Aims and objectives To determine the use of the Internet by patients attending a range of dental clinics to search for information regarding dental procedures, and also to investigate their interest in online dental consultations and 'dental tourism'. Methods A questionnaire was designed and randomly distributed to 520 patients attending the restorative dentistry, dental surgery and oral medicine clinics of Cork University Dental School and Hospital. Results Of the 520 questionnaires distributed, 500 were completed leading to a response rate of 96.2%. The majority of patients were familiar with using the Internet on a daily basis, with only 163 (32.6%) patients not using the Internet in their everyday lives. One hundred and seventy-seven (34.5%) patients either researched their presenting dental/oral condition or had a family or friend research their condition on their behalf. One hundred and eighty-five (37%) patients would consult with a dental practitioner online regarding an oral problem and a similar number (n = 186) of patients surveyed would consider using the Internet to plan trips abroad for dental treatment. Conclusion Practitioner-led direction for patients regarding quality information sources online is important. With the increased interest in travelling abroad for dental treatment, guidance for patients and practitioners regarding the legal and ethical issues pertaining to dental tourism is critical.