Choosing a good dentist is as important as choosing a good surgeon and if appearance is important to you so is dental hygiene. If you have a dental insurance most likely it does not cover oral surgeries, braces and cosmetic treatments and if it does, it may just be a small percentage of the total cost which is still sky high. High premiums have small deductibles, small premiums have a high deductible so either way you are paying way too much for dental care, feeding the pockets of your insurance company and dentist.
What if I told you that it does not have to be expensive and you could combine it with a vacation?! You are not going to fly across the ocean for a check-up and cleaning but if you need major work than consider getting it done outside of the United States. You will save a lot even with the air tickets! If you have family and friends living abroad you may have a free place to stay but if you can arrange your dental appointment during a business trip, you get your airfare and hotel for free! If you don’t know anybody abroad and don’t travel for business, you can still do it, it is so easy!
What is dental tourism? It is a network of dental clinics that specialize on foreign patients arriving to a country for major dental work, staying for a short time and traveling between dental visits. You are NOT going to be bed-ridden after dental treatments so basically you can do anything from sightseeing to rafting as long as you take care of your teeth and follow doctor orders. There is no consultation because they only need to look at your medical records and X-ray online and by the time you get to the clinic the dental supplies are already delivered and the staff is prepped for surgery. These high end clinics don’t do check-up and cleanings or take walk-in clients, which means that you never have to wait just because a local walked in with an emergency. These clinics are considered to be expensive for locals; only cater to foreigners and schedule appointments months in advance. Whatever you need from implants to bone transplants and skin grafts, from braces to crowns and bridges, you can get it done. Yes, even braces, they can put it on for you, just get the monthly adjustments done back home. So, let’s do this step by step.
First, pick a country you would like to visit and google “dental tourism”. You are going to get a list of dental clinics, read their reviews and select about 4-5 of them. These clinics have a professional website featuring their dentists with credentials and listing their services and fees but for specific information and availability you need to send them an email first. If you don’t hear back from them within the next few business days, eliminate them. Having a good communication and customer service is essential when you are a foreign patient. European clinics speak multiple languages so if you speak one of the major languages, you will be fine.
Once you made contact with a dental clinic, you will have to email your dental records and X-rays then choose between materials and treatment options in order to estimate a total price. Keep in mind that you will have to pay with their currency but they accept all major credit cards. Use a credit card that does not have a foreign transaction fee and awards you with either miles/points or a cash rebate. I do not suggest you taking a large amount of cash with you abroad for safety reasons.
Based on your needs they are going to assign you a dentist, tell you how long you must stay in the country and explain you how the appointments will be spread out during that time. It is advised to schedule your treatment soon after you arrive because you need to leave time for a follow-up visit or in case something goes wrong.
If all looks good and you agree to the plan, go ahead and purchase your air ticket. You already know how long you need to stay abroad so choose your travel dates, and if you want to travel a bit leave some extra time for that. The sooner you want to leave the more expensive it will get so my recommendation is to pick your travel dates within the next 3 months to get a good deal for air travel. This blog is only about dental tourism but if you need tips on how to get good deals, please read my other blogs on www.travelbigspendsmall.com.
When you have your tickets, notify your dentist about your arrival date, flight number and the time of arrival because a driver will pick you up at the airport (his fee is incorporated into the total cost). He will be in charge of transporting you between the airport, the clinic and your hotel or accommodation. The clinics usually offer a few hotels to stay and normally can get you a lower room rate than a travel agency would simply because they work with the hotels directly and buy in bulk. If you need a hotel for your stay that is going to be an extra cost but the driver is included for your convenience either way.
We have tried dental tourism in Hungary since we have friends and family there so we saved on hotel. It worked out perfectly fine, the dental work looks great, can’t be happier. We got an estimate here in the USA for $25K but by getting the work done in Hungary we saved 75% including airfare (two air travel 6 months apart). As a matter of fact we got more jobs done for less than whatever was proposed for $25K. Consider flying to Budapest, enjoy what the city has to offer, visit a thermal bath or take a trip to Prague or Vienna in between the dental treatments, they are just 3-4 hours away.