There are positive and negative factors to take into account when you are deciding if you should consider taking part in dental tourism and going abroad to a dentist.
With the present recession, one feels lucky just to have a job, while others have had the misfortune to have been let go. Fewer and fewer people have dental insurance, and those that do find that their insurance plans are very limited in what they will pay. Many people are financially stressed these days. It is easy to neglect your teeth right now, and yet one can only go so long before they start loosing some of them. Because some folks are unwilling to neglect their teeth, they have been looking for alternatives, such as going outside of the USA, in order to take advantage of the incredibly lower costs available for dental care. This new industry is often referred to as dental tourism. Here are some of the pluses and the minuses of dental tourism.
Positive reason: the cost factor. Outside the United States, dentistry costs from 20% to 40% of what you would be charged for the same work home. This is a very big plus, and is the main motivator for dental tourism. Some people need very expensive treatments, and can enjoy a huge savings. For example, a full mouth restoration of 28 crowns and a few root canals can cost over $40,000 in the USA, while abroad, it can be under $7,000. Some folks just need a couple of root canals and 3 or 4 crowns. In the US that could cost them $7-8,000, while abroad, it might run around $1200-1,500. It really doesn’t take much dental work to run up a bill of several thousand dollars.
Negative reason: the expenses of travel and time away. Going to your local dentist is much more convenient. You won’t have to take much time off from work, and the expense of getting to the office is incidental. To go to a dentist abroad requires the cost of airfare, unless you live very close to the border. It may also require taking a week of vacation time and the costs of motel rooms. A person will have to weight the costs and decide if it is worth it. There is a big reason that most dental tourism takes place in Tijuana, Mexico, rather than to Asia, or Central America. Airfare into San Diego, CA is very inexpensive, and Tijuana is very easy to get to from San Diego Airport. In fact, many Tijuana dental clinics will send someone to pick their patients up at the Airport. Also, hotel accommodations are much cheaper in Tijuana. Since most clinics can do almost any major work in a week, you could calculate around $350 for airfare and travel expense, $300 for lodging, and $150 for meals, (although a certain amount of that you would spend eating at home). So a trip to the dentist might cost you $800. But if you are going to save over $2,000 on the difference of dental costs, you would save $1200 after expenses. Just one root canal with a post and crown could cost over $2,000 in the US, and would only cost a little over $500 in Tijuana. Add a couple of fillings, and your savings would be over $1800. So even with a little dental work, dental tourism in Mexico it may be well worth the savings.
Positive reason: the quality is very good. Dental tourism has done well because the truth is dentists abroad have good training, decent equipment, and do quality work. They have health protocols that they must follow and while the office may not be fancy, things are safe and sanitary, and they certainly have what they need to get the job done. Sure, there are some dentists abroad that do shoddy work, but there are also dentists in the USA that also do poor work. Sometimes in the US it seems that all they care about is the money. One has to be careful where ever they go. Many dentists in the US have even been guilty of over prescribing treatments, and like a shady car mechanic, telling some patients that they need to get things done that are not needed. This could happen anywhere, so one needs to do their homework and check references. While it is almost impossible to get a US dentist to give you names of patients to use as a reference, fortunately, most good dentists in Tijuana will have a list of US patient who have volunteered to let themselves be contacted as references. Because people are more cautious about a dentist abroad, the dentists in Tijuana are used to asking patients to serve as references. US dentists will claim patient confidentiality, and it is assumed that because they are “American” dentists, they must be good, but it may not be so. But in reality, whether at home or abroad, as for references, and if they won’t give them, don’t go there.
Negative reason: it is very inconvenient if there are problems. Any good dentist, whether at home or abroad, should give a guarantee for their work. The problem is, if the dentist is in another country, a return trip is a lot more expensive. This is a big minus for dental tourism. So again, a person needs to take this into account and put into the calculation. .This is another reason most people who look abroad for dental work stay away from distant places. Going to Tijuana is no more difficult than going to San Diego. So if you have to go back, it is not that bad. If you do your homework, check the references of your dentist, and give the adequate time to work, you shouldn’t have any problems. But if you do have to go back to get something redone or fixed, you must take that into account.
So should you go abroad and be one who takes advantage of dental tourism, or should you stay with your local dentist? You have to make that decision. When it comes down to spending a lot of money you can never afford to save your smile, or loosing your teeth, compared to spending just a fraction of that money, along with the inconvenience of traveling down to Mexico, more and more people have made that choice. They are flocking south by the thousands. Dental tourism certainly seems to make more sense. It is just so easy to head off for Tijuana, to keep your smile looking great.
The author has gone through all the steps of searching for and locating a quality dentist in Mexico. He gives his endorsement to Samaritan Dental in Tijuana. They have a high level of skill and professional integrity. They stand behind their work, and take great care of their patients.