Q: I need some extensive dental work done and can’t decide whether to get it done in Dubai or back home in India, where it is considerably cheaper. Why is dental treatment so expensive?

We get asked this question all the time so this is a good time to set the record straight. There are many reasons why there is an apparent disparity in dental treatment costs in some countries in the subcontinent, parts of the Arab world, Thailand, Philippines, Mexico and others.

[If you're afraid of the dentist, laughter is your best cure]

First, lack of regulation. Most third-world countries do not have very strict laws governing healthcare especially when it comes to dentistry. Infection control is not very strict and many clinics there do not even have steam sterilisers, which are the bare minimum in infection control.

UAE Ministry of Health laws are very strict on this and a clinic that breaches these rules could be punished with heavy fines and can even be shut down for repeat offences. This works obviously in favour of public health; however, there are significant costs attached to this. It might sound shocking but something as simple as dental drills and the ultra-sonic handpieces used for cleaning the teeth are usually not sterilised in most clinics in the third world. They are just wiped down with alcohol wipes or equivalent and this is not acceptable since they come into close contact with blood and body fluids.

Second, training and regulation. All health professionals in the UAE are required by law to achieve a significant amount of time training themselves every year in courses and hands-on exercises in order to renew their licences. Dental assistants have to have a nursing or equivalent degree in order to be licensed. This is not a requirement even in countries such as the US, where short courses and even distance learning can be done in order to practise.

Then there are other reasons – overheads such as rent, utility, salaries and others in the UAE can be significantly higher than in many other countries. Also bear in mind that quality dentistry is something that lasts for a long time. If work done in a short vacation goes wrong, then you might end up paying a much higher fee for the repair and remake of low-quality work.

Dr Tanveer Ahmed is an implantologist, dental surgeon and medical director at New Ivory Dental and Implant Clinic. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.