Everything You Need to Know About Dental Tourism
Why Travel for Dental Tourism?
What is Dental Tourism?
With the rising costs of dental care in the US, more and more people are considering Dental Tourism … and why wouldn’t they?
With rates between 50-70% less for the same treatment, it really is possible to improve your smile and enjoy a nice vacation at the same time, even if you’re on a budget. In many cases, you will still spend less money than you would for treatment alone in the United States.
While it may not seem worth it to travel for your everyday dental needs (like checkups and cleanings) when it comes to big jobs like a set of veneers, some dental implants, or a full mouth restoration, the cost can add up, and savings like these can really help!
Here’s a quick example of what we mean. One implant (we’re talking about the artificial root, the abutment which joins the artificial root to the crown, and the crown which replaces the actual tooth) starts at around $4,500 per implant in the US. In Costa Rica, the same procedure will start at around $1,300.
It sounds too good to be true, so many people can be wary here, but there are modern, professional dental offices all around the world. The main difference is that the cost of overhead and labor in the United States is much higher and that forces American dentists to charge you more for their services
Luckily, some forward-thinking dentists, like Dr. Alberto Meza, realized that many people living in North America wouldn’t be able to afford proper dental care, and became pioneers in the field of dental tourism… offering international patients an alternative to often sky high local dental costs.
Now, more than 20 years later, dental tourism has become a thriving industry, with options to suit every need. While Dental tourism is still considered a relatively new concept, it is a trend that will continue to grow in the future for as long as the prices in North America remain out of reach to so many people.
Sadly, even with growing knowledge about the industry, many people still make the assumption that dental care in places like Mexico or Costa Rica costs less because the quality of care isn’t as high. They may think of traveling for dental work as a means of compromising cost for quality, and if you choose unwisely, that could be the case.
Not all dentists or dental offices provide the same quality of care, and that is true regardless of what country you are in, just as not all chefs provide 5-star dining. In this article, we will look at how dental tourism works, and when it can be a viable option for you.
Traveling for Dental Care
The most common reason people consider traveling for their dental care is cost. Even with a standard medical plan, the cost involved in major dental work can be prohibitive, leading people to neglect problems such as broken or missing teeth, which in turn leads to bigger issues such as bone loss and infections.
It’s understandable that in an uncertain economy, dental work such as implants can be seen as a luxury you just can’t afford. That’s where dental tourism comes in. In the case of countries like Costa Rica, many of the costs involved in providing dental care are significantly lower, even while they provide the same (or better) level of care. This allows dental offices in Costa Rica to pass those savings on to their customers. Savings of between 50-70%!
Below you will see a graph that shows the average expenditure per year (USA) from 1996-2016. Notice the steep increase in those costs.
But Savings Aren’t the Only Reason!
As I’ve mentioned, saving money is the most common reason to choose dental tourism as a means of restoring your smile to its former beauty and functionality. However, there are other benefits to becoming a dental tourist.
Namely, the chance to recuperate amidst the tropical beauty, and warm climate that can be found in places like Costa Rica or Mexico. Many choose to combine healthcare and pleasure by escaping the harsh conditions of winter for their treatment, and who can blame them? Especially if your dream destination offers the treatment you need.
Depending on the type of treatment you need, you can enjoy all the same activities and adventures that millions of people come to see every year and still return home with a tan and a brand-new smile to wow your friends. Talk about a win-win!
How Does it Work?
So, the next common question people ask is “How does it work?” It can actually be a fairly straightforward process, as long as your passport is up-to-date and you have a little vacation time coming to you.
The first step is to do a little research. In many cases, your smile is the first thing people will notice about you, so you want to make sure it’s in good hands. Depending on the type of dental restoration you need, you will want to find a dental clinic with staff that is experienced in dental surgery (for dental implants) and Cosmetic Dentistry (for veneers and crowns).
Look for clinics with staff that are accredited by associations like the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Read their testimonials, and speak to their staff. It’s important to take the time to build a level of trust and choose a clinic that you feel comfortable with.
A professional, well-run clinic will ask you to provide dental records so that they can better assess your needs. They should be willing to do a consultation over the phone, answer questions, and offer multiple treatment options. They should also be happy to discuss the cost of your treatment openly and transparently so that you aren’t surprised by extra fees later.
