CANAM Smile Makeover

WHY DENTAL TOURISM IS A GROWING TREND – AND NOT JUST FOR THE RICH

As winter wages its annual war on Canadians, many beleaguered residents book flights to flee the snow and take refuge in sunny destinations as tourists. But more and more, Canadians book flights not just to escape the snow but to get accessible and affordable health care as medical tourists (learn more about that here).
From long, ever-growing waitlists to expensive out-of-pocket procedures not covered by provincial healthcare plans to cost-prohibitive dental care, Canadians are looking for accessible, affordable, and high-quality alternatives to Canada’s healthcare system.
Every year, more than 14 million individuals travel to other nations for medical treatment, according to the Medical Tourism Association. Globally, in 2023, the medical tourism industry hit 129 billion USD, as cited here by Precedence Research — by 2030, it’s projected to reach 346.1 billion USD.
One of the most popular types of medical tourism is dental tourism. So much so that it has become its own industry. Dental tourists are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22% from 2023 to 2030, reports Grandview Research.
With an increasing prevalence of dental abnormalities driven by factors such as stress-related bruxism coupled with a demand for aesthetic dentistry, Canadians are boarding planes to save money on saving their smiles. Research by Patients Beyond Borders indicates Mexico is especially popular with Canadians.
As consumer interest in dental tourism grows, so too does word-of-mouth — and competition. Dental clinics abroad compete for Canadians’ (and Americans’) undivided attention by offering dental tourism packages with smile makeovers filled with extra smiles from vacations in paradise.
Often, the vacation is simply a perk. People who otherwise wouldn’t even travel for the vacation are travelling out of necessity to fix their teeth.
It’s a misconception that medical tourists are rich people who galavant to other countries to relax on the beach and buy care that lower-income people can’t afford.
The reality is there are two types of medical tourists: those who seek more affordable and accessible treatments, and those who seek superior or unavailable treatment to avoid wait times.
Dentistry is financially prohibitive for a growing number of Canadians and Americans. Meanwhile, dental health is on the decline as many abandon the health of their mouth so they can afford to put food on the table instead.
While these individuals couldn’t afford the higher prices for dental services in Canada and the United States, they choose to go to Mexico, fix their teeth, and relish a much-needed vacation – all for a fraction of the cost of the dental service alone at home. Many dental tourists can travel with a companion – and still have money left over compared to what it would have cost to fix their teeth at their local dentist.
READ MORE: HOW STRESS CAN AFFECT YOUR TEETH – AND WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF IT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE <link entire line to that article, one of the 5 provided>
Media and academic studies (like this one) suggest that Canadians travel to places such as Mexico for dental care when they face barriers to access, seek care at a lower cost, or both. There is growing concern about the rising costs of dental care in Canada potentially limiting the amount of care covered by insurance and exacerbating barriers to access for under- or uninsured Canadians.
Financial barriers are particularly challenging for uninsured, underinsured, and low-income Canadians – this includes those who use limited, publicly funded dental services and those who do not qualify for public insurance or employment-based insurance.
So, Canadians who cannot afford to travel to Mexico for a vacation also cannot afford to neglect the health of their teeth, which is why they look to have their root canals, crowns, smile makeovers, and dental surgeries as dental tourists.
When you are sick or in pain, it shapes every part of your life. It impacts your life and your life expectancy. Sure, dental tourism comes at a cost. But it can still be less costly than dentistry at home. And not taking care of your teeth can come at the highest cost.
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