Author Topic: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?  (Read 5974 times)

iamlindoro

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Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« on: October 15, 2015, 06:29:12 PM »
Hi All,

Any Mustachians sought dental care abroad for cost reasons (as opposed to emergency ones)?  I have some fairly extensive dental work (1-2 implants and at least a root canal, if not a third implant) that I need to do, but despite fairly persistent inconvenience and pain, I can't bring myself to pay the tens of thousands this would likely cost me in the US.  I am considering a couple of trips to Thailand over the next few months to take care of the treatment at ~30% of the cost-- and that's including the cost of flights and hotels!  The experiences I have read about online have been exemplary, but I was curious if anyone else had any anecdotes or personal experiences with this kind of thing.  Thanks!

Pigeon

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2015, 06:37:11 PM »
I don't know about Thailand.  I have a friend who is a dentist.  He said that he has had to do a lot of work to fix horrible work done to people traveling to Mexico to have it done there cheaper, so I would be careful if you decide to do that.

On the other hand, he said the most amazing work he's seen is from Swiss dentists, but it's likely to cost much more than in the US.  Evidently they have extremely high standards for what is acceptable.

If I were to think about that, I'd want to find real, live people who have used the actual dentist you are considering.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2015, 09:22:42 AM by Pigeon »

lhamo

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2015, 06:45:45 PM »
Haven't done it myself but have heard very good things from other expats generally about Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok. 

iamlindoro

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2015, 06:51:33 PM »
Thanks to you both for your input! Lhamo, am looking at both Bumrungrad (heard about it from Inside Man with Morgan Spurlock) and Bangkok Smile.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2015, 09:16:29 AM »
Keep in mind a couple of things:

1.  If you work full time, you will have to drain many vacation days to do dental tourism.
2.  How do you really know the dentist does quality work that lasts?  How practical would it be to sue for malpractice if it happens?
3.  From what I've read, you might have to wait many, many hours in dentist offices (they don't necessarily take and honor appointments).

When I had a bunch of work done, I considered tourism, but decided against it.

There's a dentist in Chicago I have used successfully that does root canal for about $380 (might be worth the airfare...?).  Just google "Dr. Jet".

iamlindoro

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2015, 09:55:25 AM »
Hey, thanks for your thoughts.

1.  If you work full time, you will have to drain many vacation days to do dental tourism.

I am a consultant, so I can arrange to work from anywhere when necessary.  Looks like I would need a week or less to do the first phase of treatment, then another week several months down the road.

2.  How do you really know the dentist does quality work that lasts?  How practical would it be to sue for malpractice if it happens?

While this is certainly a concern I have, I think the risk of it becoming real is exceedingly minimal.  The two clinics I am looking at have been around for years, and there a countless reviews and testimonials (both on their own site and in a ton of other places) that seem to indicate the work is of very high quality.  Most of the dentists appear to be US and Europe trained.

You're right that certain patient protections would be complicated-- My concerns are mostly minimized (though not eliminated entirely-- that's why I'm here!) by the apparently huge number of people who have had very positive experiences.

3.  From what I've read, you might have to wait many, many hours in dentist offices (they don't necessarily take and honor appointments).

I am finding the opposite.  Specific reservations are given, and the hospitals send a driver to pick you up from your hotel and get you to the clinic.

The magnitude of what I'd need to get done is fairly large-- several implants and a root canal/crown, as well as any cavity filling and other more minor treatments necessary.  The bill for this with titanium Astra Tech or Nobel implants in the US would easily approach 20K.  Even taking into account flights at $700 a pop (two visits needed over a few months), the total bill would be about $6500 if I did it in Thailand.

Obviously, I'm leaning towards doing it.  I have thought of and share the same concerns you have/had, but I don't want to make the decision on fears which are likely to be baseless.  If there's a drawback with a statistically high likelihood of happening, that might give me pause.

