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2023-09-25 08:30:47

Dentistry: Boost your smile!

By Inese Timuka. 10.10.2009

Not so long ago, the wealthier citizens of developing countries used to visit the developed world and countries like the US and Europe to gain access to advanced medical care. But now it seems that a wave is reversing this trend.

It's now the western patients who are traveling abroad, to take advantage of First World healthcare at Third World prices. Taking into consideration the breathtaking speed of our lives, in which every minute is precious, why not combine the pleasant with the practical and visit a dentist while on vacation? to find out what treatments are on offer for your pearly whites in Riga, we visited several local dental clinics.

With the growing popularity of dental tourism, many people around the world, especially in the UK and the US, are looking for eye-catching dental treatment bargains in other countries. Long waiting times for treatment in their home countries are one of the factors stimulating such a phenomenon.
Dental surgeries in Riga, whether offering major or cosmetic treatments, can be scheduled within a few days, or a couple of weeks at the most. The recession has already forced several changes in the city’s professional medical scene, in a positive sense.
Experts we spoke to confirmed that specialists have become better available for their patients and their schedules are not as tight as they were only a year or two ago. In a recession, regular patients are more reluctant to spend money on dental treatment.
“Health is invaluable. The economic downturn will pass, but if you don’t take care of your health at the time, later you will pay double if not more,” warned Dr Valdis Vanags, founder of the Vanags Dental Clinic in Riga.
Accurate diagnostics and treatment planning are necessary to achieve satisfying treatment results. So what are the first steps?
“Usually our first communication with patients is through email,” said Andis Paeglitis, dentist and head of the well-established Center of Dentistry and Facial Surgery at Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital. His colleague, the maxillofacial surgeon Gints Saulitis, continued: “We require patients to send us x-rays and health information, and then we make an approximate plan for treatment according to the information we have.”
He explained that in most cases after a patient arrives at the clinic the plan remains unchanged or with minor changes. “If patients tell us simply that they want their teeth back, so together we find the best solution – fixed bridges, removable dentures or an implant.”
The best of these options is an implant, he said. The greatest benefit of dental implants is that they look and feel like natural teeth. Implants preserve the integrity of the facial structure by preventing the bone resorption that wouldnormally occur with the loss of teeth.
This is particularly important when a lot of teeth are missing. “In approximately 80% of cases it is possible to implant the missing tooth.
We take into consideration the health of the patient, serious diseases like diabetes and the structure of the jaw.” In cases where the size of the jaw is too small, it is possible to make “boneplastic”, in which the jaw bone is medically increased.
Asked about why so many dental patients are now coming to Latvia for
treatment, Paeglitis said that many are led by good recommendations from friends and colleagues. At their centre they have patients who return to them year after year.
“I can tell you from my own experience that way back at the beginning
of the nineties one foreign journalist was advised to come in for treatment, and every summer since then he has been coming back to us together with his family and friends for a holiday and a dental check-up. They tour the Old Town in the morning, and come to us in the afternoon. This and other examples show that we are good not
only at the Latvian level but also at the European level as well.”
The Center of Dentistry and Facial Surgery plans in few years time to open an office somewhere in Scandinavia to gain greater popularity and trust in that region. Consultants will help to arrange the necessary treatments for patients and consult them about the required tests before their arrival in Riga, saving a lot of time.
The center is part of Latvia’s biggest hospital, the Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital. It has a long history and as the name suggests it heals not only teeth but deals with facial injuries and inherited abnormalities too.

High-quality treatments
The quality of healthcare offered through medical tourism is always under debate. But many of these doubts are baseless given the state-of-the-art clinics offering safe medical treatment to patients.
In fact, some argue that treatments through dental tourism can be better than those ordinarily received in the US.
Sergejs Andrijevskis, dentist and head of the dental clinic Dental Art, said: “The US is a diversified country. You can receive the best treatment there as well as the worst.”
His clinic opened two years ago with the purpose of offering high-quality dental services, and they are already planning to move to larger premises located closer to the city center. This is not only because the current clinic feels too squeezed for space, but also because Andrijevskis is getting ever increasing interest from foreign patients.
”In the past our foreign patients were typically people who had their business interests or families in Riga,” he explains. “After receiving an excellent treatment for a good price they recommended our clinic to their relatives and business partners. Now the number of dental patients who come to us specifically for dental treatment is growing.”

At the Center of Dentistry and Facial Surgery, Paeglitis said that Latvian doctors always work on improving their professional environment and qualifications; they are not so conservative and are willing to work hard. As evidence of this he points to an absolutelybrand new state-of-the-art operational block at his center.
“New operational theaters are much more spacious than they have been before and this will help to gain even higher quality in patients’ treatment as well as improving work conditions for surgeons,” he said.

Affordability and guarantees
As the old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”, and when you’re bargain hunting you should be aware of how such phenomenal discounts are being achieved. The service price is expensive because it depends on expensive equipment and expensive materials.

The only factor that makes prices cheaper in Latvia is the cost of the workforce.
Andrijevskis has noticed that most often foreign patients decide to come to Latvia for dental holidays if the price for treatment in their home country exceeds EUR 5,000. “Here we will do the same treatment for approximately EUR 2,000.”
Even when the cost of the plane ticket and accommodation is figured in, treatment in Riga can still be significantly cheaper than back home. The difference is great, especially when it comes to treating many teeth.
Asked about the approximate time from extracting a tooth to having a brand new one fitted, Saulitis said: “Treatment will be made according to the plan, but we always try to decrease the length of care – though the process of biological healing, for example after tooth extraction, unfortunately we cannot change.”
Speaking about guarantees, all our experts came back to the topics of biology, the patient’s general health and his habits. “Instead of giving guarantees in medicine, we talk about forecasts!” said Saulitis.
According to statistics, 96 percent of implants remain in place longer than 10 years, while the figure for a dental bridge is closer to 70 percent.
“But what can I really guarantee is that I will implant a certified implant with a lifetime guarantee from the producer that meets all the safety criteria,” Saulitis said. “I guarantee that I will implant it according to world practice and I will always work according to my best conscience. If complications happen to arise, we will never refuse help.”
Moreover, advancements in communication allow doctors to virtually assist patients with post-treatment care even
when living miles apart from each other. This nullifies many of the aspects held against medical tourism and gives an overseas patient more reasons to travel to Riga for dental treatment and recuperation.
In conclusion it seems that the potential for dental tourism in Latvia is still high. Remember that this country is part of the European Union, ensuring that all medical services including dentistry are of the highest order, provided by talented and educated specialists. Add to this the fluency in multiple languages including English, Russian, German, and sometimes Italian and French, and you can clearly see a bright
future for the treatment of foreign dental tourists – and all for a fraction of the price in Western Europe. Medicine and relaxation welcomes new clients to Latvia! Try it out yourself!