Medical tourism – getting a dental implant in Bali

Medical tourism is booming as increasing numbers of people are electing to have procedures done overseas, usually because of the prohibitive cost of treatment in their home country. Although the data is unreliable, an estimated 750,000 people in America alone travel overseas for medical care each year.  I recently became a medical tourist …

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My missing front tooth

When the root supporting an old front crown cracked while I was in the UK on holiday, I had to have it extracted. I got a temporary false tooth on a plate made in the UK and was told my options were to have an implant or a bridge. I decided on an implant but had to wait at least four months for the site to heal. As I was gradually heading back to Perth in Australia where a front implant costs around AU$6,000, I researched getting a dental implant overseas.

Implants involve two main stages with a stay of a couple of weeks for each stage, so I decided on Bali because it is close to Perth and cheap to stay there. Dental implants are also about a quarter of the price of those in Australia. After doing a lot of research online and emailing some of the reputable dentists, I narrowed it down to two dental surgeries in Kuta – Dr Syamsiar Adam at Kuta Dental, and Bali 9-11.

I eventually chose Dr Adam as I had a recommendation from a friend who had recently had implants done by her … and she’d had a recommendation from a friend of hers. I’d also read an article on Weekend Notes about an Australian who’d had her abscessed teeth treated by Dr Adam and raved about her. Dr Adam is very experienced, having graduated in dentistry in 1992, and is the dentist of choice for expats living in Bali.

My first appointment with her was in August 2015. I stayed at Hotel Neo, a short walk from Kuta Dental on the same street (Jalan Patih Jelantik). When I arrived at the dingy looking building I felt a little apprehensive, but my friend had told me not to be put off by appearances. As soon as I met Dr Adam I felt confident. She had a calm, professional manner and spoke good English so was able to answer all my questions and explain what she would do on each of my visits.

Four days later I was back at the dental surgery for the implant operation. I was given an antibiotic tablet and a pain killer before the operation plus a jab and mouth numbing lotion before they started drilling. Once, when I winced, I was instantly given another jab. Throughout the procedure Dr Adam was very calm and hummed along to music, which I found very soothing, and her dental assistant was also very gentle, attentive and proficient.

Drilling the hole for the implant seemed to happen quickly (I was still waiting for the pain!) and then Dr Adam sewed the implant into place and fashioned a temporary tooth, as it was a front tooth I was missing. Altogether, I was in the chair for nearly two hours. When I left, I was given a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers (for only $30), and a follow up appointment four days later to check the healing process.

On my next visit to Bali, four months later, the temporary tooth Dr Adam had glued in was still firmly in place. She removed it and opened up the implant so she could take an impression for the crown. I was in the chair for 1.5 hours this time. Instead of putting the temporary tooth back, she adjusted my plate (that I had been wearing before I started the procedure) so I could use that as there were only 13 days until my next appointment to fit the crown.

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My new implant

Fitting the crown went well and took only 45 minutes. The tooth was a perfect fit, although I felt the colour could have been a bit better matched. My gum had receded after having no tooth for a year so a small portion of the screw is exposed, but this is above my smile line so you don’t see it. I could have a skin graft to hide it if I felt the need.

All in all, I was happy with my implant experience overseas. We stayed in Bali for two weeks on each trip. The two holidays cost me and my partner a total of around AU$4,000 (including flights) and the implant cost AU$1,500 – so it was still cheaper to get my implant done in Bali than Australia.

If you are considering getting medical treatment done overseas, there are several sites that offer advice and information, such as this useful UK based one: http://www.treatmentabroad.com/ If you do your research, it’s possible to get high quality procedures done overseas for a fraction of the price of developed world prices.