As Americans search for cheaper ways to get the dental work they need, so-called "dental vacations" have grown in popularity. Dental implants, in particular, are one of the most sought-after dental procedures abroad because of their expense and the fact that dental insurance rarely covers the full costs involved. Before you book a dental implant vacation for yourself, here's what you should know.
Why Dental Implants Are Cheaper in Other Countries
First, let's be clear: Other countries have many qualified dentists and oral surgeons. Good dentistry is not exclusive to the United States! There are success stories online from Americans who choose to have dental implants abroad and are glad they did. That said, the risks are high.
The key reason for the reduced cost of dental implants in other countries is the lower overhead involved in doing business there. Office space is less expensive to rent. Dental education is either free or low-cost. Practices do not need to budget for people to handle insurance claims, nor do they need to pay for malpractice insurance plans.
Another factor contributing to the significant price difference is that dental implants in the United States often require multiple office visits and one or more surgical procedures. In contrast, dental implant surgery is frequently rushed in other countries, which may save you money but compromises your safety and dental health.
The Dangers of Getting Dental Implants Abroad
Why not take a dental implant vacation if dentists in other countries are still well-educated and simply charge less because they don’t have as much overhead to cover? Here are a few things to think about:
- It’s really not a vacation. On websites advertising dental implant vacations, you'll see lovely white sand beaches with dazzling blue water, which all appears very enticing, but you won't be able to enjoy the beach after your procedure! The scenery is a marketing tactic, and it should not influence your decision on where to have dental implant surgery.
- Think about the quality of materials and sanitation. Implants should be made of titanium, ceramic, or another safe material, but in a country that offers cheap dental implants, it’s possible that they could be made with metal that has impurities, such as lead, cadmium, or nickel. Would you drink the water in the country where your implants will be placed? If not, how would you feel if this water was used to irrigate open wounds in your mouth? The possibility of infection is real, and it is something that should be taken into account.
- You’re far from home. It is a surgical procedure to get dental implants. The majority of people prefer to recover from surgery at home, where they are most at ease. It is not a restful experience to have to recover in a hotel room, away from friends and family, and then fly while possibly still in pain from your treatment. For some people, it can be frightening and isolating. Ask yourself: What is the nearest local hospital like in case I have to go there in the event of an emergency? Will I be able to speak with the staff?
- Getting dental implants shouldn’t be rushed. When a dental implant procedure is rushed, the failure rate increases. We take all of the necessary steps to ensure that your implants are a success––detailed imaging at your initial consultation, bone grafts if needed, guided implant placement so we can place the implants precisely where they need to be, and allowing enough time for the implants and jaw bone to grow together to provide a stable base of support for a crown, denture, or bridge.
- Who will maintain the implant for you? After you place the implant and restore the implant tooth abroad, who will be responsible to maintain the health of the implant after you come back to the States. Your dentist may not have all the information about the implant if something goes wrong. He or she won’t be able to get the right part to take care of you.