You may already heard of dental tourism through friends, on social media, or TV. In recent years, this trend has only been growing in popularity. Many news outlets report that almost a half million Americans seek dental care outside U.S. every year.
If however you are new to the idea, you might be asking yourself, what is dental tourism? So we will start there…
What is Dental Tourism?
Dental tourism, like medical tourism, is when you travel, often to another country, in seek of alternative services. The reasons for dental tourism can be many, but the ultimate goal is to explore your options and not limit your yourself to only those dental providers who are in your immediate vicinity. Oftentimes, this can lead people to travel the world in search of a dentist or oral surgeon who meets their exact needs, be it price, quality, expertise, or any number of criteria.
Now that you know what it is, you might still be asking yourself, “who cares?!”
Why is Dental Tourism Becoming so Popular?
It has become painfully obvious that it is not only the thought of the dental drill that makes the average American cringe, but also the near-abusive costs of dental care. They are enough to make any wallet cry uncle. In fact, a 2012 report by none other than Senator Bernie Sanders estimating the number of Americans without dental insurance is close to 130 million. To put that into perspective, that is roughly 40% of the U.S. population.
With average savings estimated at a whopping 70% experienced by citizens while being abroad, it’s easy to imagine why this business is now a more common practice than ever before.
These savings are in fact so radical that you’d pay less for a plane ticket, procedure, and even a few days vacation in nearly all of 8 countries we’ve identified for dental tourism, than what it would cost you for the same moderate level of dental care back in the States.
There are many reasons why prices for medical are so low overseas; lower labor costs, lower fixed costs, lower education fees, and rising technology standards at ever lowering expenses. Even at these prices, easier access to technology, and education on par with international standards, make dental tourism really attractive for the average American.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
Potential draw-backs are minimal, and the only major concern would be a malpractice (which can happen anywhere, really), which in that case a legal recourse would be unlikely, and even when pursued, it wouldn’t be worth the time. Remember also that legal matters are much slower and impractical in other parts of the world.
The main debate about dental tourism (or medical tourism, in general) has to do with the relation price – quality. The truth is, dentistry quality standards in major clinics and hospitals overseas is on par with any other facilities in the States. Also, in this day and age, you can easily find possible destinations, internationally recognized clinics, and doctors along with their records on the internet, so you have nothing to worry about.
Where are the Best Places for You to be a Dental Tourist?
So if you are thinking about joining the wave of dental tourists, but you are not sure where to go, here’s a top 10 list of the best countries for dental tourism the world has to offer to help you weigh the options and get you on your way.
Lets just start with the cheapest, best price-to-quality country for dental tourism in the world. With the second largest population on the planet, you know you are going to have plenty of options. Dentists here are well regarded and many were educated right in the U.S.. This is a huge draw, as they know how to attend to American clients perfectly. You really have the best of both worlds, U.S. procedures at Indian prices.
India is steadily cementing itself as a top country for dental tourism,. In fact, India had a 30% projected growth for 2015 regarding foreigners seeking out services. They now cater exactly for the needs of expats, and many facilities arrange even your travels and tours while they setup your appointments.
And what a place for tourism India is. You can visit the Taj Mahal, Delhi, the Harmandir Sahib, meet and spend a day with domestic elephants…there are so many sightings and landmarks to visit, you’ll never run dry. And everything at the best prices you could ever get.
Romania is the best kept secret for dental tourism in Europe, they have been doing it since the 70’s, but they are gaining notoriety somewhat recently.
Romania is in fact the perfect country for no non-sense, dental tourism in Europe. Romania won’t have too much to offer vacation wise apart from Bucharest and the notorious Transylvania, but if you are down for some cheap, first-rate dental treatment, this is the place to go.
Hungary is Europe’s finest choice for dental tourism. In fact, it is the most popular European country for dental tourism. And with prices less than half than back at home, who would want to miss the opportunity to discover the Old World without the price tag?
Hungary is filled with famous dentists, state of the art accommodations and highly competent staff. The website Patientsbeyondborders states Hungary boasts more dentists per capita than any other country in the world, so you have choices to boot and most likely get up to 70% of discount when compared to prices in the U.S.
While you are there, you can stroll through Budapest, the Hungary’s flag city. Boasting a broad selection of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, You can enjoy a cup of coffee right beside the Danube river, visit the Buda Castle Quarter, ride the Millenium Underground Railway (the second oldest in the world) and its vast array of geothermal springs. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Thanks to the Spanish property bubble that violently popped in 2008, the recovering Spanish economy now boasts devalued products and services from the financial crisis that ensued, appealing to a great deal of expats worldwide.
