When you consider the rate at which the costs of medical care and insurance are rising in the West, specifically the United States, it is no wonder that there has also been a surge in a steadily popularizing trend called “medical tourism.” The nation of Thailand, for example, is a nation that has put itself on the map for a being a place one can travel to as a tourist to get good dental work done and at a low price.
Is dental work cheaper in Thailand? Yes, dental procedures in Thailand are some of the lowest in the world. They are half the price of their comparable procedures in the US, sometimes even as low as a third the price.
But, before you pack your bags and head off to Thailand—notably called the “Land of Smiles”—to get some dental work done, read on to find out more about the dental industry in Thailand, and whether getting your teeth done there may be for you.
Cost Comparison: Dental Work in Thailand vs. the US
Of course, if you plan to travel to Thailand to get your teeth done, other things must be taken into consideration besides the base cost of the dental procedure itself. We must also take into consideration the price of airfare and accommodation for that period and compare it to what costs you might bear on average for the same procedure in America.
Factoring in Travel & Lodging Costs
To get a fair estimate of how much it would cost to travel to Thailand and be there for ten days, we looked at the average estimated costs of airfare, accommodations, transport, food and drink given in the breakdown in this list. Based on this information, we found that it is safe to budget around 2500 dollars for a ten-day stay in Thailand.
Then, how long on average will it take you to recover from a dental procedure, and how many days will you get to explore and tour around? Honestly, depending on the procedure, the time varies from two days (for a tooth extraction) up to a few months (for implants). But most of the initial healing will take place within 72 hours. If being a tourist is on your to-do list in Thailand, ten days should give you enough time in most cases to do both things.
What about the cost of missing a few days of work to travel to Thailand to get your dental work? For some workplaces, you may be able to take a paid leave. Also, it could be that you have already planned on taking a vacation somewhere, and you are simply changing your plans and hitting two birds with one stone.
These are factors you will need to include in your calculations on an individual basis before finalizing anything. If these costs added to the cost of your dental appointment are still less than the cost of getting it done locally, then proceed.
Differences in Dental Care
While dental procedures may more or less be the same, there are a few distinct differences in health in dental care worth noting before you decide to pack your bags for Thailand.
Thai dentists offer a wide array of services such as veneers, laser teeth whitening, implants, root canals, and more at prices that are comparatively cheaper than those offered in the US. Comparing the average prices of different dental, orthodontal, and periodontal procedures, the price in Thailand is sometimes half the national average in the United States, and other times, it was a third of our national average.
Despite this, clinics all over the country have invested in ultra-modern equipment and medicines that allow them to provide a service that may not be afforded in other places. This is made possible by the high demand for services: allowing dental clinics to be able to afford this equipment without charging high prices because what they lack in profit per unit they can make up for with sheer mass.
Medical Standards and Malpractices
Thai dentists are regulated by the Thai Dental Council. They are the primary governing body that sets standards for dental professionals in Thailand in terms of their educational requirements, professional development, attitude, and their competency.
Thai dentists are required to study for six years to obtain a DDS degree in one of the nation’s nine dental schools and then must serve three years in the public health sector before they are permitted to enter the private sector. If they do not serve the three years of public service, they are required to pay back some of their fees to the government.
In addition, many dental professionals in Thailand have gotten additional degrees in continuing education in the West. Though there is currently no requirement for continuing education to maintain the license, because of the tough competition for customers that has resulted from the popularity of Thailand’s dental industry, the best dentists show a commitment to staying up to par with the latest technology.
This notwithstanding, it always important to vet your dental provider and find out more about them before proceeding to book an appointment or have a major procedure done. Ensure that they have been government certified and registered; a quality dentist will have no problem offering reassurance and proof of competency before proceeding. You can also test out the service by getting a simple treatment at the offset, such as a tooth whitening, before proceeding to do more serious dental work.
Dental facilities in Thailand are not only focused on helping individuals to get their dental work done. Rather, they offer world-class customer service and patient care that is recognized the world over as the international standard. It is necessary for clinics in Thailand to offer excellent patient care not only in terms of human interaction but in equipment and facilities because of the competitiveness of the industry and the increasing popularity of medical tourism.
Popular Locations to Find a Dentist in Thailand
There are two main locations that most tourists will travel to in Thailand to get their dental work done: the capital of Bangkok and the city of Phuket. While these two are the main centers for medical tourism, there are a few other hotspots that cater to tourists such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai up north and Pattaya in the coastal south.
As the capital of Thailand, you rest assured that there are hundreds of clinics to choose from in this city. But with so many options, how do you make the right choice? First, you must look for and find dentists that specialize in the procedure you need specifically. This is especially important for dental implants.
In addition to finding dentists and vetting them through their websites, do searches for independent reviews on the dentists that you shortlist. It is good to try and find at least 10-20 different reviews on that dentist from independent review sites.
There is fierce competition in Bangkok for patients, and many facilities may have better facilities than what exists in your local area. This notwithstanding, there are also several back-alley operators in the city as well. This makes your research even more important.
Bangkok is also an ideal location to choose because transport within the city is not difficult for a tourist, with the option of catching a taxi or using any of their modern public transport options. It will be easy to get accommodation closer to the clinic where you will get treatment because many clinics have partnerships with nearby hotels to offer their patients special rates on accommodation.
Phuket is also a place with a bountiful number of dentists to choose from. Phuket is an island with a small area of about 210 square miles; the highest concentrations of dentists are in Phuket City and Patong Beach. In addition, the smaller land area translates into less travel time between your accommodation and the dentist’s office no matter where you choose to stay.
If enjoying a vacation on a tropical island is part of your motivation for going to Phuket as opposed to Bangkok, then it is advisable to book your vacation for a little longer. Incorporate the days it will take you to recover from any major dental procedures.
The same process of finding a good dentist in Phuket applies to Bangkok. It is important to vet your dentist and do a lot of thorough research before booking a procedure with any office, especially for one in a foreign nation.
Overall, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration before you decide to travel to a foreign nation to get work on your teeth done. From planning the location to go to, scheduling your time properly and deciding whether it is a trip in your budget, this article has given you a brief breakdown of each factor you’ll need to consider. But go deeper, apply some of the tips mentioned above as you plan your trip to the Land of Smiles, and have a vacation that gives you bang for your buck.