Not quite. Dental tourism, or crossing oceans to save money on dental care, has been on the rise since 2011. Patients Beyond Borders, a medical publication, states that Americans who are willing to travel can save up to 70% on dental procedures such as root canals and crowns. But is it worth it to abandon your neighborhood dentists for a trip around the globe?
Do People Really Do This?
The CEO of Patients without Borders estimated that “in 2012, 400,000 Americans crossed international borders for dental care.” Not only that, but he expected that number to rise by 20% in following years. In 2012, Senator Bernie Sanders released “Dental Crisis in America”. This report called attention to the 130 million Americans living without dental insurance. For these people, enormous out-of-pocket dental costs can justify a long journey for less expensive dental care.
Popular Dental Destinations
Kirk Olsen traveled to Mexico for his dental implants. His story tracks the reasons that led him to take a dental vacation and offers advice for peers considering a trip of their own. His first piece of advice is to choose a destination as close to home as possible. Depending on your procedure, you may need to schedule multiple visits. Closer physical proximity will help keep your travel costs low.
For people living in Texas, Arizona, and California, dental care in Mexico is only a few hours away. These short trips can save thousands of dollars for people willing to give up the comfort of their hometown dental office. Similarly, Costa Rica is a popular dental destination for East Coast Americans and Floridians.
Europeans find discounts in the dental chairs of Hungarian dentists. Hungary offers more dentists per capita than any other country. Travelers are spoiled by high-quality, low-cost care. While it may seem absurd, Americans traveling to Hungary for extensive care such as implants and full-mouth restorations may end up paying less for their treatment, even when considering the cost of travel and accommodations. Lots of research will help determine the cost-effectiveness of different locations and procedures.
Dental Tourism + Travel Considerations
Before you book your flight to Thailand, take some time to research your options. “To find the best dentist for you, begin your search online. For most destinations, a quick Google search will bring up a number of dentistry sites and dental tourism search engines. Websites such as provide client reviews of dentists.” You want to make sure you choose a reputable, certified professional. Brandon Green trusted recommendations from Colombian locals when choosing an overseas dentist. “Someone recommended a dentist who charged me around 30 percent less than the already low rates advertised on dental tourism sites. I have received excellent care using this method, but keep in mind: dentists who cater to locals may not be members of U.S. health organizations, or have reviews on the Internet that will help you make a more informed decision.”
Don’t assume that all dental professionals will offer similar levels of care or operate with familiar tools, methods, and materials. Each dentist varies, so make sure to speak the a dentist before you jump into their chair. Compliance across standards varies drastically. Ask for as many details as you can, and know what you should expect from your procedure.
“One drawback of dental travel is that should you require additional care, your dentist may be on the other side of the planet.” This causes emergency care to fall on the shoulders of the state-side dentist that you traded in for the less expensive alternative. Your local dentist may be unfamiliar with the materials and procedures that were used abroad. But if your heart is set on a dental vacation, make sure that you document everything. “It’s important when getting an implant to ask the dentist what they are using. The brand, size, and other specifications.” It is harder to fix something the second time around, so you should be selective in the care you outsource.
If you are looking at the calendar and booking plane tickets for a dental vacation, stop and take the time to talk through your options with your local dentist. Make sure that the care you will receive abroad will be adequate and meet American standards. You don’t want to return home with a bigger problem than you left with. For some, like Brandon Green and Kirk Olsen, dental tourism turned out well. Others are less pleased with their outcomes. At Greenspoint, dental we maintain the highest standards of care, and work to exceed your expectations. Let us know if you have any questions concerning an upcoming procedure.