You will also want to ensure that the clinic you choose employs modern equipment, and a pleasant, sterile environment. In many cases, you can get a sense of this by visiting their website and looking at photos of the facilities.
Once you have found a clinic that you feel comfortable with, and they have discussed your options with you, plans can be made with regard to how long the process will take, and when you will need to book your trip.
Depending on the clinic that you choose, details like flight arrangements, hotel accommodations, and transportation may be your responsibility, but some providers handle this for you. We think that’s a big plus, so it’s worth investigating as you choose your provider and destination.
At the end of the article, we will break down Meza Dental’s process step-by-step, so you know exactly what happens when you sign up for some dental work with us.
Where to Travel for Dental Restoration?
As the dental tourism industry grows, so does the list of potential destinations. For the most part, these destinations fall into three main areas of the globe: Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America. In each case, the price difference is significant enough to be beneficial to many people. The main difference, when it comes to deciding where to go, is distance.
In general, people in Ireland and the UK tend to head to Turkey, Poland, Hungary, or the Czech Republic for their dentistry. People in Asia tend to go to Bali, Malaysia, or the Philippines, and people in North America generally visit Costa Rica, Mexico, or Colombia. Of course, if Bali has always been your dream vacation, and you don’t mind spending two days on a plane, that might be the perfect choice for you!
For now, we’re going to concentrate on Latin American destinations, because of their proximity, and share a bit about each so you can make an informed choice.
Costa Rica is famous worldwide for its advanced medical care, socialized education, and healthcare systems. It is also home to 12 of the top 30 medical device manufacturers, providing its hospitals and clinics with the newest state-of-the-art equipment. When you consider that the country also boasts one of the most well-educated labor forces in Latin America, it’s easy to see how this quiet country has leaped to the forefront of the medical and dental tourism industries.
Costa Rica has something for every traveler, from the calm relaxation and Pura Vida lifestyle (a big reason it’s one of only 5 Blue Zones worldwide) to the pure adrenaline rush of a budding adventure tourism industry. Costa Rica is a land of contrast and diversity. A land of verdant greens and vibrant blues. The perfect place to soak up some sun and explore while you recuperate.
It might surprise you that the only country in Latin America that manufactures and exports more medical devices than Costa Rica is Mexico! Making the choice to enjoy first-class dental restoration in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the southern hemisphere is easy.
Spend your extra time wandering the markets, eating delicious cuisine from street vendors, or exploring the amazing architecture of nearby Mayan ruins. Mexico’s vibrant culture is sure to please!
Colombia is another country with a low cost of living and labor, which allows them to run with much lower overhead costs. Dental students finish school with much less student debt. All of these things translate to lower prices in dental care when compared to North American dentists. This has created a boom in the dental tourism industry, allowing visitors to enjoy the lush jungle setting and rich culture of Colombia while they recuperate.
Tour the exotic buildings and museums of the city, or head off into the jungle to explore coffee plantations and archaeological sites in search of lost Spanish gold!
A Tempting Prospect
As you can see, there are many reasons to consider traveling for your dental care, not the least of which is that you return home with the confidence that a beautiful smile provides, and the comfort provided by fully restored dental health.
No one should have to live with mouth pain, and good dental health shouldn’t have to take second place because of the high cost of dental care in North America. Especially if you can get top-quality care such as
- full-mouth restoration,
- cosmetic dentistry,
- Implant dentistry (such as veneers),
- Restorative dentistry,
- and all-on-x procedures,
All for less than half the cost of the same treatments in your home country. That is why hundreds of thousands of people from the US travel for their dental care. According to Forbes.com, in 2019 780,000 Americans chose Dental Tourism as a means of getting affordable dental care. You can too!
Top Global Destinations for Dental Tourism
All it takes is a little research to create the perfect dental vacation, and fortunately, you can find a dental tourism destination for you all across the world. This section will expand on the most popular destinations for Americans, so you can compare costs, travel time, and locations for each.
Price Comparison for Dental Tourism Destinations
The main reason that most people consider dental tourism is the difference in prices, so let’s tackle that first. As you can see, regardless of the destination you choose- the savings are significant. So, why not take that trip you’ve always dreamt of, and get a little work done while you’re there?