Spain as of 2016 has recovered well from this economic catastrophe, but it’s still one of the cheapest places in Europe to get one of the best dental services in the world. In fact, medical spending per capita of Spain is one of the lowest of the European Union.
Aside from A+ Dental care, Spain is the local get-away destination for many people from the European Union. World-class beach cities like La Barceloneta in Barcelona, La Malagueta in Málaga, And Costa del Sol are all excellent top-class options to go for sunny vacations.
Also, the main cities like Madrid and Barcelona are a treat. The epitomes of walking heavens. These two cities are so well developed, you will prefer traveling on foot over car anytime; enjoying every bit and piece of the architectural master pieces these cities are.
In Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia church, a landmark of the city, is one of its main attractions. Designed by architect legend Antoni Gaudi, it’s one of the most impressive, massive pieces of architectural art in the world. It is simply a must go. From there, the Casa Milá, La Rambla, and The Camp Nou Stadium for the soccer fans, are just samples of the endless options you have to enjoy the best of the Old World.
The Philippines is another top Asian destination that is on vogue, thanks to an ever growing economy, in spite of the numerous economic and political disasters that have troubled the country in the past.
The Global Clinic Rating (GCR) rated the Philippines as the 8th top medical tourism destinations in the world, even ahead of countries like France and Japan, as the list of the International Healthcare Research Center and the Medical Tourism Association (MTA) stated. A total of three major dental clinics have been stated as meeting world-class medical clinic standards. You can be more than confident of lending your teeth to the hands of any of these doctors.
Great dental care is not all that the Philippines can offer you. Have you heard of Pantayan beach, or El Nido? El Nido is one of the most beautiful natural marvels in earth, and one of Hollywood’s preferred selections for exotic scenarios. If you have the chance to come to the Philippines, you definitely have to check out its almost endless, picture-perfect (and super cheap!) options for beaches.
Really affordable prices can be found for tickets to cities like Manila, Cebu, and Dumaguete, and the hospitality of the Philippine people is renowned word wide. This makes the Philippines truly one of the best countries for dental tourism you could choose.
An old-time favorite for expats, Panama is the undisputed king of Central America for dental tourism.
And you can easily see why. It has clinics and hospitals with first-world infrastructure, like Hospital Punta Pacifica, which is the only hospital in Central America affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine International.
The official currency is the dollar, so you don’t have to worry about messy exchanges. The city is an adventure to discover, thanks to many spots like El Cangrejo and Casco Viejo for high-end shopping, dining, cultural activities and even partying. You can live the high life here.
And also, there’s the added bonus of breath taking beach towns like Pedasi, Bocas Del Toro, and San Blas. You can’t miss with Panama.
You might think the plane ticket to this destination might outweigh it as a viable option, but truth is, if you happen to find a good deal, you can have one of the best dental services in the world, for one of the best prices in the world, and some enviable, low-cost vacations in one of the world’s most exotic destinations.
Thailand has become such a trend for dental tourism that now it specifically caters to international clients. Bangkok and Phuket have countless dentistry clinics scattered all over, and the Bangkok International Dental Center (BIDC) is one great example of a fully-fledged, top notch dental facility. You can be sure you are in the best hands. Many other First-world countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada figure as top clients for this country. And did we mention the prices? The only downside would be the jet-lag.
Easy, right? Naturally, Mexico is the #1 country for dental tourism within the United States. Patients for general procedures including dentistry vary between 200,000 and 1 million annually. Most of Mexico’s U.S. patients are regional – this means the most come from places like Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and Southern California; but folks from other states still hop on a plane and hit towns like Tijuana, Puerto Vallarta, and San Miguel Allende because it’s still the most accessible destination.
As you can imagine, these kinds of services are still pretty much negligible in price when compared with the ones back in the U.S., but as it’s the most popular destination, Mexicans have come to realize they can turn prices up a notch and still get away with it. We would recommend sticking to family owned, reputable clinics for better prices and overall same quality.
Also, a great part of the hospitals and minor clinics in Mexico have affiliation with major educational institutions and have garnered international recognitions. So you can be reassured you are getting pretty much the same international standards at much lower prices.
And there you have it, the world’s 8 best countries for dental tourism.