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A dental trend known as ‘Turkey teeth’ that involves travelling abroad to get drastic cut-price treatment is leaving thousands of Britons facing painful complications.
The latest cosmetic fad, made popular by stars like Katie Price and Love Island’s Jack Fincham, involves filing down teeth to pegs then replacing them with crowns or veneers.
The procedure, which leaves patients with a Hollywood smile, is being fuelled on social media under the hashtag #Turkeyteeth which has been viewed more than 100million times.
But a new BBC documentary has looked at the fallout, asking whether the risks really outweigh the savings on having cheaper treatment, with UK dentists warning the complications can leave patients with huge medical bills to fix shoddy work.
A number of dentists surveyed on behalf of the BBC said some of the remedial work was provided by the NHS.
Meanwhile one private clinic has urged patients to be certain they know what they are getting after being contacted by clients who had been sold veneers but given the much more aggressive option of crowns.
The Harley Street Smile Clinic in London said they had been inundated by young people suffering from severe infections, intense long lasting pain, infected gums or rotting teeth due to the procedure.
A dental trend called ‘Turkey teeth’ which involves travelling abroad to get drastic cut-price treatment is leaving Brits facing painful complications. Pictured: Lisa Martyn from Ireland who has been left in pain after getting cut-price dental work done while on holiday in Turkey
In one case, Tiktok user Lisa Martyn revealed how her experience turned into a nightmare after she travelled to Turkey for the cosmetic treatment and paid 3,500 Euros (£2,960) for what she thought was veneers but was actually a set of crowns.
She told the BBC: ‘I was duped into the dream of having a full set of perfect teeth that I was never going to have any issues with but I was grossly misled about what I was having done – they were sold to me as veneers not a full set of crowns.
‘No one sat down and told me the risks or if there were any other options. I thought that once they put the new teeth into my mouth that would be it – there would never be any more problems.
‘But not only have I been in crippling pain every day since, but it has also cost me thousands. It’s the biggest mistake of my life.’
Lisa flew to Turkey last year under the belief she would be fitted with 26 veneers in a bid to get the ‘Hollywood smile’ for her son’s wedding but was actually fitted with crowns – a far more invasive procedure.
But months after her treatment, the 48-year-old was left in horrific pain after developing an abscess which nearly paralysed half her face and is suffering from nerve sensitivity.
This graphic shows how a tooth is shaved down slightly to make room for a thin veneer
Pictured: Lisa Martyn revealed her experience turned into a nightmare after she developed an abscess that nearly paralysed half her face (left) and developed a painful infection
Love Island’s Jack Fincham was one of the first to share his Turkey Teeth story after getting the treatment before appearing on the ITV reality show in 2018. Pictured: Before and after
Describing the work on her social media channel, she said: ‘I never in my life experienced anything like it.
‘They were drilling then, banging and hammering. I was jumping out of that chair for two hours.
‘No one asked how I was or even offered me a drink of water. My mouth was so swollen it was like a horror movie.
‘I was numb from my neck up to the top of my nose but I could still feel the sensation. I still didn’t know that all my natural teeth were filed down and these were crowns, not veneers. It was only after I returned home, that I was told by a UK dentist.
‘Now I’m still in pain and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will have to have dentures and live with pain every day. I wanted to look nice for my son’s wedding but now I would give anything to just know that day I won’t be in agony.’
According to the BBC, she is unable to eat properly and has lost more than two stone since the treatment.
Lisa shared her story on Tiktok to raise awareness about the dangers of going abroad for cheap treatment and says the cost of fixing her teeth will financially cripple her.
Assistant video editor Alicia Watts also travelled to Turkey to get work done on her teeth five years ago and for a long time considered it the best decision she had made.
But this year, the 27-year-old has started to suffer from constant pain and multiple infections with her regular dentist in the UK who said the dentist in Turkey had done an ‘awful job’ and said she needed £650 of work done to fix the damage.
She told MailOnline: ‘In 2017 I went to Antalya, Turkey and I was fitted with a full set of crowns, minus a few back teeth.
‘I paid between £3,000-£3,500 – it was a bit more because I got a stronger material called zirconia.
‘I was actually very happy with them and I saw my UK dentist straight after who also said they looked fine.
‘At the time I said to everyone that it was the best decision I had ever made because they looked so perfect.’
Although she was happy with the treatment, Alicia said it was extremely painful and described it as ‘the worst pain I’d ever been in’.
Pictured: Alicia Watts travelled to Turkey to get work done five years ago and for a long time considered it the best decision she had made but is now suffering from constant pain
Alicia paid up to £3,500 for a full set of crowns at a dentist surgery in Turkey but a private specialist in the UK said the treatment was poor and quoted £650 to have remedial work done
She added: ‘For 2 days I was crying in my hotel room because of the sensitivity of the teeth after they shaved them down and I couldn’t stop bleeding but when I went back to the UK they were fine and for years they have been fine.
