What Is Dental Tourism?

Getting a tooth extracted or a root canal procedure during your vacation might not seem like a good idea but many individuals are opting for dental tourism for affordable dental health. In 2013 alone, 900,000 American citizens traveled overseas to get dental treatments.

Majority of individuals prefer to go overseas to attain the level of dental care they are unable to afford in their own country. Attaining dental treatments abroad can help individuals save up drastically in terms of dental costs. Some American dental plans offer certain amount of coverage for dental procedures abroad as well.

Dental Tourism

Dental tourism is traveling to another country to get dental treatment. It is considered a subset of medical tourism. Many individuals nowadays travel to other countries to attain dental care at lower costs.

Oral care in countries like America and Canada is rather expensive, which is the reason why many people prefer traveling to a less developed country to save up on dental care. There are numerous reasons why less developed countries have more affordable dental care.

The major factor is the lower cost of real estate in these regions, which is why dentists in those countries have lower amount of malpractice insurance and other related costs. In America, dentists have an expensive malpractice insurance which is mandatory, but this isn’t the case in Mexico. Other factors include less intervention of government, lower fixed costs, and decreased cost of labor.

The most preferred destinations for dental tourism are Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Moreover, the treatments people typically opt for dental tourism, include:

  • Dental Veneer – the thin layer that is attached to the frontal tooth for aesthetic fix
  • Root Canal – the infected part in the tooth is removed, cleaned, and sealed
  • Dental Bridge – to keep the fake teeth in its right place with the help of a bridge filling the gap of the missing tooth
  • Dental Crown – tooth caps covering the tooth after a filling or root canal procedure

Other dental procedures might also be conducted depending on individual cases.

Dental Care sign


Things to Consider

When opting for dental tourism, there are various things you should consider, including:

Sufficient Time – if you are going on a vacation or a business trip, and you are hoping to squeeze in a dental treatment in between, you need to ensure that you have enough time. Would it really be worth getting a dental treatment in a hurry, only to face problems when you are back in your country?

Second Opinion – have you been able to ask questions regarding the treatment? Has the dentist, you have selected, been able to answer all your queries and confusion properly? It is always ideal to get a second opinion regarding your treatment to make sure that the dentist you have selected is the right one for you.

Checking Credentials – it is important that you check the credentials and experience of the dentist before you plan your trip. Make sure you always go through the reviews and testimonials left by their former patients.

Discussing All Options – you need to properly discuss all your options and procedures, including the stages of treatment, x-rays, cost of all exams, and any other concern. It is also important to inquire about the materials the overseas dentist would use in the treatment. The materials used might not be approved by FDA in some of the less developed countries.

Hygienic Practices – make sure that the procedures being conducted in the overseas dentist’s office are in sterile conditions. Following hygienic practices are essential for your overall health. Moreover, you should also notify the dentist if you have had a recent major surgery or have an ongoing disease so that they can take the right measures.

Proper Budgeting – many people neglect to factor in the recovery time, as well as the cost of follow-up care. You need to add in all the factors, including visas, lodging, food, air travel, and other factors to create the right budget for your trip. Make sure you have sufficient time to recover from the procedure. You should also consider whether your treatment requires follow-up care. If you need follow-up care then traveling overseas for dental care might actually become more expensive than you anticipated.

Keep these factors in mind when deciding to travel to another country for dental treatments. You must also consider the fact that the procedure might not work out and you might have to see the dentist again. Would it be easy for you go for multiple visits? If the procedure is complex, would it better to go for a local dentist instead?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dental Tourism

The decision to opt for dental tourism should be taken spontaneously. You must conduct thorough research before deciding whether going overseas for dental treatment is more beneficial as compared to getting the treatment locally. Both advantages and disadvantages of dental tourism must be considered.

Some benefits of dental tourism include:

  • Reduced dental costs for the same care you can get locally
  • Enhanced choices given the amount of countries you can opt for
  • Enjoying an international trip
  • Good customer satisfaction as they want more foreigners to get treatments

Some disadvantages of dental tourism include:

  • The standards of dental care might be different then you are used to
  • The quality might not be as per the standards
  • Continuous care is difficult

While dental tourism has its pros, in some cases it might actually prove more expensive than getting the treatment locally. It is recommended to do your research and determine what would work best for you and your budget.

Some insurance plans also cover international dental treatment. You might not be able to avail full coverage dental plan but certain costs might be covered. Check your American dental plan policy to determine if overseas care is covered and how much.

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