We’ve created a useful chart showing our Top 5 Destinations, and the relative price for services in each. Keep in mind that these costs are averaged out and that each treatment plan will be unique to the patient.
How Far Will You Travel for A Beautiful Smile?
The next consideration when it comes to choosing the perfect dental vacation is travel time. In general terms, many Americans will choose a destination that’s relatively close because it’s convenient. That’s why the Latin- and Central American dental tourism industries are so strong.
However, if you’ve always wanted to stand on the bridge between Buda and Pest and gaze down the length of the Danube- then a little more travel time might be worth it to you. It’s all a case of personal choice, so in the spirit of adventure, here is a chart comparing flight times and prices from a central hub to each destination.
|San José, Costa Rica||Bogota, Colombia||Budapest, Hungary||Bangkok Thailand|
|FLIGHT TIME||2 hours||3 hours||3 ¾ hours||9 ¼ hours||19 ¾ hours|
|HUB||Miami||Miami||Miami||New York||New York|
|AVERAGE COST OF RETURN FLIGHT||$75-$350||$300-$350||$70-$280||$165-$650||$460-$980|
As with most trips, traveling in the off-season or shoulder season can result in lower flight costs, so you can explore all the best attractions and go home with some truly amazing memories (and a lovely smile).
Our Top 5 Dental Tourism Destinations
Now that you have an idea of the comparative costs and travel times, let’s get down to the fun stuff. The destinations!
In this section, we’re going to explore some of the most popular attractions for each destination, a little bit about why it made our top 5 list, and cover what the tourist seasons are for each.
Distance: 2 hours flight from Miami
High Season: Mid-December- Easter (Semana Santa)
Travel Tip: Travel after Easter to the end of November for savings of 20-50%!
Quality of Care: Dentists in Mexico must complete a rigorous dental certification that begins with a 3-5 year Dental Program to practice. They must then pass an exam given by the Colegio Nacional de Cirujanos Dentistas (CNCD). Look for dentists certified by the Asociacion Dental Mexicana (ADM) or Mexico Dental Association, and you can be sure to receive exceptional quality dental care.
With a rich and vibrant culture, outdoor markets that are chock full of unique handcrafted items, delicious fresh produce, spicy street foods, and some of the most breathtaking Mayan ruins in the world… Mexico is a destination that lands on most bucket lists. As the closest destination (to the states) for dental tourism, Mexico is a favorite for Americans.
So, what makes Mexico so special?
The Weather. The country enjoys a two-season climate, with lush greenery and cooler temperatures during the green season, and endless blue skies the rest of the year. The temperature can range from 50-90 F depending on the season and the elevation, so you can always find a temperature that’s comfortable for you.
The Culture. As with most Latin and Central American countries, Mexico’s native population is an eclectic mix of indigenous tribes (perhaps the most famous of which are the Mayans), and Spanish settlers who arrived after the Spanish conquest (1519-1521). As you can imagine, this gives tourists access to a rich and varied cultural experience that includes everything from taking a trip back in time to an indigenous village, or one of many local museums, like Cancún’s Mayan Museum dedicated to the study of Mayan culture.
The Food. There is just something FUN about Mexican food (even outside of the tequila). Whether you want to sit in a typical Mexican eatery and enjoy tacos to the music of a mariachi band, or you want to try some traditional street food, like elote (which is corn on the cob served on a stick, drizzled with mayo and then coated in spices), Mexican cuisine is always exciting.
The Ruins. When many people think of Mexico as a destination, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic shape of Chichen Itza’s towering pyramid, but that’s just one of the dozens of historical monuments scattered across the country. Even now, 1,600 plus years after it was at its height, we don’t really know the scope of this awe-inspiring civilization. So far archeologists know about 40 cities, each with a total population of between 5,000 and 50,000!
The Adventure. Step into modern Mexico and you will find a country that has embraced the idea of adventure tourism. Mexico has something for everyone, and that makes it a great place for the whole family to visit, even if dad wants to dive with sharks, mom’s dying to try ziplining, and the kids are addicted to water fun parks!
San José, Costa Rica
Distance: 3 hours flight from Miami
High Season: late November to late April
Travel Tip: Book your trip between May and November for a chance to see baby turtles hatching!
