What have they done? Flip side of Turkey’s dental boom

A dentist and his assistant work on a patient at a clinic in Istanbul. (AFP)
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Updated 13 October 2022

What have they done? Flip side of Turkey’s dental boom

  • Attracted by promise of perfect smile at an unbeatable price, thousands flock to Turkey every year

ISTANBUL: Briton Rida Azeem knew her dental trip to Turkey had gone badly wrong the second she took off her mask.

“My husband said, ‘What have they done to you? Your face is all sunk.’“

“I had big gaps underneath my gums and you could see all the metal bits (of the implants). It was done so badly it was unbelievable,” the engineer from Manchester said.

“Originally they were going to do five implants,” said Azeem. But when the treatment was about to start, the dentists told her they would “have to remove all your teeth.”

“They looked professional,” said the 42-year-old, who now has to wear false teeth.

Attracted by the promise of the perfect smile at an unbeatable price, 150,000 to 250,000 foreign patients flock to Turkey every year, according to the Turkish Dentists’ Association, making it one of the world’s main dental tourism destinations, alongside Hungary, Thailand and Dubai.

But the “Hollywood smile” sold by clinics in Istanbul, Izmir or Antalya often involves trimming — or even extracting — healthy teeth, sometimes taking all of them out.

“Many dental clinics in Turkey treat teeth that don’t need treatment,” the head of an Istanbul clinic, who did not want to be named, said. “They put veneers on teeth that only need bleaching or lightening, sometimes they even put full crowns.”

Azeem is far from the only foreign patient to have been left disfigured or in chronic pain.

Alana Boone, a 23-year-old Belgian woman who traveled to Antalya in July 2021, was one of five foreigners who suffered serious complications.

The 28 crowns she had done seemed fine, but only on the surface. They were “placed too deep. Now I have inflammation and pain every day... at times it is very intense,” she said.

“The only solution would be to remove everything but dentists do not know what they are going to find.”

Marie, a French nurse, felt she needed work on her lower teeth to boost her confidence after going through a separation. “I wanted to look more attractive,” she said.

But a Turkish dentist persuaded her to put crowns on her top ones too — 28 in total.

“I had very healthy teeth. I began to regret it all when they began to file my teeth,” she said.

“After about a month, the problems started: Teeth began to move, and food began to get stuck between them ... My breath is so awful that even mouthwash” doesn’t help, said the fortysomething.

The British Dental Association has sounded the alarm about the phenomenon, warning of the “considerable risks ... of cut-price treatment” abroad, warning of many cases of infections and “ill-fitting crowns and implants that fell out.”

Patrick Solera, of the French dentists’ union, said he was horrified to see influencers going to Turkey “to have their teeth trimmed.”

“You do not put a crown on a tooth that’s a little yellow, and trimming a healthy tooth to put a crown amounts to mutilation. In France they lock you up for that.”

But Tarik Ismen, of the association, insisted that Turkish dentists were only responding to a need. “Some people want to look like Hollywood stars and have a bright, fluorescent smile. If Turkish dentists are not going to do it for them, there are Albanian or Polish ones who will do it,” he said.

He said that botched surgery rates of “three to five percent is acceptable ... and could happen anywhere,” adding that not one of his association’s 40,000 dentists had been struck off.

“Turkish dentists are the best and the cheapest in the world,” declared Turker Sandalli, who pioneered dental tourism in Turkey 20 years ago.

He boasted that “not one tooth has been extracted in 12 years” in his Istanbul clinic, where 99 percent of the clientele are foreigners.

“But — and I am sad to tell you this — 90 percent of Turkish clinics go for cheap dentistry,” he said, accusing “2,000 to 3,000” illegal operators of blackening the name of industry.

Arab, Turkish foreign ministers call for urgent Gaza ceasefire during Canada visit

Updated 27 sec ago

Arab, Turkish foreign ministers call for urgent Gaza ceasefire during Canada visit

  • The delegation urged the international community to quickly assume its responsibility to protect civilians
  • It stressed the importance of ensuring relief corridors are secured

LONDON: A delegation of Arab and Turkish foreign ministers on Saturday reiterated the importance of an immediate ceasefire to return security and stability to the Gaza Strip during a visit to the Canadian capital.
The delegation, headed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, was received by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, before beginning an official round of talks with Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said.
The talks were also attended by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki and Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan.
The officials discussed developments in Gaza and their repercussions, as well as Israel’s military escalation against Palestinian civilians, the ministry said in a statement.
The delegation urged the international community to quickly assume its responsibility to protect civilians, adding that discussions around Gaza’s future and the Palestinian issue “must come after an immediate ceasefire and a calming of the unjustified military escalation.”
The delegation stressed the importance of taking serious steps to ensure the securing of relief corridors for the delivery of urgent humanitarian, food and medical aid to Gaza.
It also stressed the importance of creating political conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and rejected discussing Gaza’s future separately from the wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The delegation — made up of officials from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye and the Palestinian Authority — on Friday met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after Washington vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Health officials in the besieged enclave on Saturday said the death toll had surpassed 17,700, with 70 percent of the dead being women and children, while more than 46,000 had been wounded.
The majority of Gaza’s population of more than 2 million have been forced to flee their homes.

