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February 5, 2014, 11:35 am
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The Pleasures and Perils of Global Dental Care

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by Paul McTaggart

Utilizing a global dentist is as good, if not better than, visiting a dentist down the street in the U.S. When you step into a dentist office in Mexico, Costa Rica or Thailand you will be pleasantly surprised at what you will find: English speaking dental staff, modern equipment and high quality materials and service.

What happens in a world when the cost of labor, rent, insurance and materials is up to 70 percent less than the average dental practice in the U.S.? Simple. Dental prices go down and quality goes up over the long haul, benefiting anyone who wants to visit a dentist!

Are there bad dentists globally? Absolutely. Just as there are bad dentists in Chicago, Seattle or Miami, there are bad dentists in Cancun, Tijuana and Bangkok. It is up to the legal system and dental regulatory bodies to ensure that dental training, oversight and disciplinary boards are in place to ensure poor dental practices are identified quickly and removed.

The sad reality is that dental care in the U.S. is becoming out of reach for many middle class individuals that are lucky enough to be insured by their job. For lower income Americans, two options are offered: 1. Go without dental care 2. Delay their visit to the dentist. The globalization of dental care provides Americans with the option, once again, to get quality dental care at affordable prices.

The globalization of dental care represents the second wave of globalization that has helped middle class America. The first globalization wave -foreign manufactured goods: cars, electronics, clothes, etc. – allowed Americans to feel wealthier, even though their income has not improved since the 1980’s. With this second wave of globalization -the globalization of services-Americans will now be able to gain back control of the spiraling cost of healthcare, dental care specifically.

The difference with the second wave of globalization is that Americans will need travel to take advantage of the benefits vs. visiting their local Wal-Mart or Toyota dealership. At Dental Departures we see Americans already traveling in large numbers to Mexico and Costa Rica to save up to 70 percent on dental care costs.

Americans are not traveling in large numbers to places such as India, Hungary, Poland or even Thailand for that matter. Americans are following the exact same travel patterns as they use for their leisure/business travel to take advantage of affordable, high quality dental care. Why spend $1,500 USD on a plane ticket and fly for 24+ hours to Bangkok, Thailand when you can take a $500 USD, five-hour Southwest flight to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, or fill-up a tank of gas to visit a border town such as Los Algodones, Mexico?

I see a hub-and-spoke type pattern with global dental care that mirrors leisure travel. Americans will typically visit Mexico or Costa Rica, Australians will visit the Philippines or Thailand, and Germans tend to visit Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic.

The globalization of dental care represents a beneficial alternative for middle-class Americans to get the smile they deserve. Like all industries that have gone through the pleasure and perils of globalization, American consumers will be the ultimate winners with improved dental quality and more affordable prices.

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