Quality of Care: Costa Rica’s status in the world of Dental Tourism comes from the extremely high standards demanded by the Costa Rican Dental Association (CRDA). You can be sure any dental practitioner certified by the CRDA will provide the highest quality care.
Dentists in Costa Rica must complete a 6-year program (at one of 4 dental schools within the country) in order to earn their Doctor of Dental Surgery. If they wish to specialize, that takes another 2-3 years of study.
Costa Rica is famous for its ecotourism and biodiversity, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Eco-tourism may be its main claim to fame, but there is something for everyone in Costa Rica. Known to be the safest and most peaceful of all the Latin- and Central-American countries, it’s the perfect destination for nervous travelers and solo travelers alike. Still, with so many fun things to do… you’re going to want to bring friends!
Perhaps the easiest way to tell you all about what Costa Rica has to offer is to separate it into categories…
Eco-Tourism. You can’t mention Costa Rican tourism without mentioning the words biodiversity and sustainability. That’s because its unique position between North America and South America has created an environment that includes flora and fauna from both! Even though the country only has about 0.03% of the planet’s landmass- it has 6% of the world’s biodiversity. People come from all over the world to explore the amazing variety of microclimates and discover the creatures, both big and small, that live in harmony here.
Adventure. Adventurous travelers around the world head to Costa Rica every year because they can find everything from soaring mountains to fast-flowing rivers to steaming volcanoes and deep blue waters to explore. And you can explore them hanging beneath the fluttering nylon of a parachute, dangling from a line sprung beneath the canopy, repelling down a waterfall, from the deck of a boat, or deep underwater wearing full scuba gear. It’s the perfect place to push your boundaries and set your heart racing with a new adventure.
Surfing. The surfing culture has been a part of life here since the early 70s, which explains the phrase that you will hear constantly… “Pura Vida,” which literally translates to “pure life”. It’s a concept that has been attracting surfers from around the globe for generations, and the plethora of pristine beaches and rolling surf will keep them coming for generations to come. Here is an interesting article about the best surfing spots in Costa Rica.
Farm-to-Table. Another part of the Pura Vida lifestyle is evident in the local markets. In a country as lush and fertile as Costa Rica, the variety of fresh produce and fruit is enough to make foodies swoon. Perhaps that’s why so many amazing chefs call it home. Everywhere you look you will find delicious food created with the freshest ingredients, often grown right on the property where it is being prepared… and if that’s not cool enough, you can actually visit a few farms where you can milk a cow and make your own cheese. You can’t get any fresher than that! Here is an amazing Tour for Foodies that will take you to some of the best spots in San José’s Barrio Escalante.
Indigenous Culture. There are 8 indigenous tribes in Costa Rica, and each has a unique cultural history that has been passed down for generations. Today, most of these indigenous groups share their culture with tourists as a means of supporting the tribes and maintaining the traditions and skills of their ancestors. Guests can learn about their culture and history, try ancient recipes and learn how to make crafts using techniques that have been around for hundreds of years. Click here to learn more!
Distance: 3 ¾ hour flight from Miami
High Season: December- March (also known as the dry season)
Travel Tip: Colombia is a mountainous country. The higher you go, the lower the temperature. Bogota is located on the slopes of the Andes with average temperatures of 50-60 degrees F compared to the 75-85 felt by much of the country.
Quality of Care: Dentists in Colombia must complete 5 years of study in dental school, earn a diploma, and work for the government for 1 year in order to practice dentistry as a profession. With some of the best universities in Latin America, it’s no wonder that 20,000 people head to Colombia annually for dental work and cosmetic surgery.
Colombia is famous for having a massive portion of the biggest jungle in the world. And while it’s true that the mighty Amazon covers 35% of the country’s landmass, there is far more to this hidden gem than you would expect — including a colorful history, a blend of Spanish and indigenous cultures, and some truly amazing biodiversity.
Natural and Ancient History. Only 35 km from the pretty city of Santa Marta lies the Tayrona Natural Park, where history stands still and the landscape is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This 15,000-hectare preserve (12,000 on land and 3,000 marine hectares) holds an amazing array of sights. The traditional woven grass or wood huts of the Tayrona people mingle with archeological sites, and adventure seekers can even head out on a 4-day hike to the fabled Lost City.