Bucksandreds

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2015, 01:47:25 PM »
There's no right or wrong answer.  I'm a dentist and I would pay to have it done here because the very real threat of expensive lawsuits force practitioners to take tremendous care here.  If you understand that there is little recourse having the procedure done abroad and won't mope around if you get shoddy work or duped then go for it. I'm sure the odds of that are low but its much higher than the odds of that here. No one but you knows how much you value your money, time, teeth, legal recourse, etc.

MMMaybe

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2015, 05:07:13 AM »
Bumrungrad is well known. I have seen it and the lobby wouldn't be out of place in a 5 star hotel. It is very popular with expats and regional residents.

Many dentists in Asia are trained abroad anyway and the clinics can be extremely well equipped. Often the local American embassy has a list of local recommended medical practitioners so you could double check there.

My current dentist in the Philippines does medical tourism. She also takes care of many expats. I typically choose my dentists here in Asia based on where they were trained, the quality of their practice and reviews from other expats. That has served me well. I also do not go to cheap dentists :)


Captain and Mrs Slow

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2015, 05:19:32 AM »
Dental tourism in Eastern Europe is quite common and not as far of a haul. Having just done implants (3 implants and about 6 teeth it cost me a bit over 13,000€ in Munich (see my journal). It can be done cheaper abroad but the problem I found is it takes quite a few appointments.

For the implants you have the initial consultation, surgery, follow up a week or so later and then an appointment 3-6 months later to put in healing caps.

The teeth you'll need around 4 - 6 appointments depending on how much of a mess your mouth is.

In my case the clinic did a poor job of the implants so the dentist sent them back and it was about 5 appointments over a month or so.

From what I've heard the same work in the US would have cost me 50,000 dollars, enough to justify the hassle


Bucksandreds

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2015, 09:02:41 AM »
Dental tourism in Eastern Europe is quite common and not as far of a haul. Having just done implants (3 implants and about 6 teeth it cost me a bit over 13,000€ in Munich (see my journal). It can be done cheaper abroad but the problem I found is it takes quite a few appointments.

For the implants you have the initial consultation, surgery, follow up a week or so later and then an appointment 3-6 months later to put in healing caps.

The teeth you'll need around 4 - 6 appointments depending on how much of a mess your mouth is.

In my case the clinic did a poor job of the implants so the dentist sent them back and it was about 5 appointments over a month or so.

From what I've heard the same work in the US would have cost me 50,000 dollars, enough to justify the hassle

If all you had done was 3 implants with 6 crowns then the typical rate would be $12,000 to $20,000 in the U.S. Maybe less than $10,000 at a University in the U.S.

Pigeon

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2015, 06:30:21 PM »
Six crowns alone would be over $12,000 where I live in the US, assuming you also need root canals before.

Tom Bri

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2015, 09:15:39 PM »
Sent my daughter to Japan last summer to get 4 wisdom teeth extracted. The cost of the surgery there plus the plane ticket about equaled the cost of just surgery in the US. However, she was staying with relatives, so cost of R&B was a lot less than it would be for you.
I work for an insurance company. We pay out for international dentists as long as the bill comes to us in English and coded with ADA coding, and billed in US$.
My wife also flew to japan a few years ago for a difficult root canal. She got a vacation and dental work done and the cost was similar.

Argyle

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2015, 11:35:09 PM »
I sat next to a man on a plane once who was flying in from California to Indianapolis to have extensive dental work done.  He said Indiana is known for this "dental tourism."  He had already had a couple of procedures done at a place in a suburb of Indianapolis.  I can't remember how much he was going to save, but it was an impressive amount.  After he told me about this, I looked up the Indiana place online, and it looked like quite an outfit.  Sorry I can't remember the name.  Anyway, someplace like that would presumably have American standards — might be worth looking into.

justajane

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2015, 06:29:59 AM »
I sat next to a man on a plane once who was flying in from California to Indianapolis to have extensive dental work done.  He said Indiana is known for this "dental tourism."  He had already had a couple of procedures done at a place in a suburb of Indianapolis.  I can't remember how much he was going to save, but it was an impressive amount.  After he told me about this, I looked up the Indiana place online, and it looked like quite an outfit.  Sorry I can't remember the name.  Anyway, someplace like that would presumably have American standards — might be worth looking into.

