If you’ve been putting off a vacation and socking away money for dental care instead, there may be a way for you to carry out both goals: dental travel. A branch of medical tourism, dental travel or tourism is enjoying a solid upward trajectory worldwide.
Dental travel is not for everyone. And we can assure you it’s not something we’ll be exploring in person. Nevertheless, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has estimated that between the years 2012 and 2017, participation by U.S. patients traveling to other countries for medical care will grow from a low of around 8 million to anywhere from 11 to 23 million.
Why travel for dental care?
Just as some businesses outsource work to areas where labor is more affordable, dental tourists take advantage of global competitiveness to achieve cost savings by traveling to less developed areas to have dental procedures performed. If you’re a US-based dentist or hygienist, you probably think the whole idea sucks – sucks even more than the suction tube you use to keep patients’ mouths dry while you work.
…dental tourists take advantage of global competitiveness to achieve cost savings by traveling to less developed areas…
For consumers, on the other hand, there are alluring reasons to explore further. For example, in the U.S., consumers may pay in the neighborhood of $3000 to $5000 for implants and a crown. In Mexico or El Salvador – which are just 2 of the nearly 50 countries that list medical tourism as a part of their national economies – the same procedures may cost consumers closer to $1000.
Not all fun in the sun…
Many people have had positive experiences with dental tourism, as the rampant growth of the industry attests. As you can probably imagine, though, it definitely pays to do your homework if you’re thinking of jumping on the dental tourism wagon.
If you’ve done much traveling, then you know: things sometimes go awry. When you’re traveling simply for enjoyment, it’s easy to take little glitches or misunderstandings in stride. They’re just part of the territory. But where health care procedures are concerned, glitches and misunderstandings are never a good thing.
Probably the biggest red-flag and best reason for avoiding dental travel, period, is the fact that different countries have different educational and licensing requirements for dentists and varying standards where hygiene is concerned. Not to mention unfamiliar laws and regulations.
Add to that the possible confusion of dealing with a second language or foreign cultural customs, and you can see that it takes a certain kind of person to really make a go of it as a dental tourist.
The cruise director is ready to see you now…
In addition to doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals, many travel agencies and online sites cater to this growing trend. Search for “dental travel,” and literally millions of links come up. You may need to take a little time off just to research all the available options adequately.
Take the time to research providers carefully. Read up on all aspects of dental travel in online reviews and recommendations. Find out all you can about the pros and cons of various destinations for this type of travel. Talk to others who have tried combining travel with medical or dental care.
…understand exactly what you may be getting into, and what recourse you may have if things don’t go as planned.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – be sure you take the time to understand exactly what you may be getting into, and what recourse you may have if things don’t go as planned. After all, it’s hardly a “vacation in the sun” – so to speak – when a dental restoration or other procedure fails as soon as – or even before – you complete the return trip home.
Been there, done that? Have you had a positive – or not so positive – experience with dental travel? We’d love to hear your comments on this growing trend in health care.
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