Q: My dentist sent me to a specialist for implants. The specialist advised me I needed four. That didn’t surprise me, but the cost as you know is budget stretching. My family has a place in Mexico and things are much cheaper there. Is it a bad idea to get my implants and crowns done there?
A: You ask a fair question and the best answer is I don’t know; that is to say I don’t know every case. Having said that, I have many anecdotal experiences that may give you perspective and guidelines if you go ahead with treatment outside North America.
Accreditation in North America ensures that graduating dentists have been exposed to and practice surgical techniques that are considered the highest standards known in the profession. Instruments and materials correspond to those practices in quality. When treated abroad you want to make sure doctors in foreign countries have been trained to those levels and are using the best techniques and materials.
A woman in her seventies came to my office for an exam and dental cleaning. At first glance this woman had a lot of crown work that looked new. On enquiry she beamed that it was done in Mexico eight months earlier, at one-tenth the cost estimated here in Victoria. I was impressed by her savings but when I looked at the x-rays and started feeling the edges of the crowns I could not believe my eyes. Every single tooth showed massive decay. She was literally days away from losing her new crowns. When she saw the problem she was heart broken.
Lest you think this happened some time ago and surely this does not happen now, I had a patient in last week who went to the Philippines to have her implants placed. She came into the office because she thought a crown had come loose. Upon x-raying the area and taking a clinical look, we found that the whole implant and crown complex was about to fall out. All we could do was extract the implant and its attached crown. We had a major job removing the inflamed diseased tissue left by the extraction. On top of that a diseased hole into the sinus was left. She chose the Philippines because of cost.
Space does not allow me to explain the problems with technique or materials, suffice it to say, every rule in the book was broken. I could go on and on with numerous cases that I’ve seen and continue to see. I advise you to be cautious and do your research.