As the licensed dentist in the United States, I often hear patients talking about how expensive the dental care is in the United States and that they would go to their own countries for dental care.
Hidden Cost #1: Cost to redo inadequate dental work
I believe in the United States, we have the highest standard of dental care in the world. Each of the licensed dentist has to go through extensive education and training and have to pass numerous tests and licensing exam and has to have great credentials in order to be granted the licence to lawfully become a dentist to treat people. I myself have high expectation when it comes to my personal medical/dental care. I personally wouldn’t want less qualified person to work on my teeth.
I know in some foreign countries, the qualification of becoming a dentist is less stringent than in the United States. Also, their standard of care is not clearly spelled out as in the United States. In addition, there is no dedicated governmental agency to oversee the dentists in some of those foreign countries. So the quality of the dental care is not uniform and hardly a guarantee.
Of course, I know there are some great dentists in those foreign countries and I can see their work can be great. But more frequently I see patients with inadequate dental care received from the dentist in their home countries and the dental work needs to be repaired or completely redone. Teeth are valuable and cost is not only the cost of repairing the existing dental work but also the cost of sacrificing your tooth to additional dental problems and the risk of losing your teeth.
Hidden Cost #2: The Cost of Going to the Foreign countries
Many times people think the dental work at foreign country is cheaper. They forgot that this is due to the exchange rate between the US dollars and the foreign currency.
In order to get to the dentist at the foreign country, one has to spend a large sum to either buy a round trip of air ticket or driving for more than 6 hours round trip with many tanks of gas. Round trip ticket to Asia can be at least two thousand dollars. Driving for 6 hours can cost at least 100 dollars of gas, plus stopping in the mid-trip for food, plus missing one work day of pay.
Even if you just go back to your foreign country for leisure and you go to see dentist as part of the trip, it would still cost you. For example, if your trip is 10 days and you spend two days going to see your dentist for some major work, then the cost of going to the dentist there would be at least 20% of the total cost of your trip. The total cost of your trip might include the air fare, the hotel costs, the food, and the local transportation, etc, and the dental visit costs at least 20% of the total cost of your trip.
Hidden Cost #3: You will have to take additional days off from your work. This could mean missed paid wages.
Hiddne Cost #4: You get less than what you paid for. In the United States, dentist would usually warrant their work for a reasonable amount of time and for reasonable cause. However, any work done in the foreign country is nearly impossible to be warranted. A patient can not go back to their dentist in foreign country for any followup adjustments.
Hidden Cost #5: You don’t know what materials were being used in the foreign country. Foreign country might not have FDA (like in the United States) to oversee the safety and efficacy of the dental materials. The safety and efficacy of the materials used by the dentist in foreign country is largely unknown. And many times, dental materials sold in the United States cannot be sold in the foreign countries.
Hidden Cost #6: Health Hazard Cost. Hepatitis B is common in Asian countries. If the instruments were not sterilized appropriately, there is a chance of getting transmittable diseases.
Countries where Hepatitis B is common
Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS
Practicing Dentist Serving Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Mesa, and Gilbert Arizona