Dental Tourism: Pros, Cons & What To Expect

Creative Commons

It’s fun to see new places. It’s also fun to not spend the amount of a down payment on a house to get necessary dental work.

Dental Tourism – What Is It?

Dental tourism is a way to save money on dental services while also seeing the world. The idea is to travel to a foreign country where dental costs are cheaper than the United States and having a “dental vacation.”

Generally speaking, a person can save up to 70% by getting dental work in another country, and that includes travel, lodging, and the actual treatment.

The main drive behind dental tourism is to find the most affordable yet quality dental care, although the location is a big aspect too. Part of it is the “tourism” or “vacation” factor, so people want to enjoy their stay. They’ll simply extend their stay by a few days and enjoy wherever they’ve gone.

Often, people will go to bordering countries. So for folks from the U.S., they typically travel to Canada or Mexico, just because it’s easier and the travel expenses are lower.

The most common treatments people get with dental tourism are:

  • Dental crown: these are tooth caps that cover your tooth after getting a root canal or filling. They help give you back a tooth, both in functionality and aesthetic.
  • Dental bridge: these hold fake teeth in place by forming a bridge across the gap left by the missing tooth, using the natural teeth on either side as support.
  • Root canal: this is when a dentist will remove the infected pulp within a tooth and clean, fill, and seal the space. Then you’ll usually get a crown on top of that. This keeps you from getting that tooth pulled and a fake tooth placed.
  • Dental veneer: these are a thin material that attaches to the front of your tooth as an aesthetic fix.
Dental tourism is traveling to a foreign country to get more affordable dental care while also spending some time vacationing in that country.

Best Country For Dental Tourism

Once you’ve decided on dental tourism, it can be difficult to decide on a country. How can you figure out the best country for this?

Fortunately, we have a list of the five best countries for dental tourism based on affordability, quality of care, and proximity to the U.S.

Mexico

A lot of people like Mexico as a dental tourism location because it’s touching the U.S. meaning it’s generally cheaper to fly there (or drive there if you’re in a bordering state). You can save about 40% to 60%.

Plus, there are plenty of U.S.-trained dentists, so it’s almost like you’re getting the same kind of care for cheaper. However, there are a lot of great dentists that didn’t study in the U.S. that can provide the same (or better) care than those who did.

Thailand

Thailand, obviously, is a bit further away than Mexico, but it’s a solid option because there are a good number of very qualified dentists. And it’s such a famous country for dental tourism that the dental professionals are used to providing care for foreigners. So your experience may even be tailored to a tourist.

Hungary

Hungary is known as a great spot for vacationing — it’s affordable and has beautiful scenery. They have many very good dentists, so it’s a top choice for a vacation-medical trip.

Romania

If you’re looking for a place even cheaper than Hungary, Romania is your place. It’s actually the cheapest option in the West in regard to dental tourism. But the quality isn’t cheap — it’s good enough quality that tons of people have gone there for dental procedures.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the best country for dental tourism, allowing you to save up to 65%. In this country, they have top-tier dental professionals, the latest technology, and their practices meet international standards. And the overall savings are hard to beat for the quality care you’ll get.

Out of these top five countries for dental tourism, Costa Rica is the most preferred and the best overall when considering price, travel distance, and quality care.

Dental Vacation Packages

Because of the rise of dental tourism, dentists in foreign countries have started offering package deals. So this could be a package including the dental care (like X-rays, exams, lab work, and the actual procedure), the lodging, the travel fare, and more.

One example is a total smile makeover. This could include a number of treatments — like teeth whitening, fillings, veneers, and crowns — into one package with one price tag that can help you spend less than you would if you paid for each treatment separately.

You may be able to save more money by going with a dental package offered by the dentist you’ve chosen. Although you should make sure the package doesn’t include anything you don’t need.

Pros & Cons Of Dental Tourism

Dental tourism isn’t something you should dive into without doing your research, and that’s why it’s good that you’re reading this guide.

Here are some of the pros and cons of dental tourism:

Pros

  • Lower cost for the same dental care you’d find in the U.S.
  • You get to see another part of the world
  • You can have a beautiful international vacation

Cons

  • Dental standards are different than in the U.S.
  • Continuity of care (the foreign dentist may not be able to get your dental history)
Some of the great things about dental tourism are that you can save money by combining vacation and getting necessary dental care.

How To Plan Your Dental Vacations

So once you’ve got a country in mind for your dental vacation, you’ve got to get started with the plan. Here are some tips on how to plan your trip.

Stay Close To Home

Before you settle on a for-sure place to go, consider staying close to home. The reason is that some procedures can require multiple visits, so the shorter distance to travel, the cheaper and easier the whole process will be.

That’s why Mexico is such a popular dental tourist location for those in the U.S. It’s close, it’s affordable, and you can find some sweet vacation spots.

Do Your Research

After you decide on your preferred country, finding a reliable dentist in that is the next step.

You should do as much research on any dentist you’re interested in visiting. Look them up on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and any other review site you can find them on. You can even call their office and ask to speak with them — sort of like a phone consultation.

Don’t Buy Anything You Don’t Need

Often, dental clinics that get a lot of American patients will have you meet or talk with a secondary dentist from that country whose English is very good. This dentist may try to upsell you, meaning they’ll try to get you to buy more services and treatments than you were actually looking for. More than you actually need.

That’s why it’s important to know exactly what you want or need going into this process. Then you can stick to just those treatments and services.

Dental Tourism Companies

This is all a lot. Figuring our what country to choose, finding a dentist, booking your flight tickets and your hotel room. It can sound pretty overwhelming.

That’s exactly the reason Dental Departures exists. They’re a one-stop shop for all of this stuff. They can help you find a quality dentist in your preferred country, book flights and a hotel for you, and they can even offer financial help.

Save yourself the hassle (and even more money) and check them out.

When planning your dental tourist trip, try to stay close to your home, research the dentist you’re visiting, and don’t get upsold for services or treatments you don’t need.

Summary

  • Dental tourism is when someone travels to a foreign country to get more affordable dental care while also vacationing in that country
  • Costa Rica is the best overall place for dental tourism when considering price, travel distance, and quality of care
  • Consider taking a dental package offered by the dentist you’ve chosen, but make sure the package doesn’t include anything you don’t need or want
  • With dental tourism, you can save money by combining vacation and necessary dental treatment
  • When planning your trip, try to stay close to your home, research the dentist you’re visiting, and don’t get upsold for services or treatments you don’t need