’Bring them home’: Israelis call for hostages’ release

Updated 51 min 8 sec ago

’Bring them home’: Israelis call for hostages’ release

  • Demonstrator Yoav Zalmanovitz said the government “did not care” about the hostages
  • Eli Eliezer said the government should have prioritized returning the hostages over pressing its war against Hamas

TEL AVIV: Hundreds of Israelis gathered in what has come to be known as Hostages Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday to call for the release of nearly 140 people still being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
As speakers took to the stage, those in the crowd held placards bearing messages like “they trust us to get them out of hell,” and “bring them home now.”
Ruby Chen, the father of 19-year-old hostage Itai Chen, said from the podium: “We are asking the Israeli cabinet, the war cabinet, to explain what exactly is on the negotiating table.
“We demand to be part of the negotiation process,” added Chen, whose son is a solider and was taken while on duty.
“Get them out now, immediately, whatever the price might be.”
Demonstrator Yoav Zalmanovitz said the government “did not care” about the hostages.
“They want revenge,” he told AFP.
Zalmanovitz’s 85-year-old father, Arye, was taken alive to Gaza and “murdered” there weeks later, Yoav said.
Hamas dragged around 240 hostages back to Gaza during its bloody October 7 attack on Israel, and fears for their safety have gripped the public through eight weeks of war.
A one-week truce deal that ended on December 1 saw 105 hostages released from Gaza, among them 80 Israelis — mostly women and children — freed in exchange for 240 Palestinians jailed by Israel.
However, efforts to revive the deal have stalled, and Israel says at least 137 hostages are believed to still be in Hamas captivity.
In the crowd on Saturday, Eli Eliezer, who said he had a relative among those still being held, told AFP the government should have prioritized returning the hostages over pressing its war against Hamas.
“They should have made a deal earlier,” the 61-year-old engineer said. “It’s the government’s job to keep its people and its land safe.”
Earlier on Saturday, 25-year-old Sahar Baruch, who hailed from one of the kibbutzim hit hardest on October 7, became the latest captive to be confirmed dead.
He was “kidnapped from his home by Hamas terrorists to Gaza... and murdered there,” the community of Beeri and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a joint statement, without providing evidence.
The day before, Hamas had posted a video purporting to show Baruch’s body, saying he was killed during a failed rescue attempt. AFP was unable to independently verify the video’s authenticity.
In late October, Israeli soldier Ori Megidish, 19, was rescued in a military operation just over three weeks after she was kidnapped from an observation post on the heavily militarised Gaza border.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in retaliation for the October 7 attack, which Israeli officials say killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
Its relentless bombardments and ground campaign in the Gaza Strip have killed at least 17,700 people, also mostly civilians, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Tunisia says it has intercepted 70,000 Italy-bound migrants in 2023

Updated 30 min 12 sec ago

Tunisia says it has intercepted 70,000 Italy-bound migrants in 2023

  • Tunisia, alongside Libya, is the principal departure point for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe

TUNIS: Close to 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy this year, more than double the 2022 figure, the Tunisian National Guard told AFP on Saturday.
Tunisia, alongside Libya, is the principal departure point for thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe.
The number intercepted by Tunisian authorities was 69,963 for the first 11 months of 2023, compared to 31,297 in the same period last year, according to data from the National Guard.
Foreigners made up 78 percent, while the rest were Tunisians.
That was a significant shift from 2022, when 59 percent were foreign migrants.
The exodus accelerated in February after Tunisia’s President Kais Saied denounced the arrival of “hordes of illegal migrants” from sub-Saharan Africa whom he claimed were part of a “criminal plan” aimed at “changing the demographic composition” of the country.
The speech triggered a violent anti-migrant campaign, prompting several African countries, notably the Ivory Coast and Guinea, to repatriate thousands of their citizens, while many migrants attempted to flee by boat, leading to a number of sinkings.
Tunisia has been accused by the United Nations and humanitarian NGOs of “expelling” migrants to Libya and Algeria, which Tunisian authorities deny.
International humanitarian sources told AFP that at least 5,500 migrants have been expelled to the border with Libya and 3,000 to that with Algeria since June, including a large number caught trying to leave for Europe.
More than 100 migrants have died in the Libyan-Tunisian desert this summer, they said, adding that “collective expulsions to Libya and Algeria continue.”
Most of the intercepted migrants were caught on Tunisia’s eastern coastline close to Sfax, which is only around 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the Italian island of Lampedusa.
This summer, a wave of departures was triggered by a brawl in Sfax in which a Tunisian was killed, leading police to send hundreds into the desert.

