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Why choose dental treatment abroad?

In the rapidly growing field of medical tourism, one area that is proving particularly popular is dental treatment abroad. From US citizens crossing the border to Mexico, to UK and Western European citizens travelling to Eastern Europe, huge numbers of people are prepared to travel for their dentistry. So why do so many people decide to travel abroad for dental treatment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of making such a trip?

Reasons people choose dental treatment abroad

The main reason people travel abroad for dentistry is to save money. Private dental treatment can be incredibly expensive in countries such as the US and the UK, while countries such as Mexico, Hungary and Poland can offer the same standards of treatment for up to 70% less.

More people are prepared to travel for dental treatment because the procedures involved rarely require the same recovery time as other treatments, such as major cosmetic surgery. It is much easier to combine a holiday with your low cost treatment if you don’t have to spend most of it staying out of the sun and avoiding alcohol and late nights. In many cases, you can enjoy a holiday and get your dental treatment abroad for less than the cost of the treatment alone in your home country.

Cost advantages of dental treatment abroad

Price is the biggest advantage of dental treatment abroad. For example, crowns can cost up to $3,000 in the USA, yet as little as $495 across the border in Mexico. Similarly, a crown that costs around £375 in the UK can cost as little as £65 in the Ukraine. In the USA, where an estimated 10 million people have no dental cover, treatment abroad is often the only affordable option.

The advantages of availability

Treatment abroad also helps you to ‘jump the queue’ if there is limited availability of affordable dental treatment at home. In some countries, state funded dental care may be in short supply, with no availability at all or long waiting lists; private dentist prices can be prohibitively expensive. Dental treatment abroad gives you the speed of seeing a private dentist without the cost.

For European citizens, the new regulations on cross-border medical treatment mean that anyone from any European state has the right to seek medical treatment in another EU country. In mainland Europe, travelling across a country border may allow you to save money, and the actual journey time may be less than going to a specialist dental centre in your own country. See the UK patient'sguide to the European Directive on Cross Border Healthcare.

Dental clinics abroad

Private dental clinics are in a highly competitive market and you will often find that they go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and confident. Private dentists usually have state of the art equipment and facilities, in order to attract foreign business, with highly trained and experienced staff who understand the issues surrounding treatment in a strange land. Some will even go as far as organising your whole trip, from booking hotels to sending a chauffeur to the airport to collect you on arrival.

By choosing dental treatment abroad, you can sometimes  get superior materials too. In countries where healthcare is under pressure, the materials used in dentistry will often be the most cost effective, rather than the best, in order to get the most from limited budgets. Treatment abroad can offer better quality for a lower or comparable price.

Disadvantages of dental treatment abroad

Despite the significant savings that can be made, there are still disadvantages to goimng abroad for dental treatment. The biggest of these is often the language barrier. Many people are apprehensive about dental treatment to begin with, and if you cannot communicate clearly with your dentist, you may not fully understand what to expect. For example, discomfort that is a perfectly normal part of your procedure can be very worrying if it has not been explained to you in advance.

The other disadvantage of dental treatment abroad is the fact that many dental treatments, such as crowns and implants, require more than one visit, with several weeks healing time in between. Add in the cost of multiple flights and hotel stays and the savings on treatment prices can soon be eaten up.

Clearly there are also disadvantages in aftercare when you have dental treatment abroad. If anything goes wrong with treatment from a local dentist, you can simply call in and get it seen to. This is not so easy if you have travelled hundreds of miles to a foreign country. Furthermore, in the worst case scenario, you may find it much more difficult to pursue a claim for medical negligence against a dentist in another country.

Is dental treatment abroad right for you?

Your choice as to whether dental treatment abroad is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including the dental problem you have, the budget you are prepared to spend and the length of time you are prepared to wait for your treatment.

Some treatments are simply not practical to have done far from home, whereas others fit neatly into a holiday break without causing too much disruption. Your home dentist will usually be able to advise you whether treatment abroad is a good idea for you or not, and you should always have a full clinical assessment by your own dentist before seeking treatment abroad.

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