We sometimes wonder why people opt for dental tourism, when they have all the dental facilities in their home town. Dental tourist travel from high income countries to low cost countries, in order to find high quality dental care at a low price or sometimes it may be because of their access to health care service.
Promising low cost and high quality, dental service outlets in developing countries like Mexico, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, India, Australia, the Philippines are pitching their services to relatively affluent, yet cost-conscious health care consumers in Western Europe and the United States.
One Dental Clinic in New Delhi, India, for example, tells Web site visitors that U.S. and European dentists “can charge $300 to $400 for a single caries restoration that “costs only $20 to $40 in India.”
Never mind that even a discounted round-trip ticket to New Delhi from, say, Chicago or any other developing country would save the traveler more than few dollars.
Westerners from America and Western Europe are not trekking to India or Eastern Europe for single routine restorations or cavity fillings. Most that go the extra miles need extensive care that, as they see it, justifies the added expense, particularly when a dental visit is combined with an exotic vacation.
Health care tourism has emerged in recent years as a very rapidly growing phenomenon where the traveler from the western countries, the one with more money travel to developing poor countries where the cost of expenses is far less when compared to their own towns or cities. This dental care trip is combined along with holiday trip or mixed with vacation
We get information regarding the towns in Hungary and other Eastern European countries where “brass plaques and molar-shaped signs bearing easy-to-grasp names like ‘Eurodent’ and ‘Happy Dent’ line the streets along a central shopping district.
A survey suggested that for most people, particularly in the northern regions, dental tourism is not high on their list of concerns, and for good reason. It’s not a major issue with a lot of their members, at least for now.
Further south, however, some patients leaving the country for dental treatment is a larger issue, though it hardly qualifies as news.
Dental tourism is a sector of medical tourism seeking dental care outside their local healthcare The term ‘dental tourism’ may be new, but certainly what we see happening is not new, said Dr. John S. Findley, who represents the 15th District (Texas) on the ADA Board of Trustees. “I don’t think it’s new anywhere, but it’s especially not new in Texas.”
Dr. Findley said he’s estimated that the state’s lower Rio Grande Valley, as much as 30 percent of the population will cross the border for dental care in a given year.
“But it’s not really a Texas or border-state problem,” he added. “Disappearing borders and the ease of air travel today make a flat world a shrinking world. It’s easy to travel anywhere.”
Dr. Ivan E. Rodriguez, immediate past president of the Rio Grande Valley District Dental Society in Brownsville, Texas, noted that literally hundreds of dental offices and clinics are crowded into the cities and towns south of the border. “I’m told the area has the highest number of dentists per capita in the world,” he said.
(The town of Nuevo Progreso, for example, advertises itself as the border “crossing point of choice” and boasts that the community is home to 90 to 100 dental offices.)
Some dentists interviewed for this report blamed employers and insurers for allegedly encouraging patients to travel in pursuit of reduced-fee treatments. But Dr. Frank Ceja of National City, Calif., about 15 miles from the border with Mexico, said that insurance may not be the driving force.
“Most of the people who go down there don’t have insurance,” he said. “That’s why they go down there.” The dental insurance and their formalities are forcing people to travel to foreign developing countries to get their dental treatment done. They don’t require any such insurance or extra taxes to get treated.
The ADA is keeping an eye on the phenomenon of dental tourism as just one element of globalization — a wide range of economic, social and geopolitical factors affecting the way of life for millions around the world, including U.S. dentists and the patients they serve.
In today’s world people are finding new ways to get quality service at low price. And this can be achieved through dental tourism; this is the reason why dental tourism is flourishing as never before.