Festivals. If you time your visit well, you may be able to take in one of the many annual festivals that bring this country alive. Perhaps the most colorful takes place in April in the city of Bogota. The Ibero-American Theatre Festival is 17 days of music, pageantry, dance, and theatre of course! If aquatic pastimes are more your ‘thing’, then The Festival of the Sea which takes place in late July, might appeal to you. This event which lasts several days includes plenty of music, great food, and sporting events, including the annual Marine and National Games.
Coffee. Every year Colombian coffee growers produce 11.5 million bags of arabica coffee beans. That makes them the third-largest producer in the world! Luckily for coffee lovers, this means lots of coffee tours where you can discover how your favorite morning cup of magic was created… and taste all the yummy strains for yourself. Click here for the Top 11 Coffee tours in Colombia!
GOLD. Since man first discovered the luxurious shine of this precious metal, people have been obsessed. Since 1939, the Banco de la República Gold Museum has been collecting and preserving examples of pre-Hispanic metallurgy and now has one of the most important collections in the world.
The Amazon. It’s true that there is much more to Colombia than the Amazon… but that doesn’t make it any less fascinating! This is a country of extremes, including everything from desert climes to savannahs to mangrove swamps, rainforests, and cloud forests. There is so much to explore that getting out of your comfort zone and into the wild could be the experience of a lifetime.
Distance: 9 ¼ hours from New York
High Season: May- September
Travel Tip: Head to Budapest in August to take part in the annual Festival of Folk Arts where you can enjoy handmade folk art, traditional food, and drink, and artisan workshops.
Quality of Care: Hungarian Dentists must complete a 5-year university course to be licensed and are regulated by the Hungarian Dental Association (HDA), and when 70,000 dental tourists arrive annually, you can be sure this popular destination lives up to its reputation for top-notch dental care.
This location is sure to be on a lot of bucket lists. This is a country of gorgeous architecture, with a rich multicultural history, mouth-water food… and castles! What’s not to like?
Culture. Located in Central Europe and bordered by 7 different countries, it’s easy to see how Hungary became the multicultural center that it is. While Hungarian is the official language, tourists can also expect to hear English, Armenian, Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Greek, Romanian, Romani, Rusyn, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Ukrainian. This rich and varied heritage is evident in the diversity of everything from music to food to entertainment.
Food. Of course, with this many gastronomical influences, Hungary is a foodie’s dream location, and that’s reflected in the many wine tours and gastronomical events available to enjoy. It is said that “Hungarians live to eat, whereas Americans eat to live.” A true gourmet meal here can take several hours and include 7-8 courses!
The Danube. Budapest is the name given to the capital city, but it’s interesting to note that it actually comprises two cities- Buda and Pest (pronounced “pesht”) which are divided by the mighty Danube River. It has always played a significant role in the history of the city, serving as a commercial highway between nations. Today tourists can enjoy many tours along the beautiful Danube to gaze in wonder at the fortresses and castles that line its banks while sipping wine and nibbling more of that delicious food.
Castles. Did we mention that there are castles? Who doesn’t love a good castle? Hungary has more than 100 of them to discover. Some were designed to be fortresses, some are lavish palaces dripping in architectural details and adorned by acres of decorative gardens. You might be tempted to spend your whole trip going from castle to castle (with a few stops for wine and előétel -Hungarian for appetizers- along the way).
Formula 1. One thing that sets Hungary apart from other destinations on our list is its long history with car racing. In fact, people have been coming to see the Hungarian Grand Prix since 1939… and as an interesting historical fact, it was the first Formula 1 race to take place behind the Cold War’s iron curtain. Racing enthusiasts can book their trip for the end of July to claim their spot at the Hungaroring and experience the noise and excitement of cars racing past at speeds of up to 230 mph!
Distance: 19 ¾ hours from New York
High Season: November- April
Travel Tip: Book your trip to coincide with Chinese New Year for a truly spectacular experience.
Quality of Care: To become a dentist in Thailand, dentists must complete a 6-year graduate degree, and must pass the board’s certification exam to be granted a license to practice by the Thailand Dental Council (TDC). It makes you wonder if the country’s nickname “The Land of Smiles” has anything to do with the 1.2 million dental tourists who arrive every year to receive treatment from their many internationally trained dentists. Look for practitioners accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), which is a U.S.-based healthcare initiative.
