Dental Tourism: A Tranquil Solution to Expensive Dental Care?
Imagine recovering from dental surgery while relaxing on a sparkling beach along the Mediterranean. Now, imagine the surgery was so affordable that you still have room in your budget for sightseeing and an extended vacation.
This is the exciting reality that attracts so many people to dental tourism. Unfortunately with the COVID pandemic, many countries’ borders are still closed due to the increased positive cases within the US.
What Is Dental Tourism?
Dental tourism is the practice of seeking dental care outside of one’s home country in order to save money. It often involves traveling to less industrialized countries where procedures are more affordable due to lower labor costs, lower education expenses, reduced government intervention, and lower insurance costs. Dental tourism is typically, but not always, accompanied by a vacation.
What Drives Dental Tourism?
In highly industrialized, high-income nations, dental care is often out of reach even for middle-class people. Major procedures such as dental implants and veneers can be quite expensive in places like the USA. In fact, the USA is the one of the most expensive places to receive dental implants, second only to Singapore.
It’s a double-edged sword: While American dentists are among the best-trained in the world, they pay a great deal for that high-quality education, which drives up costs for patients. You’re also paying for higher labor costs and better insurance.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Tourism?
It’s clear to see why dental tourism would appeal to so many: It enables you to get dental care on the cheap while also enjoying an overseas vacation. This idea seems too good to resist—particularly for patients who want an expensive elective procedure done, like porcelain veneers. You may even know someone who’s traveled abroad and come back with a beautiful smile, and a perfect tan to boot.
What Are the Risks of Dental Tourism?
While dental tourism may sound tempting, it’s not without its perils. The CDC has warned that in many overseas localities, standards for facilities and training are lower than in the USA. In addition, language barriers may cause miscommunication that results in mistreatment. Lastly, flying soon after any surgery increases the risk of blood clots, which can be deadly.
These risks shouldn’t steer you away from dental tourism entirely. As long as you take the necessary precautions, dental tourism can be an enjoyable and affordable option for dental care. Every patient considering dental tourism should take safety measures such as:
- Researching prospective dentists: look into their education, experience, and accreditations. Check with reputable organizations like the Academy of Dentistry International, Patients Beyond Borders, and the World Dental Federation.
- Purchasing insurance: ask your health insurance provider if it covers care received abroad, which offers protection in the case of canceled trips, malpractice, or complications.
- Connecting your regular dentist with your dentist abroad: the dentist you are travelling to see should have a treatment plan, X-rays, and medical records from the dentist you normally see at home.
- Bringing a companion: ask a family member or friend to accompany you in case something goes wrong, especially in procedures that require anesthesia.
- Planning for post-op care: any reputable dentist will advise against following a major procedure with sightseeing or a long plane ride home. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your vacation; it just means you should take recovery time into consideration when forming your travel plans. Also, don’t forget to schedule follow-up care when necessary.
For many patients, the benefits of dental tourism outweigh the potential risks. Dental tourism is relatively safe as long as you take the right precautions before your trip. The most important thing to remember is that you should never sacrifice safety for cheap costs. Instead, try to find a balance between affordability and quality of care.