Dental benefits

Dental trend spotlight: Dental tourism

As the cost of health care continues to rise, thousands of Americans are traveling abroad to find a less expensive way to take care of their dental needs. Could you be one of them?

In 2017, more than 6 million people from around the world — including 800,000 Americans — crossed a border to get dental work done, according to Patients Beyond Borders. Some dental clinics abroad promote savings of up to 80 percent on root canals, dental implants, crowns and more.

People living close to an international border form the majority of those traveling for their dental needs. Residents of Arizona, California and Texas are crossing the border into Mexico for dental work, while those from the East Coast are traveling south to Costa Rica. Other popular dental destinations include Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Those considering traveling abroad for dental care should research the safety and quality of an overseas dentist before planning such a trip — including seeking reviews from previous patients. While U.S. dentists participating in a Delta Dental network go through a stringent credentialing process that ensures quality care, some overseas clinics are less reputable. In addition, dental tourism isn’t for everyone. Such travel may not be best if you are prone to asthma attacks or if you are more susceptible to infection because of heart disease, kidney failure or a transplant.

Before planning a trip, check your dental coverage to see if services outside of the United States are covered and what documentation is needed. If something goes wrong after your dental procedure, you may have to either schedule a follow-up visit with your local dentist or plan another trip to fix the problem. Some U.S. dentists will not provide follow-up care on dental work done abroad, due to liability risks.

Our verdict: Keep your regular dentist informed of any dental work you plan to do, at home or abroad. If you choose to travel overseas for dental work, research the safety and quality of that dentist thoroughly.