Look Before You Bite – The Risks of Dental Tourism

 In Dentistry

dental tourismAs dental costs increase, more people are turning to dental tourism to save money. These “dental vacations” are gaining in popularity, but are they a good idea? A quick internet search reveals several websites dedicated to helping patients travel overseas to developing nations such as Romania, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Thailand for dental procedures. But before you book that trip overseas, you might want to consider a few things first.


Being so close to Mexico’s border, it’s not hard to see why so many patients in San Antonio and throughout Texas strongly consider dental tourism. At face value, the cost of dental work outside the US can be cheaper – a $1000 procedure in the US may cost $250 in Mexico, thanks to a lower cost of living and cheaper labor costs.

But when you factor in travel fare, lodging, food, passport fees, and other travel related costs, it adds up fairly quickly. And if you need to bring a second person along (which is strongly recommended), their costs bump up the total overall price. And if your care requires multiple visits, you may have to make more than one trip. In the end, you may not really save anything at all.

Safety and quality

There are plenty of stories where patients received poor dental work outside the US. Dentists in other countries can be just as good as a US dentist, but there’s no guarantee. Some procedures require multiple visits to allow the mouth to heal before the next phase. Many dental tourists cannot stay for the length of time needed and the dentist may try to do too much, compromising the quality of their work as a result.

Dental schooling in other countries differs greatly from the US, which could affect the quality of work as well. For example, dentists in the US must complete four years of college in a related field before they enroll in four years of dental school. Other countries, like Mexico, require half as much schooling. Some of these dentists may go on to study dentistry more in depth, but they’re not required to.

Lack of regulations

People choose dental tourism because they think they’ll save money on complex and costly procedures. But the more complex the procedure, the greater the likelihood something will go wrong. Dentists in other countries don’t have malpractice insurance, which is partly why their costs are so much cheaper. If something goes wrong with the procedure you had done outside the US, you could end up paying substantially more to have it repaired by an American dentist.

Additionally, many of these countries have different laws and standards regarding medical procedures. Here in the US, if something goes terribly wrong, you have the ability to pursue legal action against your dentist. But if you get dental work done outside the US and it doesn’t go well, you have no recourse. The US cannot prosecute dentists outside the country.

Here at Wurzbach Parkway Family Dental in San Antonio, we care about our patients’ health and safety. If you’ve been thinking about becoming a dental tourist, come visit our offices and talk to us. We would love to answer any of your questions, and have several payment options to help with the cost of your dental care. Give us a call today at 210.877.2273!

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