Dental tourism is a growing phenomenon in Thailand. The market is driven by customers from the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand who find that prices for dental treatment in Thailand are substantially lower than in their home countries.
Where extensive dental treatment is required, the savings in Thailand can be sufficient to pay for all travel and accommodation costs. Effectively, this means that people can opt for a vacation in Thailand, setting aside some time to receive the required dental treatment. The total outlay may prove less than they would have paid for just the dental treatment at home.
Planning your trip
It is necessary to undertake a good deal of advance planning before taking a dental tourism holiday in Thailand. Depending on the amount of treatment required, you need to ensure that you allow enough time for the Thai dentist to be able to complete the treatment.
It is also advisable to have your initial appointment arranged in advance. This is because many dental practices are booked up several days in advance. If you have to wait several days before being able to see your chosen dentist, there may be insufficient time to complete the procedure.
You should always allow at least 24 hours before your scheduled arrival time and your first dental appointment. This will give you time to partially recover from jet lag and should be enough leeway to compensate for delayed departures or missed connections. Likewise, allow a few days extra in Thailand after the scheduled treatment completion date. These will be useful in the case of unexpected treatment delays or failed procedures.
Selecting a Thai dental practice
You can research dental surgeries in Thailand using the internet, but it is necessary to exercise caution when relying on online recommendations. It is not uncommon for dental practices, just like many other businesses, to exaggerate their business expertise, understate total costs and create false testimonials. A word of mouth recommendation from someone you know or trust is best.
Get quotes for your treatment
Before opting to become a dental tourist in Thailand, you need to be in a position to work out the total cost of your required treatment in both Thailand and your home country. Remember that prices in your home country may differ from one dentist to the next, so it is worth getting quotes from more than one.
Ask for a written quote giving full details of the recommended treatments. Ask the quoting dentists to be specific about the materials that will be used to ensure you are comparing like with like. For example, one dentist might be quoting for a metal filling while another is quoting for a composite filling in the same location. The procedure is the same but the costs will be different.
Once you have obtained one or more quotes in your home country, you can then approach Thai dental practices and ask them to quote for comparable treatments. Remember that currency exchange rates constantly change, so add on 5% to the cost of treatment in Thailand to counteract large fluctuations.
Finally, before committing to Thailand dental treatment, double check that the treatment you require is not covered by personal or employee insurance in your home country.
John Chen is a travel writer currently located in Bangkok, Thailand.