While the idea of traveling for almost 20 hours (to get to Thailand) can be daunting… it’s sure to be an experience like no other.
The city of Bangkok is one of the largest in the country (over 600 sq miles!). In fact, over time it has grown so large that it now reaches into parts of six surrounding provinces. The city itself has become a sprawling metropolis of narrow streets, through which meanders the Chao Phraya River. It encompasses areas of ancient architecture and temples, modern high rises, sprawling government buildings, and even some agricultural land and forests.
Bangkok is an eclectic and occasionally dizzying mix of traditional culture and modern living where anything goes. This study in contrast has to be seen to be believed.
Taling Chan Floating Market. Vendors plying their wares along the Chao Phraya River is a common site for the people of Thailand. For tourists, however, the ability to buy everything from produce to street food to souvenirs from long, colorfully painted wooden boats is a truly authentic experience. In fact, the floating market is so big that this popular tour lasts 4 hours!
Shopping. For a really interesting juxtaposition, head directly from the bustle and color of a local market to the massive and luxurious Siam Paragon Mall where you can buy yourself a nice Maserati- or the perfect pair of designer shoes… then finish off the day with a visit to the indoor aquarium or the IMAX Theatre.
Spirituality. Thailand is a place of spiritual fusion, where residents practice a mix of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Animism. Spirituality is a part of everyday life here, ensuring that the population lives “in the moment” and with a certain amount of intention. Religion and spirituality are evident in everything from the architecture to the local traditions, giving the country a feeling of mystery that draws travelers from all over the world. Millions flock to the many stunning Buddhist temples each year to spend time in the quiet hush where robed monks worship before golden statues, and huge bronze bells provide a backdrop to a chorus of OHM.
Stunning Architecture. Few sights can match the beauty and majesty of the temples of Bangkok, except perhaps the Grand Palace. This 218,000-square-meter complex has been home to the royal family since 1792. Make sure you have all day to wander the manicured grounds and explore the intricately detailed sculptures, the palace itself, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, (which was carved from a solid block of Jasper in the 15th century and is considered the most important image of Buddha in Thailand).
Elephants. Everyone loves elephants…don’t they? These gentle giants are seen as a symbol of fortune in Thailand, and their image graces stamps, coins, and even the Navy flag. These graceful creatures are now on the endangered list, so organizations like the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (which has 4 locations in Thailand) are dedicated to the care and preservation of the elephants in their care. Those willing to venture 2 hours out of the city can spend the day with the elephants and support an important cause at the same time.
So Which to Choose?
Here at Meza Dental, we’re happy to have locations in two of these top 5 destinations: San José, Costa Rica, and Cancún, Mexico. As they are also some of the most convenient places for North American travelers, our next section will dive a little deeper into Dental Tourism in Cancún and Costa Rica.
Dental Tourism in Costa Rica & Cancún
One of the best things about dental tourism is that it gives you a great excuse to explore some beautiful parts of the world while you recover your smile! In the last section, we touched on the top 5 Destinations for Dental Tourism, and in this section, we’ll dive a little deeper into the two we call home — Costa Rica and Cancún!
The Real Question Is: Why Wouldn't You Choose Costa Rica or Mexico?
With so many countries in the world marketing themselves as dental tourism destinations, why should someone choose Costa Rica or Mexico? Well, we think the answer is easy, partially because we know them so well, and can vouch for why they’re some of the most fascinating places on earth. Let’s break it down a little further though…
High-Quality Dental Standards
Costa Rica is world renowned for its extremely high medical standards and protocols. The country has a long history of being a safe, secure destination for medical tourists of all types… whether that’s for dental health, cosmetic surgery, fertility, or hormone treatments (among others). And Costa Rica’s hospitals are considered among the most modern and advanced in all of Latin America, rivaling those you would find in the U.S. and Canada.
Many doctors in Costa Rica specialize in Medical Tourism. Most of those doctors and their assistants speak English at an advanced conversational level. Moreover, Costa Rica is home to multiple accredited clinics, and many doctors have training, certifications, and experience in the U.S.
Within Mexico, Cancún in particular is exceptionally regarded for its extremely high medical standards and protocols. The region also has a long history of being a safe, secure destination for medical tourists of all types, with care on par with the care you would find in the U.S. and Canada.
