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A Hollywood trend of the perfect smile has taken the world by storm in recent years, with dental tourism at an all-time high. Transport for London, along with Sadiq Khan have recently faced backlash for advertising ‘Turkey Teeth’. The advertisement, …
A Hollywood trend of the perfect smile has taken the world by storm in recent years, with dental tourism at an all-time high. Transport for London, along with Sadiq Khan have recently faced backlash for advertising ‘Turkey Teeth’. The advertisement, featuring a photo with the caption ‘If you can’t smile back, you should fly to Istanbul. Book now.’, had been running by TfL for an Istanbul based dental clinic Dentakay, which offers the ‘Hollywood Smile’ treatment.
The ‘Hollywood Smile’ treatment, also referred to as ‘Turkey Teeth’, is a controversial dental procedure, which involves filing down up to 70% of natural teeth to pegs and then replacing them with crowns or veneers. Whilst both veneers and crowns can improve the look and function of the teeth, the latter is far more invasive. A veneer is a very thin layer of porcelain, but can be made from other materials, and is usually chosen more for cosmetic procedures. A crown is roughly twice as thick and covers the whole tooth, with an average lifespan of 10-15 years. The procedure has left numerous people in pain and suffering complications such as:
Due to the treatment being done abroad, UK safeguards are not applicable. UK dentists are held to a high ethical and regulatory standard which allows patients financial support if things go wrong, a system not always present overseas.
Dr Trishala Lakhani, an NHS Dentist, warned against drastic cosmetic dentistry in her BBC documentary. The dentist examined the process by contacting 150 Turkish practitioners and 50 in the UK. Of the 120 Turkish clinics that responded, 70 suggested a crown or veneer treatment, whilst all of the 34 UK practices that responded said no treatment was necessary. The British Dental Association (BDA) conducted a survey of over 1,000 dentists and 86% had to treat patients with adverse outcomes from their treatment abroad, 1 in 5 also said that the hidden follow-up costs could reach more than £5,000.
Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, lead clinician for a private dental practice in Liverpool, commented: “Questions should be asked on if TfL have done their due diligence on keeping potential patients safe. It’s companies trying to make money on impressionable and often vulnerable people, who are unaware of the ramifications of what they are getting themselves into. This is very aggressive, ‘keep it for life or have problems forever’ dentistry.” The dentist has recommended that the advertisements should come with a disclaimer warning people of overseas dental or cosmetic treatment.
TfL is likely to have earned thousands from this ad. The transport network outsources its ad space to independent companies and then takes a cut of the money. A TfL spokesperson has stated that the campaign complies with the policy. They are also seeking guidance on whether any additional disclaimers are required for such ads.
We advise that anyone should carry out their own extensive research when considering treatment in the UK or abroad to prevent avoidable complications and protect the lifespan of their teeth.