will have to return for the fitting.

Veneers done abroad offer some of the best savings, however it is important to ensure that you are getting high quality as well, and that the savings are not being made by compromising on materials or workmanship.

Tooth reshaping

Tooth reshaping is cosmetic dentistry at its most artistic, where crooked, chipped or oversized teeth are subtly sculpted into a more pleasing size and shape. This is done by removing small amounts of tooth enamel in some places, and enhancing the tooth via bonding or resin fillers in others. The most skilled exponents can achieve amazing results using simple sanding strips moved between the teeth to fine tune their shape and alignment.

Tooth reshaping is ideal for dental treatment abroad as it rarely takes more than one visit. However, this is a highly skilled procedure, almost an art, and so you should carefully research your chosen dentists, asking for before and after pictures and testimonials of their work, before you commit. Remember, your teeth will not ‘heal’ if the procedure goes wrong, so you need to have the utmost confidence in the skill of your dentist.

Best value, not best price

Most cosmetic dentistry is ideally suited for treatment abroad, as most procedures take just one or two visits and can be completed in a short period of time. However, it is worth remembering that the point of cosmetic dentistry is to look your best, and so you should be careful to avoid ‘cheap’ treatments from inexperienced practitioners. Putting some time into researching a reputable clinic and a dentist with good experience will pay dividends.

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