Dental tourism has become a major trend among people hoping to save some money on major dental procedures. It is true that in smaller, less expensive countries, dental work often costs a fraction of what it does in the United States. Still, traveling for a dental procedure is not as straightforward as it might appear at first glance. If you are considering this, here is what you should know.
Be careful not to get caught up in the price advertised on a foreign clinic’s website. Make sure you do your due diligence first. In some cases, the advertised price does not include all of the extras that are involved, from local anesthesia to extractions. Get a clear idea of what the final total for your procedure will be, as you might not save as much as you thought when everything is factored in.
Also consider the costs of travel. If you live next to the Mexican border, for example, your travel costs may be minimal. But if you have to fly somewhere, arrange lodging and meals for several days, and pay for transportation, those costs can be significant. Add up your anticipated travel expenses, plus the costs of extending your trip in the event that something goes wrong. Then add that total to the total for the procedure. Are you still getting the deal of a lifetime?
Finding a Good Dentist
Choosing the right dentist for you is never easy, and shopping for one who is another country can be a real challenge. As you might expect, some foreign dentists are excellent, while others are mediocre at best. Before making a commitment, research the dentist’s background, education, and experience, and make sure he or she is accredited. The Academy of Dentistry International, Patients Without Borders, and the World Dental Federation are good places to check.
Also look for reviews from patients who have traveled internationally to have work performed by that dentist. What was their experience? Did they find the office clean, safe, and up to modern standards? Were they happy with the work that was performed? Did it last as expected? What did their U.S. dentist have to say about the results?
Involving Your U.S. Dentist
If you decide to take the plunge, make sure your current dentist is involved every step of the way. Your U.S. dentist and the international dentist you select should work together to create a fully-formed treatment plan before you depart. Make sure your dentist sends copies of your X-rays and photos well in advance, and request extra copies to take with you as well.
If you are traveling out of the country for major dental work, you need to be doubly certain that you have a solid plan in place. Make sure that you know how many hotel nights you will need, and whether your entire procedure can be completed in one visit. Invest in a high-quality hotel room where you will be able to rest and heal, and don’t plan a sightseeing vacation. Think through your transportation options to and from the airport, and between your hotel and the dental office. You may be in pain, or on painkillers that make you sleepy, so make it as easy on yourself as possible.
Although dental work is generally considered very safe, things can go wrong. Find out if your health insurance will cover you while you are abroad. Look into trip insurance. Set aside an emergency fund in case you need to stay more nights than expected. Also be sure to take someone with you. Not only can that person play a support role, but he or she can take charge of things should any emergencies arise.
Is It Really Worthwhile?
As you can see, dental tourism is not as simple as it appears at first glance. While many people do successfully complete dental treatments abroad, there is a great deal of research and planning that must be done. If things go awry, you may have far less recourse than you would have in the United States. Also consider whether it would be worth the investment to go back if a filling falls out or a bridge fails. When you add up all of the costs and the travel considerations, you might find that it is not worth the trouble. If you do decide to go, be sure to coordinate with your U.S. dentist every step of the way.
At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.