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Comparing the costs of dental treatment abroad

One of the main reasons that people travel abroad for dental treatment is to save money. Dental treatment in some countries can cost as much as 70% less than it does in others, with the UK and USA among the most expensive, while Hungary, Poland and Mexico are among the cheapest.

How to start comparing costs

How do you go about comparing the cost of dental treatment abroad, and what factors should you consider when making your decision?

Before you start looking for prices for dental treatment abroad, you should see your home dentist for a full assessment. They will tell you exactly what treatment you need. You can then research different clinics, in different countries, using the internet, knowing exactly what it is you are asking for.

Always get a range of quotes, from a range of countries, and weigh up the cost, convenience and even your interest in visiting that country, before you make your choice. And don’t forget to factor in the additional costs of dental travel – flights, accommodation, and insurance for you and a relative or friend who may accompany you on your trip.

Dental treatment abroad – how much can you save?

When you compare the price of dentistry in the most expensive countries with dentistry in the cheapest, the savings are remarkable. Root canal work that can cost anything up to $2,000 in the US can be found for as little as $440 in El Salvador or $495 in Mexico. Similarly, in the UK, root canal treatment can cost as much as £200 per root, yet can be found for just £40 in Latvia and less in Serbia.

The actual savings you make will depend on the treatment you have, but by shopping around you should be able to reduce your bill by at least half, if not substantially more.

Low cost doesn’t necessarily mean low quality

It is easy to assume that low prices mean low quality treatment, but this is not necessarily the case. Many modern dental practices abroad boast equipment and facilities that are state-of-the-art. Dental treatment abroad is a highly competitive industry and so clinics have to ensure that they are offering the very best in order to attract international patients.

That said, you should always ensure that you are being quoted for the best materials. It is easy to save money by using inferior quality crowns or bridges, compared to more durable versions that use more expensive components such as gold. Some clinics will use this as a tactic to attract clients without making it clear where the savings have been made.

Consider the total cost of dental treatment abroad

As with all medical treatment abroad, it is important to take into account the full cost of your trip. This includes:

  • Flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Hotel accommodation
  • Meals
  • Time off work

Some of the leading clinics will provide an all-inclusive package, which can even include extras such as chauffeur collection from the airport. These clinics can often get special deals at local hotels and so they are well worth considering.

You should bear in mind that many types of dental treatment will require more than one session, and that often these appointments need to be several weeks apart to allow for healing in between. In this case, you will need to account for multiple flights and accommodation. However, at the other end of the scale, some treatments may only take a single, brief visit, and so they can be incorporated into a holiday in countries such as Turkey, Greece or Cyprus, without too much disruption. In this case, you could say that there is no extra cost for your travel and stay, as you are already there for your usual summer break.

Compare like with like

It is important that you get a full cost breakdown when you ask for a quote for dental treatment abroad. Some clinics may generate attractive headline prices by omitting to mention extras, such as anaesthetics, materials, X-rays and imaging. You should make sure that you are comparing like for like in order to get an accurate comparison.

If you are comparing all-inclusive packages with trips you book yourself, remember to factor in the convenience of having everything taken care of and booked on your behalf. This can add considerable value compared to the time and trouble of sourcing each individual element yourself, even if you can do this at a slightly lower cost.

Who pays if something goes wrong?

Another important factor in comparing the cost of dental treatment abroad is who foots the bill if anything goes wrong. Extra treatment to put right a problem can be very expensive, as can extra travel and accommodation to reach the dentist and clinic where you originally had the work. You should always ensure that you have a written contract that details the clinic’s responsibilities in the event of a problem, and that they have appropriate insurance cover to meet these costs.

Will I get a guarantee?

Many dental clinics that treat international patients will offer a guarantee. A guarantee is often overlooked by patients when deciding which dental clinic to choose. For some, it may be the deciding factor that differentiates one clinic from another. Ask for details of the clinic’s guarantee (if it has one), and consider:

  • What period the guarantee covers – one year? Five years? Lifetime? The guarantee may differ according to the type of treatment e.g. a lifetime guarantee may be offered on some types of implant, but a five year guarantee on a crown.
  • Whether the guarantee covers the cost of flights and accommodation, if you need to return to the clinic for corrective treatment.
  • Whether the guarantee covers the cost of any corrective dental treatment in your own country.
  • What exclusions there are to the guarantee.

Choose the best value, not the cheapest quote

As with so many things in life, the lowest price is not always the best value. Clinics that cut corners and compromise on standards and quality will put you at risk of serious problems. Serious mistakes could cause damage that would be very costly to put right.

Dental treatment abroad is a highly competitive market, so chances are you will find that prices within one country or region fall broadly in line with each other. If a single clinic stands out as far cheaper than the rest, you should ask why. After all, if they can do it cheaper, why aren’t their competitors? If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is and should therefore be avoided, however tempting it may be.

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