What is Dental Tourism?

When you think of tourism, you probably think of lounging on a tropical beach or exploring famous attractions in a foreign city. Now, there's another kind of tourism that people are talking about: dental tourism. Dental tourists travel to foreign countries to seek dental care. Here's what you need to know about this phenomenon.

Popular Destinations for Dental Tourists

There are many countries that are advertised as destinations for medical tourists like dental tourists. These countries include Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Malaysia and Thailand, explains Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) Magazine. Other foreign countries may also provide services to dental tourists.

Reasons for Dental Tourism

Dental tourists travel for low-cost dental care. Dental care in developed countries like the United States and Canada can be expensive. Tourists seek care in less developed countries to save money.

There are many reasons why dental care costs are less expensive in less developed regions. Labor and real estate may cost less in these regions, so dentists may have lower costs and malpractice insurance may be less expensive. As NPR explains, dentists in the United States have high-priced mandatory malpractice insurance, while dentists in Mexico don't.

Dangers of Dental Tourism

While dental care costs less in dental tourism destinations, that doesn't mean traveling for care is a good idea. There are many potential dangers associated with traveling for dental care.

Dental standards are a potential issue for tourists. Standards for foreign dentists and foreign dental practices may not be the same as the ones in the United States. For example, infection control standards can vary widely. The United States has high standards in this area, according to the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP). In some parts of the world, dentists may reuse gloves or injection needles, which puts patients at risk.

Language barriers are another potential issue with dental tourism. Dentists in other countries may not speak much or any English, which makes communication difficult. Misunderstandings can occur and may be problematic. You need to be able to communicate with your dentist to receive proper treatment.

Continuity of care is another concern. If you receive dental care in another country, the foreign dentist may not know your patient history. When you return, your own dentist may not know what treatment you received or why it was performed. For a proper follow-up, your own dentist needs to know this information.

Safe Ways to Save Money at the Dentist

An affordable dentist in your home country isn't out of reach. There are plenty of low-cost dental options that will let you seek the care you need closer to home.

Dental schools are one of these options. At dental schools, dental students offer supervised care at a reduced cost. Dental students provide services like root canals, crowns and even orthodontics, depending on the dental school. Check your nearest dental school to find out if they can fulfill your dental needs.

Some dentists also offer promotional rates. For example, some dental practices offer reasonable rates for students. Others may offer discounts for families with unique needs. Ask local dentists for more information about the discounts or sliding-scale fees they may offer.

Of course, prevention is a key part of saving money at the dentist. By brushing your teeth twice a day with your Colgate Total Daily Repair toothpaste, you can help keep your teeth healthy. This toothpaste strengthens teeth by remineralizing weakened enamel. Don't forget to floss once a day, too. See your dentist regularly for check-ups so that dental issues can be treated early, before they turn into bigger problems.

Traveling for dental care may seem appealing, but remember — you get what you pay for. Lower-priced services may not be as safe or as high-quality as the care you can get at home.

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