Before the COVID-19 outbreak, dental tourism projections for 2020 were good. Most estimates expected the market to grow by 10-14%. The United States has been a big driver in this market with U.S. citizens spending more than US$5 billion on dental tourism in 2019.
It’s likely that once the world re-opens dental tourism will continue to offer opportunities. Hotel and rental prices are likely to fall. Falling demand for airline tickets could mean further savings.
What Is Dental Tourism?
Dental tourism involves a patient travelling overseas to receive dental treatment. This is often combined with a vacation but not always. Some people combine dental tourism and medical tourism, which involves health care procedures.
Dental can involve major work, but is usually focused on cosmetic procedures or a general check-up. Things like teeth whitening or a scrape and polish are popular options. These minor treatments won’t impact on the rest of your vacation, either.
The savings from this work can be used to offset some of the cost of the vacation.
Why Is Dental Tourism Thriving?
The main reason is the savings on offer. In some of the countries on this list savings can be as high as 90% on what you would pay in the United States. In some cases it can be cheaper to fly, stay in a hotel, and pay for treatment overseas, than to book the same procedure at home.
But, dental tourism isn’t only affordable. The quality is at least as good as, and sometimes better than you can find in the States. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to take chances with a substandard dentist. The potential for pain is too great. Dentist and equipment in these big destinations are both top quality. In Central and South America, and the Caribbean, the dentists will often hold a U.S. license as well as their own license.
How To Ensure You Have A Good Experience
The most important thing is to do thorough research. Always check for the accreditations of the clinics that you are considering. Many sites post reviews from satisfied customers so take the time to read through these. Expat sites and travel sites usually have a question and answer page. Post some questions there asking people to share their experiences.
Don’t get obsessed with savings. If a clinic is notably cheaper than the others in the same country then that should be a red flag.
7. Dominican Republic
Not only is the Dominican Republic an idyllic and affordable Caribbean country, it’s also a top destination for dental treatment. The Dominican Republic specializes in cosmetic procedures and also dental implants.
The Dominican Republic has some of the best beaches in the world making it a great place to vacation. We also recommend the Dominican Republic as one of the best places to get a second residency.
Dentists in the Dominican Republic don’t work to the same tight schedule that you can find in the United States. While this means your appointment may be delayed, there is a positive aspect to this. Dentists take their time to ensure the job is done properly and all the patients questions are concerned are addressed.
Panama has a lot going for it as a dental tourism destination. Prices are about 50% cheaper than in the U.S. for most procedures. Standards are high too. It’s easy to find English-speaking dentists. Appointments are easy to make, and there is little waiting around.
Panama City is the best place for dental work in Panama. You might find better prices in the countryside, but the standard varies when you move out of the capital. Within Panama City is where you can find the best clinics and best dentists.
Panama doesn’t have the same kind of dental tourism packages that you can find in other countries. Luckily it’s easy to book flights, hotel, and source a dentist. Panama uses the U.S. dollar as it’s currency so you don’t have to work out exchange rates.
The cities of Cartagena, Bogotá, and Medellín all offer dental treatment at affordable prices. You can expect to save an average of 70% on what you would pay in the United States. Colombia is also a top option for medical tourism, with some of the best hospitals in South America.
Colombia is ahead of the curve for medical and dental care. Clinics are equipped with all the latest technology and equipment. There are lots of English-speakers, and package deals are available.
Colombia is a great place to spend time and nowhere near as dangerous as the media sometimes makes out. Expats have been making the journey to Colombia for years and many report that they feel safer in Colombia than they did in the United States. The U.S. dollar is very strong against the Colombian Peso and your money is going further than ever in Colombia.
Thailand sees more tourists than any other country in Southeast Asia. Tourist and expats have always been drawn to the tropical beaches, famous cuisine, culture and history. Recently though, medical and dental tourists have started making the journey to Thailand. Thailand has world-class dental facilities and the savings can be huge. As much as 85% discount on what you would pay in the United States. The average rate of saving is closer to 60%. The best value is usually for dental implant, veneers, and teeth whitening.
The best place to go for dental tourism in Thailand is Bangkok. The city is very pedestrian friendly with numerous options for getting around. The Sky Train is the best way to travel across the city. For shorter distances, taxis are affordable and easy to find. Bangkok has an amazing street food scene and legendary nightlife. For more laid-back options you can visit the Bang Krachao Gardens and the Grand Palace.
In 2019 an estimated 6.5 million people travelled to Mexico for dental treatment. Approximately 1.1 million of those were from the United States. Like all dental tourists, the primary concern was to save money. For Americans, there is another advantage. Treatment in Mexico is convenient.
Mexico isn’t the cheapest destination on this list. The savings are closer to 50 or 60%, but it’s the only destination you can drive to. It’s the most affordable to reach, so you can subtract long-haul flights from your final bill. The proximity allows you to save time as well. The most important commodity of all.
In 2020 we recommended Mexico as one of the best places to live or retire overseas. Affordable, safe, welcoming and familiar Mexico allows you to live better for a fraction of the price. Mexico is a great escape for snowbirds too. Much of Mexico is sunny throughout the year, you can swap shoveling snow for the beach.
There is a strong case to be made for Hungary being the world’s top dental tourism destination. Hungary was one of the first countries to benefit from dental tourism. Pioneering treatment and low prices meant that many Austrians would take the trip over the border for treatment. Today Hungary is a favorite with Europeans who use low-cost airlines to visit for a long weekend.
Hungary is famous for Goulash, a hearty stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika. Foodies will enjoy the Eastern European cuisine they can find in Hungary. Budapest is a great city to spend time in. There is an exciting and varied nightlife, and plenty of cultural pursuits. It’s inexpensive both in terms of food and drink, and accommodation. It also has architecture and buildings to rival any city in the world.
Prices are around a third of what you would pay in the United States or other European countries. Hungary might not be the best option for Americans, but it’s still possible to save money if you visit for major treatment. Americans considering a part time home in one of our favorite European countries can feel reassured knowing affordable and high-quality treatment is close at hand.
India is now the best place in the world to go for dental tourism in 2020. Prices are an average of 70% lower than the States rising to 90% in some cases. A filling costs around US$25 and a root canal less than US$200.
Like all the destinations on this list, the latest techniques and technologies are available. Many of the top clinics have international accreditation and partnerships with western hospitals.
The big advantage that India has over the other countries on the list is the number of English-speakers. India has the second highest number of English-speakers outside the U.S. and you can be sure of finding a dentist who speaks English.
India is a magical place to spend a vacation. Visiting the Taj Mahal is an obvious attraction, just make sure you get there very early and beat the crowds. India is one of the world’s earliest civilizations and it would take dozens of trips to take in all the fort’s, temples, plazas and squares.