‘However, 5 years later and I’m starting to be in constant pain due to tooth ache. I had an infection about 5 months ago which went away with antibiotics but now I’m in pain again.
‘I went to a private dentist who said whoever fit the crowns did an awful job and I had another infection which has gone deeper into the tooth and gums, and that I needed an urgent root canal.’
Alicia declined the remedial work, which was not available through the NHS, because she couldn’t afford the £650 it was going to cost.
She said: ‘He said if I keep going this way my teeth will eventually fall out due to a build up of plague and infection underneath the teeth.
‘My regular NHS dentist said they cannot do a root canal for me because of my crowns and the material of my teeth and told me I had to go to a private specialist.
Smile! The former glamour model, 42, disregarded her old gnashers while in the dentists chair at a surgery as she declared she no longer needed them and got new veneers in August 2020
‘I’m on antibiotics again for the pain but I’m worried it will never go away and I won’t be able to fix my teeth because I can’t afford it.’
The treatment has proven popular with social media influencers and TV stars including model Katie price.
In August 2020, she shared a video which showed that her natural teeth had been shaved down to points which she said made her look like a James Bond villain before she had new veneers fitted while in Turkey.
The treatment was carried out after her original veneers fell out. However, in October that year, she had to go back to Turkey again after some of her new veneers fell out.
A spokesman for the star told the Sun at the time she had to return to Turkey to get the work fixed.
Love Island star Jack Fincham also received treatment in Turkey before appearing on the ITV reality show.
After the Love Island winner discussed his Turkey Teeth in 2018, Google searches for the term sky-rocketed.
Mr Fincham travelled to the Turkish city of Antalya five years ago, saying in a Love Island promotion video ‘I absolutely love my pearly whites.
‘I went all the way to Turkey to get these. I come back with a winning smile and a nice little holiday.’
But in the new BBC Three documentary ‘Turkey Teeth: Bargain Smiles or Big Mistake,’ he admitted he would ‘do it differently’ and showed off how his teeth had been filed down for his veneers.
He said that he receives lots of messages from people asking about the work he had done, and told the BBC that he now tells them about his own experience.
Speaking to the documentary’s host Dr Trishala Lakhani, a dentist as well as Miss Universe GB, he said: ‘I flew out there in the winter time, not the holiday season, and pretty much everyone on the flight was going to get some sort of procedure done.’
He got the work done despite knowing about the risks that come with veneers – such as a higher risk of requiring root canal work done or his teeth being removed.
‘They mentioned all this stuff and it didn’t put me off. It was for cosmetic purposes, so I was probably being a bit vain,’ he admitted.
On the procedure itself, he said it ‘can be quite uncomfortable’. ‘You have loads of injections to numb your mouth. It’s not an easy procedure. You have to do your research.’ He added: ‘Honestly, I love my teeth, but going back, if someone said, ‘Would you have the composites or just get crowns done?’ I’d get that.’
A survey carried out for the BBC found that hundreds of dentists in the UK had treated patients suffering from complications after getting work done abroad.
Dr MJ Rowland-Warmann, director of a dental clinic in Liverpool, told the broadcaster: ‘If I did 20 crowns on a 21-year-old for the purposes of improving the colour, I would have my licence revoked, I would be struck off.’
She said her clinic receives one to three calls a day from people with issues with their teeth after going abroad but that her clinic cannot treat them.
‘Some can’t floss because their crowns are stuck together or they’re in pain because they have bleeding gums.
‘But it’s easier for us not to take that patient. At the point when you inherit that patient and do any work, that’s when the problems really start and that’s when the UK dentist becomes liable. A risk we cannot take.
Pearly whites: Model Katie Price flew to Turkey to have matching his and hers veneers with her boyfriend Carl Woods in the summer of 2020 (pictured just before her holiday)
‘This leaves patients in very vulnerable positions trying to scrabble around for help and it becomes very costly trying to fix the damage.’
Dr Maurice Johanne, Principle Dentist at Harley Street Smile Clinic, urged people to be careful about what treatment they were getting.
He said: ‘I can’t stress enough that people need to be 100 per cent clear about exactly what they are signing up for when they go abroad for cosmetic dental treatment.
‘Although patients are under the impression they are having veneers, in reality they are having crowns placed, which means much more aggressive tooth reduction.’
London-based dental clinic said that it has been ‘inundated’ with young people seeking to have their botched survey rectified.
Not everyone who receives treatment abroad suffers complications. The BBC spoke to Tilly Entwhistle from Manchester who said she was thrilled with her work after being compared to Bugs Bunny as a child.
However, she said since visiting a dentist back in the UK, she was told they would not touch her teeth as they did not want to take responsibility for any issues with the work done in Turkey.