A Belfast woman has warned against opting for cosmetic dental treatment abroad after being left in pain and facing an £18,000 bill to fix the issue.
manda Turner (34) visited Karat Dent, a cosmetic dentistry clinic in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month after pregnancy left her teeth needing significant treatment.
She explained: “My teeth were breaking. I was in pain and needed lots of root canals.
“I had discussed having cosmetic procedures with my dentist here, but they said all my treatments were going to take some time to fix.”
Facing multiple appointments over six months, along with hefty bills for treatment and childcare issues, Amanda turned to dental tourism — something that is becoming more popular across the UK.
This is when people visit foreign countries, primarily Turkey, for cheaper dental procedures such as veneers and crowns.
Amanda said: “I said to my dentist about how I had a lot of friends who travelled to Turkey to get dental procedures, and how they were only away for a week and everything was done quicker and cheaper.
“It was my family who encouraged me to go to Turkey, come back pain-free and get it all over and done within a week.”
She then consulted with the Karat Dent clinic, which has over 20,000 followers on social media, and made arrangements for an individual crown treatment, which also included a hotel stay.
It was only when she touched down in Istanbul that her ordeal began. Now Amanda needs extensive pain medication to get through the day.
“It could not have gone any worse, honestly. No one tells you about the horror stories — you only hear about the good results,” she said.
After arriving, Amanda visited the clinic that same afternoon for what she believed would be a consultation.
She added: “Nothing was really well explained. I arrived, got my X-rays and the next thing they told me to just get into the chair. I was given pain relief and thought the dentist was just going to look at some of the root canals I told them about, but the next thing he started to file away at my teeth.
“It was awful. I didn’t have enough pain relief. I was barely numb and I started to cry.”
Amanda said she was then given more pain relief medication through an injection and sent back to her room. She said the entire experience was nothing like what she had expected. “I had no temps (a set of disposable teeth used to hide filed-down teeth while awaiting veneers and crown placement) in and I was so sore,” she added. “I think after I must have slept for about three days. It was even sore to breathe.”
After a painful few days of rest, in which she said she could barely eat and had resorted to sucking the toppings of pizza slices just to ease pain medication consumption, Amanda was taken back to the dental clinic for the fitting of her new teeth.
Initially advertised to her as a “Hollywood smile”, Amanda soon noticed that her “new teeth” were a set of bridges — a row of porcelain teeth generally used to fill a gap of a couple of teeth — and not the individual crowns she had expected.
She said: “I actually thought it was my temps that I was finally getting.
“There were just these rows of teeth sitting. The dentist said these were my new teeth, but I just kept saying no. I actually thought he was joking.”
Once back in Northern Ireland, Amanda made an emergency appointment with her dentist, only to be told it would cost tens of thousands of pounds to correct the issues.
“My dentist actually said they have never seen anything like it and doesn’t understand why my teeth were all filed down,” she explained.
“He said the bridges are not connected properly and told me it was going to cost around £18,000 for all my treatments and take about six months to correct. I just started crying. I don’t know if I will be able to cope with the pain I’m in for six months.”
The General Dental Council, which regulates UK dental treatment and dentists, has advised against travelling abroad to have dental surgery.
It says all surgeries carry an element of risk and those practising dentistry abroad do not always have to be registered with a governing body, meaning patients risk malpractice.
Amanda is now faced with months of corrective treatments to help ease her pain and fix her teeth.
She said she hopes to take legal action, but has stressed she wants to make it clear she is not seeking any financial help through fundraising pages, nor was she paid for this article.
Amanda said she feared people would find themselves in a similar situation.
She added: “I just don’t want anyone else making this mistake. Please look into just getting treatments here and think twice before you do anything.”
Karat Dent did not comment.