If the high cost of dental treatment leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you’re not alone! Millions of people who cannot afford the outlay at home search every year for alternatives that provide high-quality care that don't break the household bank.
The Vicious Cycle of Dental Care
Unfortunately, by the time some patients have decided to have their dental treatment abroad, it has become an imminent necessity. Many delay going to their dentist at home—usually due to the cost—which sadly only leads to further deterioration of teeth and gums, which then costs even more to correct!
Dental tourism can be a lifeline for patients who find themselves caught in this vicious cycle. The steady growth in patients seeking cross-border alternative for their care tends to confirms this trend.
In the US it is estimated that around 40% of people do not have dental health insurance. In the UK, only around 50% of NHS dentists are taking on new patients (in some areas as low as 20%!). This sad circumstance leads many to delay dental treatment rather than pay the high costs for private dental care. Postponing dental treatment due to financial reasons, then drifting into poor health as a result, is now an all-too-familiar predicament.
Average Savings: 50-80%
Fortunately, frequent flights, low cost airlines and easy access to information across the world via the internet has opened up a global marketplace where patients can access quality services at prices they can afford.
Generally the higher the cost of your treatment at home, the more you will save when you go abroad. Percentage-wise, most dental treatments are between 50 and 70% less expensive at popular dental tourism destinations abroad.
For more complex cases of restorative and cosmetic dentistry patients can save as much as 85%. For example, dental implants and crowns—the most popular treatments after fillings—cost several hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars to treat. Thus, it is not hard to see why a procedure requiring anything more than a filling is worth looking into dental tourism as an option.
The cost of dental fillings are 50-85% lower in some destinations abroad – something to consider if you need an emergency filling while on holiday, or you live in a large population center near an international border, such as Arizona, Texas and California on the US-Mexico border.
For costlier treatments the discounts can also be substantial, with savings of over 70% on a root canal in Mexico, Thailand, India and European countries, and 80% savings on dentures—more than enough to cover the cost of a holiday too.
However, it is on major dental work that the savings really begin to add up. In industrialized nations such as the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Japan, it is not uncommon to see quotes of up to $60,000 for a mouthful of new teeth. Restorative and cosmetic dentistry is generally excluded from health plans, forcing savvy patients to shop for cross-border options.
More Ways to Save
With good advance planning, you can get even more for your money traveling abroad for care. Booking travel out of season often reaps good deals on flights and accommodation. In addition, dentists and medical travel facilitators are more prone to offer deals and discounts—or to negotiate prices—in the off season.
If you have dental insurance, your carrier may allow ‘out-of-network’ expenses. Although it is unlikely your dentist abroad will be able to file a claim directly with your insurance company, you may be able to file a claim on your return home. Be sure to check with your insurance provider.
In the United States you may also be eligible to claim tax deductions for medical expenses, (or in Australia tax offsets) to further reduce your bill.
Remember: Safety First, Savings Follow!
As with any medical care you seek, always vet your dentist and clinic carefully. Check that your dentist is suitably qualified and a good match for the procedure you require. Start with your dentist’s credentials: education, board certifications, and affiliations. Similarly, check the clinic for accreditation and affiliations with known associations or institutes. Online appraisals and reviews from past patients are also useful, as are clinic’s “before-and-after” photographs. Consider using a specialized dental tourism company that conducts background-checks on dentists and facilities so you may rest easy your dentist is reliable.
Advance planning and diligent vetting will help ensure you save a considerable amount of money and enjoy a safe trip and a happy outcome in the hands of trustworthy dentists.