How Dental Tourism Ruined Lisas Teeth

By: Sharon Bell

When her husband Mark Beggs offered to pay for her bridge work, Lisa Hewer, 38, was excited. But the high cost of dental treatment in Britain was too much for them.

Lured by the growing popularity of dental tourism, Hewer decided to have her teeth fixed in another country. That would enable her to save money and give her the opportunity to travel at the same time. It was an offer that was hard to resist.

The couple decided to travel to Hungary, one of the many travel destinations of people seeking affordable dental care. Other popular destinations for dental tourism include India, Africa, Mexico, Thailand, and Costa Rica.

The dentist there charged Hewer ?3,500 for a full bridge for her upper teeth including the preparation of her existing teeth, tooth whitening and replacement of five mercury fillings. That was a bargain indeed considering that she would spend from ?18,000 to ?48,000 to have her teeth fixed in Britain.

"When we spoke to the managing director (of the dental travel agency) he was very helpful, reassuring us that the dentists in Hungary were highly trained and follow-up care was always provided," Hewer said.

"On August 12 the couple flew out to the Hungarian town of Szombathely for treatment. The dental work involved filing down all of Lisa's remaining upper teeth ready for her permanent bridge and took four days. All questions were translated through an interpreter," reported Alison Smith-Squire in the Daily Mail.

After the treatment, Hewer was delighted with her new smile but she was also bothered by the pain she felt in her upper teeth. The dentist told her not to worry since this was normal and would disappear in 14 days.

But the pain never disappeared and got worse after Hewer returned home. The manager of the travel agency said it was caused by the gum adjusting to the new bridge. Still, the pain remained after two weeks.

"The dentist said I needed an X-ray and the following day we were told we could go back to Hungary to see what the problem was. However, we'd have to fork out whatever the cost was to put it right. Mark and I were furious, as we had always understood that after-care would be included in the initial cost," Hewer narrated.

By now, Hewer's face had doubled in size with swelling and Beggs took her to a hospital. There, the couple discovered the ugly truth.

"I couldn't open my left eye. My face was so swollen it looked as if I'd been beaten up. The hospital dentist was shocked. An X-ray showed that the Hungarian dentist had filed down too much upper front tooth and killed the nerve," Hewer said.

"He explained that when the nerve dies it decays and causes an infection and because the tooth no longer has any circulation, the body cannot fight it. Left another few days without antibiotics, the infection could spread to the bone," she added.

Hewer learned that her other teeth were affected and she would need root canal treatment costing ?8,000 to get things right.

"It is devastating. It now looks increasingly likely that I will need to have all my teeth removed and wear dentures because Mark and I simply cannot afford to have the costly root canal work," Hewer said.

If you are considering dental tourism, look around before making a decision. That way, you can avoid the bad eggs. Remember that you have nothing to lose except your teeth!

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