Dental care can be expensive, especially when it’s not covered by insurance. Much of the cosmetic dental work done in America is not covered, making cosmetic dentistry a significant investment in one's health and well-being. Thankfully there are options such as health savings accounts and financing, but for some people there’s a new option that is making headlines around the country. There has been a recent increase in interest in something called "tourism dentistry," where American dental patients go to other countries for dental work. Proponents say it’s both cheaper and "just as good" as the care you might receive domestically. But is that really true?
The Real Cost of Foreign Dentistry
"It’s easy to compare apples to apples when you are looking at the same procedure done domestically and abroad, but the procedure itself is only part of the cost," says Dr. Gary Lederman, a dentist from Bellmore, New York. "You must also factor in travel time, travel expenses, hotel expenses and the travel cost of anyone who accompanies you to your procedure. And that’s just if everything goes well."
According to Lederman, if things go wrong, you’re looking at repeat visits to either a foreign or domestic dentist, not to mention the pain and discomfort of a repeat procedure.
"In many cases, having foreign work corrected domestically may end up costing you more than if you’d just had it done here in the States," Lederman says.
Board Certification Matters
Another reason to stick to your local provider? One of the built-in insurance policies you have here in the United States is board certification. A dentist with board certification is a dentist who attends regular additional training and is current on all her or his dental licenses and certifications. Board certification ensures that you are in capable hands for your oral health care needs.
"Unfortunately, when you go to a dentist abroad, you no longer have the same board-certification standards. In fact, many cases of fake dentists and doctors in foreign countries have arisen in recent years as American patients increasingly leave the country for medical care," says Lederman.
Another perk proponents of tourism dentistry keep talking up is the opportunity to vacation while you get your dental work done.
"Well, who really wants to do that?" Lederman says. "If you require any lengthy procedures, you likely won’t have time or money to stay as long as you’d need to, and you may be in too much discomfort to enjoy your vacation."
Lederman has one final question for patients considering tourism dentistry.
"Why not invest in sound medical care here in the U.S. and save the tropical beach vacation for when you’re feeling great and can enjoy yourself, instead of healing from a dental procedure?"