San José, Costa Rica, and Cancún, Mexico offer unparalleled value when it comes to the level of service you receive. The cost of medical services in Costa Rica is usually less than half of what you might pay in the U.S. or Canada.
San José, Costa Rica is arguably one of the safest countries in all of Latin America. In fact, the crime rate in Costa Rica is lower than in many major U.S. cities. Costa Rica also enjoys one of the most stable governments in the world. So stable in fact, that it has no need for an army and hasn’t had one since 1948.
Cancún, Mexico is also one of the safest regions in all of Latin America, thanks in part to the Mexican government’s dedication to the safety of this tourist and travel haven. Though other parts of the country have faced some challenges in recent years, Cancún remains a massive tourist destination, and the Mexican government dedicates a lot of time, social services, and investment to keeping it safe, welcoming, and accessible.
Costa Ricans, or “Ticos” are known for being extremely friendly and very well-educated. Costa Rica has a literacy rate of 97.8% and most Ticos speak fluent English.
Cancún has been built around welcoming international travel, so you’ll find that everyone in the city and surrounding region tend to be friendly and experienced in the tourism business. The vast majority of people in Cancún speak fluent English, and you can always find a friendly face.
For over 30 years, Costa Rica has been considered one of the premier ecotourism destinations in the entire world. 25% of the country is made up of national parks and protected areas. In short, it is paradise on earth.
Cancún has been considered one of the premier tropical destinations in the entire world for more than 50 years. It’s a white-sand playground surrounded by crystal-clear tropical waters, with as many excursions, experiences, and amenities as you can dream up.
Our patients choose Costa Rica as a dental destination because it is a relatively short flight away. San José is only a 3-hour flight from Miami International Airport. The average duration of a flight to Costa Rica is 4 to 6 hours. Chances are that it is not too far from your hometown, so planning and packing for the trip is a simple task. For many first-time foreign travelers, it’s important the location they choose for dental services is both nearby and easy to get to, Costa Rica fits the bill on both accounts.
Our patients choose Cancún as a dental destination because it is less than 3 hours (by plane) from dozens of U.S. International Airports including Miami, Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C. That makes it extremely convenient for people with time constraints, or those who are getting extensive treatments that require multiple visits.
A Better Value for All the Right Reasons!
Many people make the false assumption that healthcare in Costa Rica or Mexico is less expensive than in places like Canada or the U.S. because it’s inferior in quality. But really, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many offices will have the same exact brand name materials that dentists use in the U.S.
Here are the two main reasons we are able to offer such excellent value.
- The cost for the same exact brand of dental materials you would find at home is lower in Latin America because our economies are smaller. Manufacturers adjust their costs accordingly.
- Because fixed costs such as rent, taxes, etc. as well as labor costs for skilled help are lower in Costa Rica than in the U.S. or Canada, we are able to pass those savings on to our patients.
But for a lot of people, it still takes a little while before they can feel comfortable traveling internationally for vital healthcare. That’s why we’ve taken some time in our next section to address some of the top misconceptions people often have about dental tourism.
Top Misconceptions About Dental Tourism
As with most topics you find on the internet, the amount of information about Dental Tourism in Costa Rica and/or Cancún is overwhelming and contradictory, making it hard for some people to feel comfortable with the idea.
To help shed some light, the Meza Dental team we’ve built a list exposing the most common misconceptions about medical tourism in Costa Rica and Mexico.
Misconception #1 – Costa Rica/Mexico doesn’t have technology available in other countries.
- That may have been somewhat true 20 years ago. Today, our dentists invest heavily in acquiring the latest and greatest equipment in the dental field
- International Organizations, which accredit many Costa Rican and Mexican dental clinics, require specific standards to be met, including equipment. Most of the devices used are imported from the US or Europe.
Misconception #2 – Dentists in Costa Rica/Mexico are not as qualified as those in Europe or in the US.
- Many US schools might have the latest technology in a few years, but it isn’t available until students are in their later years. Dentists in Costa Rica and Mexico, however, gain experience with the latest equipment from the very early stages of their dental schooling, giving them an advantage in the learning process and overall handling of their equipment.
Misconception #3 – Dentists in Costa Rica and Mexico don’t speak English.