This sounds like an ingenious business plan for a domestic dentist.

tonysemail

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2015, 07:41:10 AM »
I was under the impression that dental implants take a long time.
I'm in the process of getting an implant now and my dentist spread out the steps across 6 months.
Is there a trade off in getting an implant without spreading out the steps?

One other strategy I was thinking about is dual insurance coverage.
I googled it a little and it seems like the secondary insurance can be used to cover the co-pay left over from the primary insurance.
has anyone tried dual insurance?

Bucksandreds

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2015, 07:44:36 AM »
Six crowns alone would be over $12,000 where I live in the US, assuming you also need root canals before.

Who said root canals were involved?  Also if not all posterior teeth then 6 crowns with root canals being over $12,000 would be towards the high end. I work in Ohio so not sure about California prices. An implant without the crown should be in the $2,000 to $2,500 range and a crown should be in the $1,000 to $2,000 range depending on if it's attached to an implant or a tooth. Root canals were never mentioned, btw. The U.S. Average price (from what I've seen) for 1 implant, plus attachment and crown is $4,250. That's high for Ohio but the above poster claiming $50,000 for 3 implants and 6 crowns is very far off of US prices.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 07:49:47 AM by Bucksandreds »

Captain and Mrs Slow

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2015, 10:10:44 AM »
Quote
but the above poster claiming $50,000 for 3 implants and 6 crowns is very far off of US prices.

Wife's co-worker said that's what he spent, that's why I mentioned that. 5000 per tooth while expensive isn't that much more expensive than what you'd pay abroad once you took travelling into account

iamlindoro

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2015, 10:33:31 AM »
Quote
but the above poster claiming $50,000 for 3 implants and 6 crowns is very far off of US prices.

Wife's co-worker said that's what he spent, that's why I mentioned that. 5000 per tooth while expensive isn't that much more expensive than what you'd pay abroad once you took travelling into account

Just for the record, here are costs I have been quoted (all for molars):

Root canal, post, core: $136 - 151 USD
Full porcelain crown: $454-515 USD
Implant Stage 1 (Placement, covering): $756-1,212 USD
Implant Stage 2/3 (uncovering, full porcelain crown): $756-1,060 USD
Cost for 1 flight to Bangkok from the west coast: $550-700
Cost for one week in luxury hotel: ~$700

Implants would most likely take two trips (though in ideal conditions there appears to be a system that allows for a single-visit placement).  The all-in implant cost is approximately $1512-2272, and a root canal + crown about $590-666.  So, this would mean:

Travel costs: ~$1100-1400
Hotel costs: ~$1400
Implant 1 cost: $1512-2272
Implant 2 cost: $1512-2272
Root canal and crown cost: $590-666

TOTAL COST: ~$6114-8010 using maximums of all estimates

By my reckoning, that puts me way, way under what the domestic cost would be even if I ended up at the maximum of those estimate. 

kaposzta

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2015, 02:43:29 PM »
You could come to Hungary, the prices are ridiculously low, e.g. my root canal was like 60 bucks. Hotels are cheap, too.

Tom Bri

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2015, 06:20:39 PM »
I was under the impression that dental implants take a long time.

Implants are done by some dentists in a single visit, but usually several.

One other strategy I was thinking about is dual insurance coverage.

Check for waiting periods, many plans you have to wait 12 or even 15 months before major work is covered. many plans don't cover implants at all.

Matumba

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2015, 09:45:28 PM »
I lived in Europe and traveled around the world, also had dental work done in different places including Thailand and Hungary which were mentioned here (though not in Burmugrad hospital).

I have some dental issues since I was injured as a child and over the years have received a number of opinions from dentists about these issues. Still getting them fixed slowly but surely. Although I'm not a dentist, I can compare any new dentists' opinion and the general consensus and use this comparison to figure out whether or not a dentist is probably trying to scam me.

My experiences with dentists in Thailand.

