Have you ever considered dental treatment abroad?
Nationals seeking medical care abroad usually have one thought in mind – saving money. Dental tourism prices offer savings as high as 70%, so it’s not surprising “Dental Vacations” are gaining popularity.
The rising cost of dental care in the US, UK, Europe and Australia, combined with increasingly expensive health insurance and long waiting periods for appointments, has meant more people are choosing dental tourism over having their teeth fixed at home.
Where is the Best Place for Dental Tourism
North Americans are heading to places like Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua in search of affordable dental care. Australians are taking advantage of cheap airfares and package deals to Asia. While Brits and Europeans have long been taking advantage of the high quality, low-cost dentistry available in Hungary.
Not surprising, Hungary has more dentists per capita than any other country in the world. One small town near the Austrian border – Mosonmagyarovar, the most popular destination for dental tourism in Europe, boasts over 160 dental clinics. You can’t argue with over 160,000 Austrian’s who cross the border each year for treatment. [toc]
Dental Tourism In Montenegro
As full time travellers, we are often asked what we do about medical care. The truth is – we make sure we have travel insurance and hope nothing too bad happens in a country where quality treatment isn’t available. So far that hasn’t happened (touch wood). Although, Mark had a tooth pulled by an old Greek dentist who only put his cigarette down when he needed two hands to pull the tooth. Not the worst thing that could happen.
When we arrived for our month long stay in Montenegro, our Airbnb host happened to mention the country was becoming a hot spot for dental tourism. Cha-Ching – The seed was planted. We had a full month, and it had been way too long between dental visits. Both of us had something which needed a dentist’s attention and perhaps this was an opportunity to get some non-critical work done.
We did some research on local dentists then, just turned up at a clinic to make enquiries. We were impressed. The clinic was modern, very clean and professional. It was quite fancy. After a brief discussion with the dentist about what we might want to have done, we had appointments confirmed for two days later.
Over the next two weeks, we had the following work done. Some took longer than it should have due to one of us having a completely irrational fear of the dentist (Spoiler Alert – it’s not Mark!). There was a total of 3 visits for Kate and 5 for Mark.
For us, this equates to a little over $1650 AUD.
If we had the same work done in Australia –
- Mark’s bridgework alone would cost anywhere from $6,000 – $10,000 AUD (€4,000 – €7,000) depending on the amount of work and the clinic.
- The extraction would have cost a minimum of $280 AUD (€190)
- We would never have had all the work completed in such a short period.
So you can already see the benefits of dental tourism. Had we flown all the way from Australia and spent a few weeks enjoying Montenegro while getting this treatment done, we would still be financially better off than if we’d stayed home and gone to an Australian dentist.
The Quality of Treatment
The dentist was very clear with us throughout about the procedures we required and how he would go about them. He was always available to discuss the procedures or any concerns and provided fantastic aftercare service. We were given suitable pain management after any extensive sessions and a prescription for a mild sedative to help with the not so small dental anxiety issue. He was always available to see us, and after we had left Montenegro, he said to email anytime with any questions or concerns.
While we have no first-hand experience with dental tourism in other countries, we were very impressed with the quality of care and standard of dental treatment in Montenegro. Due to a high level of training and licensing requirements, Montenegro has some of the most experienced dentists in the world. This means only specialist dental surgeons are completing more complex treatments.
Is Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad Safe?
One of the biggest concerns when looking to go abroad for medical or dental treatment is the level of care you will receive. We have all heard the horror stories of boob jobs gone wrong in Thailand and bad dental implants from Eastern Europe costing twice as much to have fixed back in the UK.
This was a greater concern when the concept of dental tourism first took off. Have things changed because the practitioners have improved in their training? Perhaps, but we don’t believe this is entirely the case.
The practitioners have always been trained to the same or similar high standards as anywhere. Just ask the 160,000 foreigners a year who have visited Hungary for decades for dental treatment. It is more likely the industry of Dental Tourism has progressed.
Whereas once you may have found it difficult to find a reputable practitioner in a foreign country and the industry lacked some of the finesse, we are used to, dental tourism has progressed. The industry is not only very organised with excellent marketing, but it also understands the international market and caters to clients who expect a high standard. This makes it easier to research the right clinic for your needs and to check the standard on offer. That being said, research is still critical when seeking any treatment abroad and in making the hard decision as to which is the best country for your dental tourism experience. If the treatment is too cheap compared to local standards, then maybe you should steer clear.
All Inclusive Packages.
Clinics catering to the dental tourism market are offering not just dental treatment but an entire package. Free consultations, airfares, transfers, and high-class hotels. Some even offer a dedicated guide who will collect you for your appointments and help you arrange your leisure time in between appointments. Personal itineraries are created based on your treatment schedule to allow you to also make the most of the destination and provide optimum recuperation time. After all, this is a dental “vacation” not just a visit to the dentist. If you had to have extensive dental work done, would you rather be enjoying somewhere like here as well?
What to Consider When Planning a Dental Vacation
Once you have completed your research and are happy with your choice of clinic, you should consider some of the following points.
The cost is the main reason you are heading abroad for dental treatment but have you factored all costs. Have you sourced an all-inclusive package deal of dental treatment, flights & accommodation or will these be in addition to the estimated treatment costs?
While you may have requested an estimate for veneers, you still have to factor any other issues found on the day. Will you need any fillings, or worse, a root canal and a crown? Obviously, this is not an ideal scenario but possible. Would a check up with your local dentist be advisable for a full diagnosis before booking a plane ticket?
If you need extra treatments, this may mean extending your accommodation and flight changes. Again, this must be factored into your budget.
Some complex treatments, such as implants may mean multiple trips over a period of months. Does your budget allow for this?
So, based on the above, have you factored enough time on your dental vacation to allow for any other work. Many clinics offering dental tourism will have information about time frames for various treatments but always ask the question regarding your specific treatment. Should you allow recovery time for major work such as wisdom tooth extraction. Will the treatment you are having require any follow-up appointments? These questions should be put to your dentist prior to making your travel plans.
Take a Friend
If possible, it would be wise to have a friend or family member travel with you, especially for any extensive work. Other than being able to care for you after any dental surgery requiring general anaesthesia or heavy pain medication, it would be helpful to have someone there should anything go wrong with your procedure.
You should always have travel insurance every time you travel regardless of the reason. In the case of a dental vacation, travel insurance could be vital in recouping any charges incurred due to changed travel plans or unexpected medical issues. If you have existing medical insurance, it might also be worthwhile to check if it covers any care you receive abroad.
Before You Go – Recommended Travel Gear