A UK dentist has issued a stark warning over “Turkey teeth” after treating a woman left toothless after a botched dental procedure abroad. Dr Sahil Patel has warned people to do their research before taking a trip abroad to get their teeth done.
The 31-year-old recalled treating a patient who had gone to Turkey in hopes of getting the “Love Island smile”. Dr Patel said the patient had her eight front teeth removed in the hopes of getting a full set of implants to replace them.
The procedure to remove and replace eight front teeth in Turkey cost the woman £5,000. But after her implants got infected "past the point of no return" within three months of returning to the UK, she was left toothless.
Dr Patel, cosmetic dentist and founder of Marylebone Smile Clinic, London, said: "There has been a rise in overseas treatments in Thailand, Hungary and Romania. All of these can unfortunately suffer over-treatment or complications when they return to us in the UK.
"The bright and white approach is becoming popular - the most common smile we are asked to replicate is Cheryl Cole’s." Recalling the "single worst outcome" he has ever seen from the patient who had a treatment abroad, Dr Patel explained she had returned to the UK with a temporary denture while her implants healed.
But the implants quickly became infected - and six of eight were lost and needed to be removed entirely. Dr Patel said: “It is rare to have such a catastrophic failure."
The £5,000 botched procedure abroad will cost the patient another £3,000 minimum to fix her issues back in the UK, Dr Patel said. He said: "It is a common misconception that implants are just as good as real teeth.
"The reality is they are not as resilient as natural teeth. Due to them being a ‘foreign object’, they do not have the sensory feedback that a normal tooth has.
"This can be quite damaging to the muscles and jaw if having all the teeth replaced with implants." He added: "Also, cleaning and maintenance of implant teeth is very hard and often requires specialist treatment to ensure the implants last for the long term."
Dr Patel recommends getting treatment in the UK, but if you do opt to go abroad for treatment, he shared some top tips for things to look out for when selecting a clinic.
He said some “red flags” include not mentioning aftercare or risks and complications, limited online reviews or ‘before and after’s, being unable to answer questions in simple terms and not explaining the results of x-rays.
But ‘green flags’ include answering questions in depth, high levels of client feedback, a full treatment plan issued, a detailed consultation and discussion about outcomes, and full post-operative instructions.
He mentioned it is also critical that the dentist has been able to explain to make sure you understand the difference between a ‘crown’ and a ‘veneer’ - terms which are often confused when people go to ask for treatments.
Dr Patel said: "Before making any decisions there are some things to ask yourself. Is it cheaper? If anything does not go to plan, lots of patients have inflamed gums, bite issues, root canal treatment and pain - meaning Turkey Teeth may well end up being more costly in the long run.
"Do consider that many dentists in the UK may not want to treat you after, as in order to become responsible for you long-term, any defective dental work would need to be replaced. Are you willing to live with a compromised result due to having this all done in one sitting?"
Dr Patel’s top tips before getting dental treatment done abroad
1. Check local regulations on dentistry.
2. Don’t go by what influencers have visited – they are often offered their treatment for free in order to promote a clinic, so their promotion of the treatment can be compromised as a result of their financial relationship with the clinic.
3. Look to see if the clinic is registered with the country’s national cosmetic association.
4. Check if your dental work is guaranteed.
6. Understand that if anything happens you will need to go back there and consider how easy it is for you to travel back to that place if needed.
7. Check to see the dentist’s case studies.
8. Make sure you know which dentist you will be seeing and research the dentist ahead of time.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
10. Make sure you receive the right dental care in a safe environment.