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Perfect smile? Beware the risks of cheap dentistry

From being left in “constant pain” to developing “rotting gums”, fixing problems caused by cut-price cosmetic dentistry can end up costing much more than it would have cost to get the procedures done properly in the first place.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: June 9, 2024, 10:25 PM - 6 mins read

Perfect smile? Beware the risks of cheap dentistry

Perfect smile? Beware the risks of cheap dentistry

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How much would you pay for a perfect movie star smile? For some, trying to achieve dazzlingly white, uniformly straight teeth without a Hollywood budget comes at a cost to their health and their wallet.

 

The UK social media trend for “Turkey teeth” – named after influencers’ penchant for travelling abroad for budget veneers – may offer a cheaper alternative to more expensive cosmetic dentistry at reputable clinics – but it can come at the cost of oral health and may even prove life-threatening.

 

But the health risks don’t always outweigh the prospect of a gleaming grin. Naturally, teeth should be off-white because yellow-coloured dentin (the middle layer of the tooth – between the enamel and the pulp – that makes up most of the tooth’s structure) shows through the thin, tough, white enamel outer layer of the tooth.

 

But the natural colour of healthy teeth is currently unfashionable, and there’s a heavy demand for sparkly white veneers.

 

While many people are delighted with their new gnashers, there seem to be equally as many horror stories.

 

From being left in “constant pain” to developing “rotting gums”, fixing problems caused by cut-price cosmetic dentistry can end up costing much more than it would have cost to get the procedures done properly in the first place.

 

Ramazan Yilmaz discovered this when his tooth implants went disastrously wrong at a private clinic in Bursa, Turkey.

 

During surgery, the dentist allegedly “forced” the implant through Ramazan’s jawbone and into the area behind the eye where the brain and spinal fluid are located. According to reports, the dentist then took him to the emergency department of a local hospital and ran away.

 

But experiences don’t have to be as extreme as Ramazan’s to cause serious problems. Even the best cosmetic dentistry can lead to oral health problems if scrupulous oral hygiene isn’t maintained.

 

Poorly fitted veneers, for example, can allow plaque, food and drinks into the space between the veneer and the tooth, causing bad breath, staining, tooth decay and gum disease.

 

Gum disease is also linked to liver disease, chronic kidney disease, oral cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

 

Risky business There are several options to achieve the Turkey teeth look popularised in the UK by reality shows such as Towie and Love Island, from veneers to more invasive procedures such as crowns or implants that are screwed into your jawbone.

 

Veneers are thin shells applied to the surface of existing teeth to hide imperfections. They are the least invasive of cosmetic dental procedures but usually require enamel removal. Improper tooth preparation for this process leaves the tooth susceptible to decay.

 

There are different types of veneers, including porcelain, composite, and no-prep. No-prep veneers preserve tooth structure with minimal, if any, removal of enamel, but they tend to last only five to seven years. Well-fitted porcelain and composite veneers can last up to 20 years with proper care.

 

Dental crowns are permanent tooth-shaped caps that cover broken, worn-down, or damaged teeth. They are fitted over existing teeth, which are filed down to fang-like pegs.

 

Filing away the teeth removes the protective material that cushions the soft living tissues. This can open up these areas to pathogens, causing local or systemic infection, potentially resulting in death.

 

Similar risks exist for dental implants; however, these can take much longer to bond into your existing bone, and therefore, it may be months before any potential issues arise.

 

Dental implants are a permanent replacement for missing teeth or to support dentures. The implants are screw-like metal fixtures fastened surgically to the jaw bone beneath the gums.

 

Implants are expensive and challenging to fit. If fitted without proper attention to bite force and the way the mouth works when eating, they are prone to damage and fracture.

 

Replacing teeth can significantly change how bite forces are transmitted through the jaw bones and the rest of the face.

 

Bones take time to remodel, and because many people have all their teeth done at once, implants can cause a large-scale alteration of the mouth’s bony micro-structure. This can result in pain and discomfort in the gums, jaw joints, and facial muscles that can last for months. Dental implants can reduce bone in the mouth by up to 22 per cent three years after insertion.

 

Home free… or not. Cosmetic dental procedures can be risky, but so can the journey home. Patients undergoing restorative treatments like veneers should avoid flying for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

 

Those with implants and extractions – with no complications – should wait at least 72 hours before hopping on the plane home to limit the risk of swelling during the flight.

 

Anyone suffering from problem dental work on their return to the UK faces a serious complicating factor: who will fix any issues and to what extent? The UK's shortage of NHS dental provision means that dentists cannot help patients who’ve had faulty work done abroad.

 

The General Dental Council, the UK regulator for dental professionals, has put together a useful “need-to-know guide” for anyone considering overseas dental work.

 

Remember that while overseas cosmetic dentistry might seem like a bargain, it could be a very expensive—and painful—mistake. 

 

This article first appeared in The Conversation.




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