STEPPING into the “spotless” Turkish dental clinic, Amanda Turner looked forward to finally having the perfect, dazzling smile.
But just three weeks later the work left the mum of two close to suicide and in hospital with a chronic infection she is still recovering from.
The betting shop manager is one of thousands of Brits who have travelled to Southeastern Europe for “Turkey Teeth”, lured by cut-priced treatment, only to return with more problems than they left with.
Amanda, 34, from Belfast, warned: “It has been sheer hell.
“I want everyone to know what can happen with clinics after my life was nearly ruined.”
A Sun on Sunday probe can today reveal the growing obsession with pearly whites is creating a nightmare for the NHS and now costing it TENS OF MILLIONS a year to put right mistakes.
Returning British patients are not automatically entitled to NHS treatment.
Dentist Jeffrey Sherer, of the Dental Design Studio, said: “Rising numbers of people are signing up for cheap treatment abroad, thinking the NHS will pick up the pieces if things go wrong.
“If registered with an NHS dentist, a patient could be entitled to a certain level of care after treatment overseas to relieve any pain or discomfort.
“In the vast majority of cases, longer-term repair work would then need to be carried out privately due to the sky-high cost and complexity of procedures to reverse ops.”
He said the NHS mainly pays out for emergency and root canal treatment for teeth that develop infections from treatment abroad.
An astonishing 86 per cent of dentists have seen cases resulting from cheap work done overseas. And nearly half of all dentists said the repairs, which can cost up to £5,000 a time, were funded by the NHS.
One dentist told how patients from Turkey are turning up at his door like suitcases off an airport carousel.
Paul Woodhouse, of Grange Dental Practice in Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, said: “It’s a disaster zone. Tens of millions of pounds are being spent every year to rectify mistakes.
“I’ve a case of a patient who requires 20 replacement crowns. It will cost more than £20,000.
“It’s not fair the NHS is picking up the tab for these cases. The patients have made the choice to have usually unnecessary work carried out.”
Many who undergo treatment abroad do so in a bid to return home sporting smiles like celebs Katie Price and Love Island’s Jack Fincham, who have posted on social media about the dental treatment they received in Turkey.
Price had to return after some of her veneers fell out, leaving ugly stumps of her original teeth.
Another inspiration for a smile makeover is TV host Rylan Clark, who revealed his new look this year after having his veneers replaced at a London clinic.
Reality TV shows including Love Island and social media are also driving the obsession.
The hashtag #Turkeyteeth has more than 130million views on TikTok.
The craze is now so popular that many overseas firms offer Smile Now, Pay Later deals.
While some patients have horror stories to tell, there is no suggestion of negligence from any of the clinics that are featured here.
‘Close to suicidal’
Amanda was compelled to travel after years of trouble with her teeth and paid £3,050 for root canal work and 28 crowns at the Karat Dent clinic, Istanbul.
She jetted out on April 10 and paid in cash. Then after having her teeth filed down to stumps, she was fitted with a series of linked teeth similar to bridges, not the individual crowns she expected.
Amanda, mum to Connor, eight, and Cole, 22 weeks, said: “I had them attached to my ground-down stumps, but there were gaps underneath, so food could get caught under them.”
On arriving home she saw an emergency dentist who told her work to fix the mistake would cost at least £18,000.
In May she developed an infection and ended up in hospital.
She said: “I thought my life was over. I was close to suicidal. Then, when I thought things could not get worse, I developed a massive infection.
“I was admitted to hospital in chronic pain and was there for a week to have a drain fitted, the infection having spread into my neck.”
The Karat Dent clinic has been contacted for a response.
Dentist Jeffrey Sherer said of the new teeth trend: “Firstly there are those seeking cosmetic treatment based on peer pressure and trying to fit into popular culture.
“These tend to be younger patients who go abroad because either dentists in the UK refuse to provide treatment, as they feel it is not in the patient’s best interest, or because they cannot afford the private dental treatment here.
“Secondly, you have those who genuinely need treatment because of advanced problems.
“These tend to be older patients, and they genuinely need treatment such as crowns and implants but, due to their financial constraints, they cannot afford the cost of private dentistry in the UK.”
Actress and model Cherry Fox paid £2,600 for a set of 20 veneers at Mono Clinic in Izmir, a discounted rate in exchange for social media posts.
Cherry, 28, from Bristol, who is mum to Logan, five, said: “My teeth had some chips and yellowing I wasn’t happy with.
“When friends recommended Mono Clinic I did research and saw only glowing reviews.”
She flew out on April 25 and her veneers were fitted.
Cherry said: “They felt too big. The dentist told me this was part of the healing process. When we flew back my mouth was still so painful and bleeding. My first veneer fell out about two weeks later, when I was brushing my teeth.
“Two weeks after that five more veneers fell out. They are very visible and I can’t work.”
Cherry is facing a £15,000-plus repair bill. Mono Clinic did not respond to requests for a comment.
Around 35,000 people go abroad for dental care each year and business in Turkey is booming.
A report by analysts at Statista predicted the Turkish dental industry will be worth £589million next year, up £177million on ten years ago.
Coastal paradise Antalya is dubbed “Dentalya” as it is a hub for treatments.
Patients are taken around by private car to the clinics.
Later they lounge around their hotel pools in bandages.
One of the biggest firms is London-based Longevita UK, which arranges medical tourism to Turkey for hair transplants, cosmetic surgery and dentistry.
According to Companies House, Longevita’s assets rose from £5.6million in 2021 to £7.2million this year.
Last year founder and CEO Kagan Seymenoglu said: “Medical tourism has been on the rise the past ten years.
“I believe the major contributor to this is social media and the impact of FOMO — fear of missing out.
“You see a lot of influencers promoting cosmetic procedures on Instagram, and inevitably their actions boost demand.”
Longevita was contacted for a response.
Gambling with health
DENTISTS are aware that many people are struggling to access care and may be tempted to go overseas for cut-price treatment.
There are excellent dental clinics abroad.
Just be wary of those with the hard sell, where there is pressure to make a quick decision with no discussion of possible complications or aftercare.
Clearly a winning smile can give people huge confidence, but avoid celebs touting cheap and quick fixes abroad, which turn out to be anything but.
Treatment abroad may not be as cheap as it seems if it involves repeat visits, complications, legal fees and corrective work.
Instead of gambling with your health, the solution to lasting smiles may be simpler and cheaper closer to home.
Source: The Sun