-I stopped by a random clinic for a checkup. The dentist, who was very polite, clearly tried to scam me by "fixing" a number of teeth i didn't have any problems with. I didn't let him do any drilling, of course.

-I went to a dentist who was recommended to me on an expat message board. A good dentist working in a good hospital. She did some fillings and also gave me some advice for future treatment, because it was a short visit. A year or two later, my regular dentist in Europe re-did a complex filling she had done. I don't know if that was because of poor quality or not, but that's what happened.

Hungary

I've never been to Hungary but considered it as a dental tourism destination when I lived in western europe. A hungarian clinic had an office in the city where i lived. They did checkups there and then arranged to treat patients in Hungary. If I remember correctly, they found more issues with my teeth than the general consensus, so I decided no to proceed with treatment.

My advice: if you're going to get dental treatment abroad, make sure it's a reputable clinic or at least a dentist somebody recommends. You wouldn't go to a random clinic where you live (I hope not), so don't do the same overseas where the risk is higher.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 09:47:20 PM by Matumba »

Bucksandreds

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2015, 05:45:21 AM »
Quote
but the above poster claiming $50,000 for 3 implants and 6 crowns is very far off of US prices.

Wife's co-worker said that's what he spent, that's why I mentioned that. 5000 per tooth while expensive isn't that much more expensive than what you'd pay abroad once you took travelling into account

Just for the record, here are costs I have been quoted (all for molars):

Root canal, post, core: $136 - 151 USD
Full porcelain crown: $454-515 USD
Implant Stage 1 (Placement, covering): $756-1,212 USD
Implant Stage 2/3 (uncovering, full porcelain crown): $756-1,060 USD
Cost for 1 flight to Bangkok from the west coast: $550-700
Cost for one week in luxury hotel: ~$700

Implants would most likely take two trips (though in ideal conditions there appears to be a system that allows for a single-visit placement).  The all-in implant cost is approximately $1512-2272, and a root canal + crown about $590-666.  So, this would mean:

Travel costs: ~$1100-1400
Hotel costs: ~$1400
Implant 1 cost: $1512-2272
Implant 2 cost: $1512-2272
Root canal and crown cost: $590-666

TOTAL COST: ~$6114-8010 using maximums of all estimates

By my reckoning, that puts me way, way under what the domestic cost would be even if I ended up at the maximum of those estimate.

you should be able to have that done in the U.S. for $2,000 to $3,000 more when you factor in Thai travel costs.  It looks like you need 1 crown with a root canal and 2 implants with crowns.  Typical prices in the U.S. should be $10,000 - $11,000 range.  If you want to take the vacation and feel comfortable with having it done abroad then it makes sense.

iamlindoro

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2015, 08:38:40 AM »
you should be able to have that done in the U.S. for $2,000 to $3,000 more when you factor in Thai travel costs.  It looks like you need 1 crown with a root canal and 2 implants with crowns.  Typical prices in the U.S. should be $10,000 - $11,000 range.  If you want to take the vacation and feel comfortable with having it done abroad then it makes sense.

Thanks a lot, Bucksandreds.  I haven't decided yet what to do, but it's really helpful to have a dentist weighing in. (I appreciate everyone else's input and experience as well)

Prepube

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2015, 07:57:58 PM »
I have not experienced it myself yet, but a friend went to Costa Rica for dental work.  Might be worth checking out because the airfare  could be cheaper and the prices (according to my friend) are pretty cheap for the dental work.

meandmyfamily

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2015, 08:48:18 PM »
My Dad goes to Nogales, Mexico often for dental work.  He LOVES it and saves a TON.

iamlindoro

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Re: Seeking Dental Treatment Abroad?
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2015, 12:21:13 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback, caution, experiences, and encouragement, everyone.  I took every bit of it to heart.  I've decided to go forward with the treatment in Thailand.  I'm leaving in a couple of weeks for the first round of treatment (have to get it done before Thanksgiving as my fiancé's schedule through the rest of the year means I need to be near home), and I'm optimistic that this is the right choice for me.  If anyone is interested, I'll continue to update here, and I'll be writing on my blog about the experience as well.