Is Dental Tourism Really Worth It?
A growing number of consumers are leaving their home countries to seek dental care elsewhere. In particular, they rely on the dental services provided in other countries for costly procedures like dental surgeries or implants. They often make a vacation out of the experience while they are there. This has become known as dental tourism or dental holidays.
The act of dental tourism usually involves leaving a high-cost country to visit a low-cost country. Patients who reside in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Austria are some of the most common dental tourists in the world. In most cases, the combined cost of the vacation and the dental services are cheaper than the dental services alone in their home country.
Dentists in these low-cost countries are using the growing trend of dental holidays to increase their business. They strive to provide high-quality services at the lowest price possible. Price is usually the driving factor for dental tourism, but of course, patients want to avoid seeking medical care from a sub-par facility or from someone without proper training.
Required training, health code regulations, building regulations, and other legal differences are responsible for most of the risk associated with dental tourism. Much of this can be mitigated with diligent research and planning. Spur of the moment dental holidays have the potential to lead to even more problems. Much of this depends on the country where the patient will travel and how dental practices are regulated there.
Where And When Is It Worth It?
Financially speaking, dental tourism is worth it anytime a patient can find significantly cheaper medical services in a nearby country. For some countries, dental tourism has a very high potential for saving, but in some countries, the potential savings are much lower. Likewise, some countries are not worth traveling to for dental procedures.
In Australia, most patients choose to travel to smaller countries in South-East Asia. Thailand is one of the most common dental holiday destinations for Australian residents. In America, patients often travel to Mexico, Peru, or Ecuador for their dental services. They can often find the same procedure offered in those countries for as low as 10 percent of the cost in America. More commonly the savings range anywhere from 30 to 75 percent.
The idea of saving anywhere from 30 to 90 percent on an expensive dental treatment is obviously a very attractive concept. Something that would cost $6,000 in America may cost only $800 in Peru. That’s a saving of $5,200 that the patient may or may not have had.
There are typically two categories of patients who schedule dental holidays. Those who could not afford the cost of the procedure in their home country and those who want to put that money towards something else. For those who cannot afford a $6,000 procedure, finding the same procedure for $800 in a nearby country could be their only source of relief. Patients can have teeth replaced, root canals performed, and other procedures that reduce pain or allow normal function of their teeth.
As for the other category of patients, they may be able to receive the same dental care in their home country, but the trip is often worth it because they can save the money to put towards something else. In many cases, they put those savings into the vacation. That $5,200 can count towards airfare, lodging, eating out, and plenty of fun activities. It’s more than enough to have an unforgettable experience in a beautiful country.
If you are living in the USA and the idea of traveling abroad for dental care seems to be too far fetched, seeking treatment in canadian cities may offer some nice places to visit as well as significant savings due to the currency exchange rate which as of now is around 30%.
Steps To Follow To Make It Worth It
As mentioned, no patient should rush into a dental vacation. Traveling from the United States to Peru or Ecuador can be worth it, but only if you research, plan, and prepare. Those three steps will help reduce the risk that you would otherwise face traveling to an underdeveloped country.
First and foremost, you need to fully research the various dental offices in the area. You want to find professionals who are well educated, trained, certified, and have plenty of experience. Look for the same credentials as you would if you were researching a dentist in America. A couple of organizations to look to for guidance include the American Academy of Implant dentistry and the Academy of Osseointegration.
From there, fully calculate the cost of the trip. Keep in mind that a return visit may be required depending on the nature of the procedure. The main goal of dental tourism is to save money. If the costs exceed the cost of the procedure in America, then there isn’t really a point.
The third step is to contact the dentist you have chosen. In most cases, you can work together with the dentist to receive a diagnosis before actually traveling to the country. This prevents the possibility of a misdiagnosis or anything else that could prevent you from receiving dental care. The dentist will need to receive your X-rays and other documents from your U.S. Based dentist.
You are highly advised to bring a friend or family member along with you. Especially if you are receiving a surgery that will leave you disoriented afterward. Not only can they help you get back to your hotel, but two people together are always safer than one alone in a new country.
Finally, keep in mind that you may not want to swim with dolphins for a few days after receiving the care. It all depends on the nature and severity of the procedure. So plan a few days of aftercare where you focus on getting as much rest as possible. You are also not advised to hop on the plane back home immediately afterward either. That means you shouldn’t plan your procedure on the last day of your trip.
Stay Safe And Save Money
Dental tourism is a great way to save money and to experience new countries. There are some risks involved, but they can be greatly reduced by following common sense steps. Overall, the vacation is worth it for patients who live in America, Australia, and other high-income countries.