Amy is from southern California and has a gleaming white smile. She is enjoying a break in the Thai resort of Pattaya but she is not just visiting for a holiday in the sun, she is one of a growing number of dental tourists coming to Thailand to have work done on their teeth.
|I have always been frightened of dentists and as a result neglected to care for my teeth,’ she explains, ‘as a result I got myself in a real mess. I was suffering a lot of pain and eventually went to see a dentist in San Diego. He told me I needed a lot of work doing on my teeth. What shocked me the most was that it was going to cost upwards of $20,000.’
With such a huge prospective bill, Amy began to search for alternatives and following advice from a well travelled friend eventually decided to come to Thailand where a Thai dental surgeon was able to complete the work at a fraction of the cost. ‘Even after the flights, accommodation and a two week recovery break were included, I still came out paying significantly less,’ Amy says.
The cost of dental treatments in Thailand is unmatched anywhere in the world for the high standard dental care. A single implant in the US is $3,500. In Thailand it costs $2,000. For other treatments, the price gulf is even bigger; ceramic crowns are 10% of the $5,000 you would pay in America, fillings $20 rather than between $200-500 and tooth whitening $100 as opposed to $1,000. The savings are enormous.
Cost is just one of the reasons why Thailand has become the world’s number one destination for overseas dental tourists. Dentistry standards in Thailand are very high with several years’ full time study being required for certification.
In addition, many dentists complete further advanced study in the United States and Europe. The dental clinics that cater to overseas clientele all speak excellent English and are equipped with the most up to date equipment.
Amy observed that her Pattaya clinic was cleaner, more modern and better equipped than the one she visited back at home. ‘Not only that’, she told us, ‘I could not believe how gentle they were. My original fear of dentists was caused by heavy handed examinations and treatments when I was a child – something I experienced again later on in San Diego.
The difference with my Thai dentist was like another world. I told him I was nervous and he spoke very calmly. During the treatment, that on some days lasted three hours, he blindfolded me and let me listen to my IPod while he went about his work. I hardly felt a thing and couldn’t believe it when it was all over. I will be recommending Thailand to everyone for dental work’.
Amy’s experience is by no means unique and is one of the reasons why Thailand’s dental tourism industry is set to grow and grow.