The Top 5 Dental Tourism Destinations

Dentist's chair

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As we age, our flesh tends to outlive our teeth, often calling for extensive reconstructive or restorative procedures that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Thus, saving money is the main reason people seek care outside their home country. 

However, the traveling dental patient need not sacrifice quality to save money. Over the year, dental tourism has become an large, established business, with accredited clinics and certified dentists around the globe serving some three million patients who realize savings up to 85% over care in their home countries.

Dentistry also attracts what might be termed the "incidental traveler." Patients who vacation in a dental destination may make time for an affordable treatment (such as a check-up or a whitening). Business travelers whose work takes them overseas may arrange for dental care while there—saving on both oral treatment and travel costs

In the next few pages, we've compiled thumbnails of the leading dental travel destinations. Sites such as Patients Beyond Borders and Dental Departures can provide additional information and insight.

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Photo credit: Dental Departures

Mexico’s rich cultural heritage, enviable weather and a myriad diverse locations makes it a particularly popular location for Americans and Canadians in search of affordable dental care.  Mexico is now one of the world's top dental tourism destinations, where patients typically save between 60-80% on treatments ranging from annual check-ups to more complex restorative and cosmetic surgeries.

Because of recent social and political turmoil, traveling patients tend to prefer resort towns like Cancun, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta. Dental networks such as Dentalia or independent clinics such as Ocean Dental in Playa del Carmen number among hundreds of choices.  

For urbanites, Mexico City offers dozens of high-quality dental treatment centers.

Because dental travel is so popular in Mexico, patients should be doubly sure to check a clinic's history, accreditation, and patient reviews, along with dentists' credentials.

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Costa Rica

Photo credit: Dental Departures

With its legendary weather, beaches and natural beauty, Costa Rica has built a robust reputation as one of the world’s best-known dental tourism destinations. Popular for short-haul US and Canadian patients, Costa Rica appeals increasingly to patients from the EU, the Caribbean and neighboring Central and South American countries. 

Medical travelers can save 40-65% in San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital) or its upscale suburb, Escazu.  Advance Dental and Nova Dental are popular clinics there. Many Costa Rica clinics are accredited by AAAHC and AAASFI.

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Photo credit: Kreativ Clinic, Budapest

Hungary has more dentists per capita than any other country, and its healthcare regulation is beginning to match that of Western Europe. Budapest is Hungary's most popular dental destination, although the border towns such as Mosonmagyaróvár, Hévíz, Sopron and Gyor, cater to Austrians and Germans seeking relief from the high costs of care in their home countries.  

Note: Even the top clinics can vary in the amount of English spoken and the level of customer service provided. Travelers to Hungary should make an extra effort to attain the highest comfort level with their clinic and doctor beforehand.  Kreativ Dental in Budapest and Eurodent Aquadental (near the Austrian border) both cater to the English-speaking dental traveler.

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Photo credit: Dental Departures

Exotic destinations don’t come more compelling than Thailand, which continues to attract millions from around the globe. One of the pioneers of medical and dental tourism, Thailand is visited by Aussies, Kiwi's, Brits and Americans alike seeking savings of up to 80%. 

International patients and expats alike flock to the seven-story Bangkok International Dental Center, which treats more than 50,000 cross-border patients every year. One of the world's only dental facilities accredited by the Joint Commission International, BIDC also houses a 30-room onsite hotel, bank, restaurant and coffee shop.

Thailand's best hospitals, such as Bumrungrad International or Bangkok Hospital Phuket boast established, if somewhat pricier, dental departments.

For those seeking pleasure to offset the unpleasantness of drilling and scaling, Thailand is captivating, mysterious, and charismatic. Thailand's mix of ancient and modern, gaudy and mellow, chaos and calm offers an irresistible appeal for those seeking a rewarding holiday destination as well as proficient dental care.

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Photo captions: Dental Departures

Caribbean beaches, colonial history and laid-back fishing villages are just some of Colombia’s attractions, luring mainly Caribbean, Latin and North American tourists, but increasingly numbers from further afield. There’s a growing dental tourism industry as patients from first world economies discover the advantages of traveling to Colombia for their dental care. Savings average 50-70%.

The capital city, Bogotá, is modern, cosmopolitan, and is, after Amsterdam and Copenhagen, the world’s third most bike-friendly city. Dental patients can enjoy first-class treatment and expertise at facilities such as The Colombian Society of Stetic Dentistry, or take in the sights of the bougainvillea-filled, cobblestoned streets of Cartagena, one of the most picturesque colonial cities in South America.

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