There’s no denying the cost of a trip to the dentist can sometimes bust the budget, especially when the treatment involves intricate work like extractions, veneers and other cosmetic procedures. So, when an offer comes along promising “discount” dental treatment, wrapped into an exotic holiday, more and more Americans are considering making it a package deal, but often without thinking about the consequences.
However, while it’s a practice that may definitely be cheaper in the short term, it’s also costing people dearly down the track. Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are all a part of a growing dental tourism industry. Patients Beyond Borders, a company that books travellers’ surgery holidays to Mexico, the Caribbean, Thailand and other exotic locales, said the growing popularity of ‘Dental Tourism’ often comes down to cost. For instance, being fixed with a set of clear braces in Southeast Asia is almost half the price it is here at home.
The company claims that in order to avoid disaster, dental travellers should do their homework, only use internationally accredited practices and consider the hygiene and skill of the dentist. They say they recommend only approved surgeries which they have inspected, however the onus remains on the patient to do the research — despite living half a world away.
It’s a risk, many dental practitioners — including Dr. Meyers — say isn’t worth it. In America, you’re guaranteed to be seen by a qualified professional, not to mention if something goes horribly wrong you’re covered by your insurance or Medicaid. And, dental practitioners in the States must, of course, speak English. If something goes wrong in a foreign country where English is not the first language, what happens next? Certain infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B and HIV may be contracted when proper preventive hygiene protocol is not followed. In America, dentists conform to stringent regulations ensuring patients are kept safe and not infected.
The most comprehensive, complex and professionally challenging of procedures are often completed in stages. An initial part of the procedure is performed, allowed to heal, and then followed up with a second or even third stage of the process. During these overseas trips, many times, what would be multi-visit procedures in the US are conflated into single visit procedures. This single sitting instead of multiple treatments may actually be medically dangerous. There are many stories of ‘Dental Tourists” who have had to get botched procedures corrected here at home, with corrective surgery far more expensive than what they went overseas to get done in the first place.
There are so many places in life where one can save money and cut corners. Your health should never be one of them. One could find oneself coming home looking worse that when one left, or potentially ill or physically harmed.
Consider too, that most dentists today have payment plans for more extensive and expensive treatments. We certainly would recommend discussing such a payment plan with your dentist, and taking your vacation separate from the dental work.