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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 11:41 GMT
Taking a bite at foreign dentists
By Raymond Buchanan
BBC Scotland

Marilyn Gardiner receiving treatment
Marilyn Gardiner has visited Poland nine times for treatment
Most travellers dread a visit to a clinic in a foreign land.

Increasingly, however, many Scottish visitors to Poland are making this the focus of their trip.

Long queues for access to dentists back home, cheap flights and bargain prices for treatment have produced the phenomenon of the dental tourist.

Marilyn Gardiner is in this group. Frustrated by what she describes as long waits and poor service near her home in Aberdeenshire, she booked herself into a clinic in Warsaw.

She is now on her ninth trip.

Mrs Gardiner said: "The shortage of dentists in the north east of Scotland means that the waiting lists for seeing a dentist are incredibly long.

"One could have to wait two or three months even under the standard system and we were just not satisfied with that."

To do the same thing as we do here in Scotland or Great Britain would be three to five times more expensive
Dr Thomas Foik
Warsaw dentist

At the IQ Medica centre in Warsaw they say most of their foreign patients come from Scotland.

Head of the clinic, Dr Thomas Foik, is not a fan of Scottish dental care.

He insists Polish teeth are generally in better condition.

That is because of what he describes as the ease of access to services compared to the inconsistency of NHS treatment.

Asked why Polish dentistry is proving so popular amongst Scots, he said: "Usually our prices are for high quality materials and they are usually compared on the internet with Scottish prices for low cost materials.

"To do the same thing as we do here in Scotland or Great Britain would be three to five times more expensive."

Be cautious

Polish dentists have a good reputation and are often in demand by the NHS.

Those who choose to stay home are expecting a boom - the number of dental tourists is expected to increase by 20% in the next year.

If this trend increases then it could prove a threat to private practices in Scotland.

Marilyn Gardiner
Mrs Gardiner is confident in the quality of the work she has received

The British Dental Association (BDA) urged those thinking of travelling abroad for treatment to be cautious.

They warned that if any complications develop when patients are home they may find Scottish surgeries wary of taking them on.

Dr Kieron Fallon, from the BDA, said: "You may find that dentists here would be reluctant to take on responsibility for extensive treatment that was done another dentist, particularly one overseas.

"That is one of the potential problems, finding aftercare in this country for treatment that was done abroad."

However, patients such as Marilyn Gardiner are not worried about that.

She is confident in the quality of the work she has received and believes the effort involved in travelling abroad is less stressful than the inconvenience of waiting for treatment in Scotland.

VOTE RESULTS
Would you go abroad for dental treatment?
Yes
 40.41% 
No
 51.64% 
Not sure
 7.95% 
4289 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Pole survey attracting thousands
14 Dec 07 |  North East/N Isles
Aberdeen to get new dental school
08 Jun 07 |  North East/N Isles

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