Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or a novice traveller, the chances are you’ll have heard the term dental tourism. Like medical tourism, where people combine surgery (typically, but not always, cosmetic) with a holiday abroad, the appeal is primarily in the cost savings, but with so many destinations throughout the world where you can have treatment, it’s clear that the location is an attractive proposition too.
There is an increasing number of people needing major dental work who just can’t afford the prices at home. This is where the dental holiday really comes into its own. It may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but if the choice is getting the treatment you need, at a price you can afford – and even with the cost of the holiday you still make substantial savings – then it’s a no-brainer.
Where medical and dental tourists differ is that everyday dental care can also be incorporated easily into any holiday. Need a new crown? Why not save yourself hundreds and have it done on holiday? It’s the same with fillings, teeth cleanings, veneers and even laser teeth whitening. For just a few hours out of your holiday you can maintain your dental health, and/or improve your smile while saving money.
Whether you’re on a short trip or a long vacation, here’s some of the best places for dental tourism:
Los Algodones, Mexico
This dusty town on the US-Mexico border in the northernmost town in Latin America. It is just a few miles from Yuma, Arizona and its proximity to California and Arizona has made it a popular tourist destination for day-trippers and snowbirds, drawn by inexpensive shopping, restaurants and prescription medicines.
Algodones is also the self-styled dental capital of the world with more than 300 dentists working in just a few blocks. The average price of a dental crown here is around $200 all-in, compared to over $1,000 in the US, so it’s well worth spending the time here.
When considering dental work anywhere, always do your own research. If you don’t speak the local language, find a dentist who speaks English. Check out qualifications – you will find there are plenty here who are American Dental Association (ADA) members. You’ll find lots of information online to help you narrow down your options. Once you’ve crossed over the Border, it is wise to politely decline street-hawkers. If you haven’t already made a dental appointment, ask your fellow tourists. This is a boom town for retirees and you’re likely to get some great recommendations. After you’ve had your quality dental care, allow yourself a large tequila or margarita in one of the cantinas while people watching as the sun goes down, before heading off home.
Europeans have been traveling to Hungary for dental and medical care for centuries, and in the 21st century it offers excellent quality at prices some 50-70% lower than its European neighbours.
Located in the center of Europe it’s easily accessible. Budapest is the nation’s capital and is considered to be one of the prettiest cities in Europe. Located on a curve on the banks of the River Danube, overlooked by the Buda Castle, it is certainly eye-catching. The mix of historic architectural styles make the city a joy to walk around, but this city’s unique attraction is its thermal springs. Boasting the world’s largest thermal caves, there really isn’t anything like unwinding in these open-air hot, bubbling waters. With nightlife and amenities to rival any of its more expensive European counterparts, like Paris, it’s not hard to see why Budapest is such a popular city destination for regular and dental tourists alike.
A feast for the senses – Bangkok’s joie de vivre is infectious. It is both fast paced and modern with gleaming skyscrapers and upmarket shopping malls, but is also sedate and traditional with serene temples and floating markets.
Bangkok has a renowned reputation for the excellent standards of its facilities and has much to offer dental tourists in terms of attractions pre and post treatment. A white filling costs less than 15 US dollars or 10 UK pounds (around 80% less than at home) in high-quality clinics that have been welcoming medical tourists since the 1990s.
If someone were to ask you what a typical dental holiday destination would be, then Cancun would probably be it. Glorious white beaches fringed by gently lapping turquoise waters – it is one of the world’s favorite tourist spots. With all the amenities, activities and services any modern holidaymaker desires, it caters well for dental tourists. In one clinic you can even lie in the dental chair and admire the views of the Niputche Lagoon through the clinic’s floor to ceiling window.
Phuket is the Asian version of Cancun – as far as gorgeous beaches and being popular as a holiday destination is concerned. Phuket offers a tropical island paradise where rest and recuperation is the order of the day – and the Thais are well known for their spa and pampering treatments. Why not pamper your mouth too with a dental makeover, from laser teeth whitening to dental implants, that’ll save you at least 50% on equivalent costs at home?
On the banks of the Bosphorus, linking East and West, Istanbul stands on the edge of two continents. Both Europe and Asia combine in this unique city, offering visitors the best of both worlds. It’s like visiting several cities at once, where you can shop in designer malls or haggle in bazaars, dine out in chic restaurants or grab delicious street food on-the-go – the choices are exciting and varied. There’s much on offer here for dental tourists, with world-class dental clinics providing affordable, excellent quality care to both local and international patients.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Another popular destination, especially for Americans and Canadians, who are frequent visitors to this Central American country. San Jose is the capital, with international flights arriving here frequently. The bustling metropolis is a curious mix of architectural styles, but get to know it and you’ll be charmed by historic neighborhoods and colonial mansions that have been turned into boutique hotels and fashionable art galleries. Dental tourism has been happening here for some time with many choosing to have their dental care in San Jose before heading off to explore the beaches or rainforests that make Costa Rica such an inspiring destination.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dental tourist locations – and providing you do a little research first, you shouldn’t have any problems finding a decent quality dentist, wherever you are in the world. Even if you’re not going on a dental holiday, how about getting your teeth whitened or having that check-up while you’re away? You’ll save money and feel good afterwards too.