Yemen’s Houthi militia threaten Israel-bound Red Sea ships

Updated 27 min 18 sec ago

Yemen’s Houthi militia threaten Israel-bound Red Sea ships

  • The Houthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets

SANAA: Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels threatened on Saturday to attack any vessels heading to Israeli ports unless food and medicine were allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip.
The latest warning comes amid heightened tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding waters following a series of maritime attacks by Houthi rebels since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7.
In a statement posted on social media, the Houthis said they “will prevent the passage of ships heading to the Zionist entity” if humanitarian aid is not allowed into Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The Houthis have recently attacked ships they claim have direct links to Israel, but their latest threat expands the scope of their targets.
Regardless of which flag ships sail under or the nationality of their owners or operators, Israel-bound vessels “will become a legitimate target for our armed forces,” the statement said.
Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said his country would not accept the “naval siege,” noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked US President Joe Biden and European leaders to take measures to address the situation.
“If the world will not take care of it,” Hanegbi warned on Israel’s Channel 12 television, “we will take action to remove the naval siege.”
Last week, the Houthis attacked two ships off the Yemeni coast, including a Bahamas-flagged vessel, claiming they were Israeli-owned.
And last month, the rebel forces seized the Galaxy Leader, an Israeli-linked cargo vessel.
“We warn all ships and companies against dealing with Israeli ports,” the latest Houthi statement said.
It added that all “ships linked to Israel or that will transport goods to Israeli ports” are not welcome in the Red Sea, a vital channel for global trade linked to the Suez Canal.
Beyond maritime attacks, the Houthis have launched a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Israel since the deadly attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas triggered all-out war.
The militants poured over the border into Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240 others, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, and launched a military offensive in Gaza that has killed at least 17,700 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.
The spike in maritime incidents prompted G7 foreign ministers at a meeting earlier this month to urge the rebels to cease threats to international shipping and to release the Galaxy Leader.

Lebanon border clashes intensify despite peace efforts

Emergency service members work at the site of Israeli shelling which hit a supermarket and a coffee shop in Adaysseh, Lebanon.
Updated 52 min 9 sec ago

Lebanon border clashes intensify despite peace efforts

  • Supreme Islamic Council condemns Israeli targeting of villages, farms
  • French delegation leads talks in Tel Aviv, Beirut in bid to restore calm

BEIRUT: Confrontations between Hezbollah militants and the Israeli army intensified on Saturday as talks continued in an effort to end the conflict on Lebanon’s southern border.

The Supreme Islamic Council, which includes Sunni figures in Lebanon, expressed concern about Israeli targeting of villages, towns, and farms in southern areas of the country.

The council met in Dar Al-Fatwa, chaired by the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian.

Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian. (AFP file photo)

In a statement, the council said that Israeli officials should be considered “perpetrators of war crimes and mass crimes against humanity, and subjected to international justice, to prevent the occurrence of these crimes elsewhere in the world.”

The statement came as a French delegation met with Lebanese leaders and security officials for a second day in a bid to settle the conflict.

The delegation visited Tel Aviv ahead of the talks, which seek to restore calm along the Blue Line as part of a commitment to implement UN Resolution 1701.

Speaking after the meeting, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said he notified the visiting French delegation of acts of Israeli aggression stretching back to 2006 and involving more than 30,000 violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

He called for the demarcation of the land border and an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Lebanese regions.

Bou Habib reiterated that Lebanese airspace should not be used to attack Syria, and highlighted the importance of supporting the Lebanese army in implementing the UN resolution.

The delegation from France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs is led by Frederic Mondoloni, director-general for political and security affairs, and includes Alice Rufo, director-general of external relations and strategy at the French Ministry of Armed Forces.

Israel stepped up its shelling of southern border villages on Saturday.

Homeowners and facility owners captured footage of the widespread destruction of property, with some houses in Odaisseh and Aita Al-Shaab leveled.

Some of the villages are believed to have been targeted preemptively by Israel in order to thwart possible attacks by Hezbollah.

After a night of Israeli shelling, Hezbollah resumed its strikes on Israeli military sites.

Hezbollah said it targeted Israeli soldiers near Metula “with appropriate weapons, causing direct hits.”

The militant group also renewed its shelling of areas in Ramyah, and said it struck an Israeli bunker, killing and wounding those inside.

It also targeted an Israeli army site in Ras Naqoura.

The killing of several fighters in the past 48 hours has lifted Hezbollah’s death toll to 95 since the beginning of its involvement in hostilities on Oct. 8.

Media reports said that three militants died when their car was targeted by an Israeli drone in Quneitra, Syria.

The Israeli army escalated its attacks on Lebanon, shelling Mount Labouneh with heavy artillery, according to a security source.

For the second time in recent days the Israeli army also targeted Lebanese army facilities.

Israeli shelling targeted an army hospital in Ain Ebel, according to the Lebanese Army Command, while an army site in Jidar, near Rmeish, was hit by two phosphorus shells, injuring two soldiers.

Three soldiers were injured when Israeli rockets struck the Intelligence and Naval Forces Center in Ras Al-Naqoura.

Israeli artillery also targeted the outskirts of the Kfarchouba village and the Zebdine outpost, with rockets being fired every 15 minutes.

Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee said that fighter jets hit a series of Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon, including the party’s operational headquarters.