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Smile Vacation: Why Americans Are Opting for Dental Care Abroad

Rising inflation, savings and a combined holiday tempt patients overseas

Best dentists abroad

These days it’s not unusual to talk to American tourists in major airports such as Istanbul and find they are there not primarily for a holiday, but to have their teeth done.

It makes sense. Especially when you consider the discrepancy in costs for dental work in the likes of Turkey and other European, Eastern European and Asian countries, in comparison to the United States. Only last year, a TikTok video posted by a 26-year-old female from Georgia went viral when she told how she saved more than $2000 dollars in dental care by going to Turkey for treatment. Not only that, but she enjoyed a holiday in the process.

Up to 80 per cent dental savings with dental tourism

Health Care Insider magazine showed 290,000 Americans went abroad for dental and medical procedures in 2020. In 2021 the figure was 650,000. Spending has increased from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. But their savings are between 50 per cent to 80 per cent per treatment. Just over the border in Mexico, for instance, it’s possible to get root canal treatment for up to 80 per cent less ($247 compared to $1,275 in the United States).

Over the past decade and beyond, dental treatment costs in the US have experienced a noteworthy rise. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report, there was a 23 per cent increase between 1996 and 2015. Rising inflation over the past couple of years has seen costs increase by 5.4 per cent between 2021 and 2022. That’s according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. It’s a considerable jump and unaffordable for even reasonably well-off Americans with healthcare insurance. For the many US citizens without insurance, it’s prohibitive. A recent study by the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health revealed that 77 million adults in the United States are currently without dental insurance.

Within the US, the average prices for dental treatments are as follows: $1,278 for a porcelain veneer, $1,288 for a ceramic or porcelain crown, $1,831 for a complete denture, $1,275 for root canal treatment, and $145.95 for a dental x-ray.

Reasons Americans go abroad for dentistry

Beyond the significant cost savings, it is the appealing combination of dental treatment and a holiday that entices many Americans to seek dental care abroad. However, there are additional compelling factors contributing to this trend.

One of them is the realization that dentists in foreign countries possess comparable expertise but charge less due to lower overhead expenses compared to their American counterparts. Neither do they face the same excessive malpractice insurance costs Western dentists have to pay annually. The cost of salaries for medical staff is also much less than those for American workers. And yet, many dental clinics abroad have globally recognised accreditations for excellence and professionalism.

These days there are also a number of professional medical travel agencies, such as Medical Travel Market, helping patients in the US find the right personalised treatment abroad. These companies are able to provide not just access to treatment but also hotels and flights, making dental tourism far more accessible than in the past. The fact Americans can stay anywhere in Europe, the UK and the Schengen Area for up to 90 days without requiring the hassle of having to apply for a visa is undoubtedly another big plus.

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Popular countries for US outbound dental tourism

Americans travel to various countries for dental care, seeking cost-effective treatments and quality services. Some of the popular destinations for dental tourism include:

  1. Mexico
  2. Brazil
  3. Turkey
  4. Thailand
  5. Croatia
  6. Eastern European countries (such as Hungary & Poland)
  7. Costa Rica
  8. India
  9. Philippines
  10. Colombia

These countries offer a range of dental procedures at significantly lower costs compared to the United States, making them attractive options for Americans seeking dental treatment abroad.

The popularity of Americans seeking dental treatment abroad is expected to keep growing in the foreseeable future, as long as the cost disparity remains and the appeal of accessing quality dental care at an affordable price. The opportunity of combining dental treatment with an enjoyable vacation is always a bonus.

If you are seeking dental treatment in abroad, contact our medical travel specialists for a free treatment consultation.

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