Beware of language barriers, dental tourists warned

People are being warned of the dangers that language barriers could hold when traveling abroad for dental treatment.

This is because language barriers can lead to miscommunication regarding their medical history.

As a result, people are being advised that dentists should always ask about your general health and medical history. This includes whether you’ve suffered serious illnesses in the past, details of any medication prescribed, smoking history and your previous surgery and anaesthetics history.

In the last year, two Irish patients who underwent dental work in Turkey have died following procedures. The causes of their deaths, which occurred while they were in Turkey, are unknown.

According to the Turkish Dental Association, up to 250,000 people travel to Turkey from other countries every year to have dental work done.

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Treatment complications

Dr Caroline Robins, president of the Irish Dental Association, said: ‘If dentists have limited access to your past medical history and possible unfamiliarity with your drugs and medicines, this may pose challenges if complications in treatment arise.

‘There are plenty of good dentists abroad, but there are also those preying on the commercialisation of those who want their teeth fixed. It’s like a conveyor belt, you’re in and you’re out… sometimes you might be concerned that the pertinent questions aren’t being asked. It’s being seen as a transaction, it’s not a professional relationship.’

‘The key to all of it is understanding the patient and their medical history. For example, if I had a patient who had uncontrolled blood pressure, I wouldn’t use a local anaesthetic that contains adrenaline, as this could cause problems.

‘If patients are going to a place where there may be a language barrier, important information like that can get lost.’

This article first appeared in Irish Dentistry magazine. Read the latest issue here!

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