When you mention medical tourism, most people think of cosmetic surgery. The classic nose job comes to mind, maybe, even a breast augmentation on the sly. But, did you know that 40% of all medical tourism is actually dental in nature? At first, it seems odd to fly around the world for a filling but tooth travel is so much more than just a quick trip to the corner dentist. In fact, many state-of-the-art dental procedures are not covered under insurance because it is not deemed necessary or it exceeds the maximum annual coverage for that policy. In fact, only 50% of Americans even have a dental insurance policy. One of the overriding problems is that dental insurance is set up more to cover preventative issues, like cleanings and x-rays, not repair or cosmetic issues.
It is not just in the States. Europeans all have the same concerns about the health of their teeth and the cost of dental care. Unlike Americans, who often just go without, the Europeans go to Hungary. That’s right. The former Soviet-bloc country has a reputation for being the place to go when you need dental work. They do some of the best work in the world and use the latest technology. In fact, there are many popular dental procedures to have done in Hungary and other overseas locations including:
1. Teeth Whitening: Anyone can stick a tray full of goo in their mouths, but laser teeth whitening is a highly complex and permanent cosmetic dental procedure. A technician applies a gel to the teeth and then uses a laser to penetrate the tooth’s surface and break up both discoloration and stains.
2. Veneers: This is another cosmetic dental procedure that is not covered by insurance. The dentist permanently affixes a thin veneer to each tooth in order to fix its coloration, appearance or shape. This is also a permanent process that results in expensive but gorgeous teeth.
3. Implants: The newest solutions to dentures, implants are just what they sound like, an artificial tooth base is permanently inserted into the mouth and a new tooth is attached to it. Professional hockey players choose this option for their many lost teeth. It is not covered by insurance but is the wave of the future in cosmetic dentistry.
4. Family dentals trips: Scheduling several different family members for dental cleanings, extractions and a filling or two can mean several days off work and hours on end in a dental chair or, worse, a chair in the waiting room. As bizarre as it may sound, many families are choosing vacations to exotic locales known for their dentists, like Costa Rica. Each family member takes their turn in the dentist chair for cleanings, dental procedures or even cosmetic dentistry and then returns to the beach. No whining, crying or waiting and, for the same out-of-pocket cost, why not?