Dental Tourism, a subset of medical tourism which involves people traveling overseas for the purpose of obtaining dental treatment, has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, mostly driven by cost and insurance considerations.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans, 46% of the US population does not have dental insurance. Making things worse, those who have dental plans often find them to be inadequate, with high premiums, low annual caps and procedures which are simply not covered. This means there’s a large percentage of the population looking for better, more affordable options for their dental work.
Located in Central America, Costa Rica has long been a top tourist destination because of its beaches, rainforests, mountains, volcanoes, biodiversity and wildlife; but in recent years it has also become one of the premier medical tourism destinations in the world. According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, about 14% of all visitors travel to the country to receive medical care, especially dental work and plastic surgery.
Procedures such as implants, veneers, crowns and bridges can be significantly cheaper in Costa Rica than in the US, with the savings from the procedures more than offsetting travel expenses. More importantly, the quality of the dental work is comparable to that in the US, with Costa Rica having highly-qualified and skilled dentists and top-notch facilities.
Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth. A small, sturdy, titanium post is inserted into the bone structure of the missing tooth to act as the root structure. The post and the bone are fused together through a process called osseointegration. After the bone has grown around the implanted post, it will be able to hold a crown, bridge or over-denture just like natural teeth roots hold a natural denture in place. Dental Implants are very durable, and if properly taken care of they can last a lifetime. They require the same maintenance as natural teeth; this includes brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups.
Implants not only improve a person’s smile and appearance, boosting their self-confidence; they also make it easier to eat and in some cases improve speech and make it possible to recover lip consistency.
According to costhelper.com, the costs for basic implants in the United States can range between US$1,250 to US$3,000 per implant, and can increase to 15 or even 30 thousand dollars depending on the complexity of the procedure. For the half of the country that does not have dental insurance, and even for those who do, these prices can be prohibitive. We say this because in most cases, dental implants are not covered by insurance plans, as they are considered cosmetic procedures.
In Costa Rica dental implants can cost a third or a fourth of what they would in the US, which is indicative of the savings you will find pretty much across the board on all dental procedures. And given the growing number of “dental tourists” in recent years, clinics have become very aware of the needs of the traveling patient, designing dental plans that minimize the patient’s stay so they can return to their regular activities as soon as possible.
So if you’re in need of some dental work but think you simply can’t afford it, take some time, do your homework and look into taking a short trip down to Costa Rica… you may soon be smiling that you did.