So-called “dental vacations” have become increasingly popular as people travel outside the United States in order to get cheaper dental work. Dental implants, in particular, are one of the most commonly sought procedures overseas because insurance rarely covers the cost and they must be paid for out-of-pocket. Here’s what you should know before you book a dental implant vacation.
Why Dental Implants Are Cheaper in Other Countries
First, let’s be clear. There are many qualified, competent dentists and oral surgeons in other countries. The United States does not have a monopoly on good dentistry. You’ll find plenty of success stories online from Americans who decided to go abroad for dental implants and are happy they did it.
The primary reason dental implants are cheaper in other countries is because there’s lower overhead involved in operating overseas. Rent for office space is cheaper. Dental education is free or inexpensive. Practices don’t have to budget for personnel to take care of insurance claims, and they don’t need to pay for costly malpractice insurance policies either.
A secondary reason for the dramatic price difference is that here, dental implants require multiple office visits and one or more surgical procedures. The process is often rushed abroad, which may be better for your pocketbook, but it’s not great when it comes to your safety and oral health.
The Dangers of Getting Dental Implants Abroad
So if dentists in other countries are qualified and charge less because they have less overhead to worry about covering, why not go on a dental implant vacation? Here are some things to consider:
- It’s really not a vacation. You’ll see pristine beaches with sparkling blue water on the websites for dental implant vacations and it all looks very appealing, but you’re not going to be enjoying the beach after your surgery. The scenery is a marketing ploy and it shouldn’t factor into your decision about where to get your dental implants.
- Think about the quality of materials and sanitation. Implants should be titanium, but can you trust that they really are what they claim to be? Could they contain contaminants like lead, cadmium, or nickel? Would you drink the water in the country you’re traveling to for your implants? If not, how do you feel about that same water being used to irrigate around open wounds in your mouth? Depending on where your surgery is taking place, the water may contain any combination of e.coli, Campylobacter, norovirus, or even protozoa like Giardia. The risk of infection is real and something that should be seriously considered.
- You’re far from home. Getting dental implants is a surgical procedure. Most people want to recover from surgery at home, where they’re most comfortable. Having to recover in a hotel room, away from friends and family, and having to fly while possibly still in pain from the procedure, is not a pleasant experience. Indeed, it can actually be quite scary and isolating for some patients. If an emergency happens, what is the nearest local hospital like? Will you be able to communicate with the staff there?
- Getting dental implants shouldn’t be rushed. Failure rates for dental implants are higher when the procedure is rushed. Here in the States, we take all of the necessary steps to ensure that your implants will be a success––detailed imaging at your initial consultation, bone grafts if necessary, guided implant placement so we can place the implants precisely where they need to be, and allowing sufficient time for the implants and jaw bone to grow together to provide a stable anchor for replacement teeth.
How to Manage the Cost of Dental Implants––Without Leaving the Country
We started this post mentioning that dental implants are rarely covered by insurance. While this is true, it’s beginning to change. If you have already suffered bone loss in the jaw or your tooth loss is due to an accident, there is a chance that the cost of your implants may be at least partially covered. Our billing staff can check to make sure you’re getting the benefits you’re entitled to.
When your insurance company doesn’t cover implants, we will do everything in our power to make your needed treatment affordable. We offer interest free financing through CareCredit and Wells Fargo and for patients who qualify we have low interest payments that can be made up to 96 months through The Lending Club and Green Sky Financial .
Keep in mind, too, that there are ways to reduce the expense of the dental implants themselves. Mini dental implants, or MDIs, require fewer office visits, so they cost less. Full arch with only four implants and dental-implant supported dentures allow us to replace most or all teeth with a minimal number of actual implants, which is much more affordable than placing individual implants for each missing tooth.