Medical facilities are not same in all the corners of the world – in terms of the cost of treatment or the quality of treatment.
This is especially true in the case of dental treatment. In some countries, it is cheap to get a root canal treatment for a tooth compared to others.
With the rise in pressure for the perfect 32, patients seek a more affordable way to get a pearly white smile. This has given rise to the concept of ‘dental tourism’ or ‘dental vacations’. Basically it is travelling from countries having a higher cost of dental treatment to cities or countries with a lower cost of dental treatment to avail quality care at a reasonable price.
Dental tourism is defined as seeking dental treatment outside the local healthcare system, in areas where it is cheaper usually when on vacation in that area.
In short, Dental treatment + Tour = Dental Tourism.
Americans visits dentists in border towns of Mexico, Australians visit Thailand and people from England visits Poland for economical dental treatment.
People travelling solely to avail dental benefits prefer to travel to countries with shared borders like Australia to Thailand, US and Canada to Mexico, etc. The reason behind it may be that if something goes wrong, it would not be a long way to return to fix it.
Developing countries like India provide greater advantage of dental tourism to resident dentists as treatment in India is comparatively cheaper than in developed countries. It is reported that dental tourism comprises of about 30% of Indian medical tourism and the rate is increasing at high pace.
It not only exposes the efficiency of our dental experts to international markets but also adds to exchequer of a country by attracting more tourists in turn flourishing the tourism industry as well.
Many immigrants also tend to return to their home country to get their teeth fixed. Even Cheaper!
Now the question arises – what is the reason for this difference in cost of treatment? The cost of treatment depends on factors like –
- Labor costs
- Government intervention
- Education costs
- Real estate costs
- Insurance cost etc.
These are comparatively cheaper in developing countries. So dentists can make the dream of a pretty smile come true for many overseas patients who otherwise could not afford a dental implant or a full mouth rehabilitation.
If Dental treatment + Travel expense+ Luxury hotel accommodation is significantly cheaper as compared to dental expenses aloe n their country, then why not?
But cheap should not mean of low quality. In today’s competitive world, one must be also technologically advanced and use good quality material along with low cost compared to their peers in the developed countries.
How dental tourism works?
Foreign tourists contact their travel agent or the dentist’s clinic directly
They inquire about the appropriate time for visiting and fixing the appointment accordingly.
Tour operators arrange all the documents and facilitate the trip
Travellers visits the tourist country and undergo the treatment
Travellers leave country and remain in contact with the dentist.
What makes India a favoured dental tourism destination?
- First of all it is the one of the most favoured tourist destinations. The diverse culture, historical monuments, tasty delicacies and traditional arts attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. It is home to the Taj Mahal in Agra, old churches in Goa, the majestic Golden Temple in Punjab and fresh Kerala Backwaters to name a few.
- It is a niche for well qualified dentists providing quality dental treatment at affordable prices.
- Most of the dentists here have basic knowledge of English which makes it easier for patients to communicate and understand better.
- Sterilisation protocols followed here are on par with international standards.
- Treatment quality of developed countries provided at the same rate of developing countries.
- State of the art medical establishments with great reputations.
- Low medication cost due to strong pharma sector and generic drugs.
- Low labour cost.
- Alternative medicines like Ayurveda, yoga etc.
How to reach potential dental tourists?
- Add your dental practice to medical tourism portals. They promote it in India and overseas.
- Good dental tourism companies advertise “all inclusive” travel packages that include treatment cost, hotel room reservation, sight seeing and airline tickets.
- Good advertising platforms are a must. With the rising use of internet, patients are able to conduct an online research for details like your qualification, experience, working standards and patient reviews.
- There should be absolute co-ordination between the national dental association of the country, its local bodies and tourism promoting bodies of the country.
- Quality assurance is a must in order to promote dental tourism in any country. There must be a provision in law to take actions against the dentists who violate the quality norms.
- Proper regulation of quality of education, proper training of assistants, selection of equipment and supplies in each country should be there.
- Electronic records of patient history, treatment management and proper co-ordination with medical tourism companies in case of any queries.
- Plan visits in such a manner that patient can travel to various tourist destinations in between the visits so that it is a treat to the patient along with the treatment of their oral complaints.
- Tie up with insurers abroad and tour operators locally and also advertise in newspapers / magazines / websites of the country you want to cover.
Medical tourism companies in India
- Patient Beyond Borders
- International Wellness and Healthcare Travel Association
Dental tourism is emerging as a new tool for promoting and coupling dental healthcare industry along with tourism industry which has a wide scope in the near future because of the expected rise in dental treatment costs.
It can prove to be boon to dental practitioners as well as dental tourists if proper ethics and quality control are taken care of.