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Friday, August 29, 2014

INTERNATIONAL DENTAL TOURISM REPORT 2014


Trends in the Dental Tourism Market
From the International Medical Tourism Journal

Summary: A study about the growth in the dental tourism market, dental tourism prices, the increase in both demand and supply and how providers will need to differentiate their offering to remain competitive.


Dental tourism has become a booming industry, where every dentist fights for his reputation and wants to be among the first options for the travelling patient.

But how easy is it and what does it take to be a competitive player in such an unpredictable industry? With increasing awareness of the potential of the dental tourism, more and more dental clinics are trying to get into the business of attracting foreign patients.
But unfortunately most are relying on the same message…. “We are the best dentists, we provide the best dental services, in the most beautiful location, and offer dental services at X% less compared to country Y prices for the same services.”

Patient choice in dental tourism

…How can the patient choose among the sea of dentists?

…What are the criteria used in finding the best dentist?

…How far will a patient be willing to travel for a dental crown or an implant?


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A 2012 report to the Congress ‘Dental Crisis in America” from Senator Bernie Sanders shows that nearly 130 million people in the US do not have dental insurance. In the UK, the National Health Service covers only part of the dental care costs.

In Australia even for people with insurance, dental work can get quite expensive, especially when it comes to dental implants, crowns and cosmetic dentistry, which are generally not covered by insurance. In many European countries people do not use dental insurance, but pay full price for the dental procedures and prices can be really high.

What are the key factors when choosing a dentist and what are the main trends of this industry?

Price in dental tourism

Dental tourism brings a perception to consumers seeking dental care of significant savings if they choose to go abroad for dental work. Based on claims made by various clinics these could range from 50-75% savings.

For example, a dental implant complete with crown in the US costs around $4,500,  $3,500 in the UK. Prices can go as low as $1,500 in Thailand and the Philippines,  $1,850 in Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia.

Prices for dental veneers can reach $1,800 in the US and $870 in the UK, but drop as low as $300 in Turkey, $250 in Thailand, the Philippines, Colombia and India.

Teeth whitening in the US can cost $700, but only $450 in Turkey, $350 in Mexico, $300 in Thailand, the Philippines, Costa Rica and in India.

Patients can pay $2,000 for a dental crown in the US and $1,000 in the UK, but only $400 in Mexico, $350 in Venezuela and Thailand, $300 in Turkey, India and $300 in the Philippines.

People can now get the same skills, same equipment, and same product from the same manufacturer at a much lower cost abroad. This is due to the fact that the product pricing varies by country, while malpractice insurance and related infrastructure costs such as office rents and staff salaries are lower in these emerging dental tourism markets.

Price is the main driving force in the expansion of the industry.  Countries such as Thailand, Mexico, the Philippines, Colombia, India, Turkey and countries in Eastern Europe compete exclusively on price.

Competition in dental tourism

Dental tourism has become an extremely crowded marketplace. The tiny border town of Los Algodones Mexico alone has more than 300 dentists, all offering affordable dental care and Bangkok, Thailand, has an extensive network of clinics with attractive costs.  Manila with its  American English speaking board certified dentists is fast rising in the dental tourism marketplace. Cabo San Lucas Mexico is the most popular Mexico dental vacation destination.  Eastern Europe and the Middle-East? Best avoid areas close to conflict. -ed

There are many locations where people can get discounted dental care compared with prices in their home countries. More dentists continue to join dental tourism with slight twists in their products and procedures but with the same underlying offering.

One driving force in deciding where people go is how far a dental patient is prepared to travel for dental treatment and the cost of travel offset against the treatment savings. 

Predictions for dental tourism in 2014 

In 2014 and beyond, dental tourism demand will continue to expand as well as the number of dentists offering the services.

Transparency

 This is a growing concern. There are instances when what is being marketed versus what is being delivered varies significantly. For example, dentists will advertise that they use top American brand dental implants, but while performing the procedure, they will use lower quality knock-off implants with no reliability. They will charge the patient for a higher-grade implant. The lack of price and procedure transparency continues to grow and the consumer must do proper research before arranging a treatment.

Commoditization

 Dental tourism is moving towards a commodity-type market, where there are many suppliers and the demand for those services is common. Procedures, skills, materials and techniques are increasingly similar in whatever country people go to.

The differentiating factors among providers, such as costs and quality, are blurred among so many dental service providers.

Author - Ian Youngman for the International Medical Tourism Journal


Phoenix Editor – The author's comments regarding transparency and switching unbranded implants from branded units are well taken and a big problem with Mexican border town general dentists. This is especially a problem in developing nations where consumer protection laws are lax.
The Board Certified Dentist Associations in Mexico and Asia try to educate the public about the benefits of choosing a certified dentist when abroad vs. a general dentist for their advanced dental procedures.  The board certified dentist associations offer free dental price estimates, and referrals.

Contacts
 Board Certified Mexico Dentist Org - Free Consultations, Estimates, Referrals -  
Languages: Spanish/American English
Board Certified Asia Dental Association - Free Consultations, Estimates, Referrals -  
Languages: American English, Tagalog, Thai, Mandarin
Royal Hong Kong Dental Association - Referrals only -
Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, English

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