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Dental Tourism


Dental Tourism 
“Medical tourism” refers to patients traveling abroad for the purpose of obtaining non-emergency 
health care.  “Dental tourism” is a subset of “medical tourism,” and is growing in popularity as an 
alternative for patient care.  In discussions on the issue, the Board of Directors of the American 
Dental Association has expressed the view that dental tourism is a symptom of decreased access to 
dental care, the increasing cost shift of health care by employer-sponsored group dental plans to the 
patient, and the “flattening” of the world in terms of the rise of a truly global economy and the ease of 
travel to foreign nations.
 A key concern is the consistency of the quality of care provided in other 
In a report on health care globalization prepared for the American Dental Association, it was noted 
that patients have sought health care outside their native countries for many years, so in this sense, 
“medical tourism” is nothing new.  The report observed, “As the quality of health care improved in 
many areas of the world – a good thing – some patients from the United States are now traveling 
abroad to seek ‘expensive’ health care of acceptable quality at a lower cost.  This ‘medical tourism’ 
by Americans seeking ‘first world medical care at a third world price,’ involves a small number of 
people now, but has the potential to expand.”  Increasingly, the travel agent industry is packaging socalled “dental holidays” that combine elective care with vacation tours of a foreign country. 
Reva Health Network is an online resource and search engine promoting medical tourism.  Reva 
estimates that over 2.5 million people a year, from all over the world, search the Internet for 
information about dental treatment abroad.  Reva receives an estimated 600 inquiries a week on 
dental tourism alone.  Reva-gathered data shows that patients opting for care outside their home 
countries seek the following procedures:  implants (27%), veneers (20%), crowns (16%), teeth 
whitening (11%), bridges (9%), braces (6%), all other treatment (11%).   
The favored destinations for dental tourists are:  Hungary (31%), Mexico (18%), Poland (17%), 
Thailand (9%), Turkey (7%), Spain (5%), other countries (13%). 
Questions for Patients’ Consideration
Patients considering foreign travel to receive dental care should include the following considerations 
in their decision: 
Is your general oral health and condition of teeth sound?  While one may be planning on traveling 
outside the U.S. to acquire an implant or crown restoration, existing decay, broken fillings, and other 
dental problems and in-process dental treatment should be completed before traveling.  A foreign 
dentist might be willing to address conditions other than the one for which the patient is seeking 
treatment, but additional care which may be routinely covered at home by one’s own dental plan may 
not be covered if provided overseas, or won’t be covered as extensively, as they would be at home.   
How does your plan cover “out of network” care? A dental plan may pay for a portion of care 
performed by a foreign dentist, or it may not.  For a dental plan that allows its enrollees to obtain care 
from “out of network providers,” does it include coverage for treatment performed outside the United 
States?  Also, importantly, does your dental plan cover “re-dos” if something goes wrong or a 
procedure performed outside the U.S. needs to be redone? 

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    Category : Uncategorized Posted on September 15, 2011