- This is actually a huge misconception as English is mandatory in school and many go on to study or do their residency in the US. The vast majority of dentists in Costa Rica and Mexico are fully bilingual.
Misconception #4 – Dental care in Costa Rica/Mexico is cheap because it’s low quality.
- The main reason these countries have an advantage in cost is that there is a universal health care system, which is used by the majority of the population, thereby lowering the costs of medical services in many fields
- Cost and quality are not always directly proportional. Our dentists are up-to-date with the most current medical procedures, highly accredited, and use only the best technology available. It’s one of the reasons why Costa Rica and Mexico are the two top countries for dental tourism.
Making Sure to Pick the Right Options
We want to add to our points for Misconception #4. Throughout Costa Rica, Mexico, and every other dental tourism destination, there are dental providers that offer tantalizingly low prices that can seem very attractive at first, but often conceal low-quality or outright dangerous practices.
In the next article, we’ll elaborate a little further on the hidden costs of these seemingly ‘low-cost’ options, and how you can avoid them (along with their various complications).
The Hidden Costs of Low-Cost Dental Tourism
Every year, tens of thousands of patients travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, and many other destinations in search of affordable medical treatment. However, this remarkable growth in the medical tourism sector has attracted its fair share of unscrupulous people who will use unethical practices to attract medical tourists.
Costa Rica and Mexico have rightfully gained recognition as top destinations for medical and cosmetic dentistry treatments. It’s possible to fly there, stay at a nice hotel, do some sightseeing, have your dental procedure done by some of the best local dentists, recover in plush comfort and fly back home for way less than what it would cost to have the same procedure done at home.
But within these destinations, there is a range of offerings, which include everything from top-class institutions with the latest technology, techniques, and accreditations down to uncertified, low-quality, and potentially-dangerous options.
So let’s look at some of the pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when choosing dental tourism.
Choose the Right Dental Clinic
Dental tourism has become a widely used strategy for saving money, but not every dental clinic in Costa Rica has the same premium standards or the same equipment available. It’s imperative that you do your research and determine which dental clinic best fits your needs while keeping in mind that you can’t put a price on your peace of mind.
Perhaps the biggest medical risk of receiving treatment in a foreign country is that the treatment standards may not be as high as you’d expect, and that’s why we recommend that you…
Check the Credentials of your Dentist to Support Your Choice
Make sure that the dentist that is treating you can give you the level of certainty you want. Foreign medical facilities may have different credential standards, but in general, there are well-respected national accreditations. Check the qualifications of the health care providers who will be doing your dental procedure and the credentials of the dental clinic.
Consider All Costs Related to Your Decision of Being Treated Abroad
Medical tourism can be a less expensive alternative, but when you’re bargain hunting, low-cost options often come with hidden costs. Make sure that you have a written agreement with the healthcare organization or the group arranging the trip, defining which treatments, supplies, and care are covered by the costs of the trip.
Another important detail is the follow-up care. Some dental clinics pay little or no attention to this step, but it is a crucial time for certain procedures and cosmetic dentistry treatments. And when post-op recovery and follow-up can often make or break the success of a dental procedure, it’s a massive part of the process.
Worth chatting with your prospective team to understand!
Making the Smart Choice
As you can see there are many compelling reasons to use dental tourism, and as long as you do your research, the care you receive will be the same high-quality care that you would expect in North America.
So, now that you’re thinking about dental travel to improve your smile, we hope you consider Meza Dental. We are proud of what we do, and we have been doing it for a long time! Here are just a few reasons to consider Meza Dental to improve your smile.
What Makes Meza Dental Care the Best and Safest Option?
- Meza Dental has two offices available for treatment. One is located in San José, Costa Rica’s capital city. The other is located in Cancún, Mexico. Both offices offer modern equipment and well-trained, personable, English-speaking staff for all of your restorative and cosmetic dentistry needs. In fact, the hardest part of your decision may very well be choosing between two of the most beautiful tropical destinations in the world! Or, if you can’t decide and you are coming for dental implants, you can make one trip to each country!
- Dr. Alberto Meza, our founder, director, and lead dentist in San José has had nearly 5 years of postgraduate training from UCLA; one of the top dental schools in the world. He is also the first accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and one of only three in all of Latin America.
- Dr. Meza is the 5th generation of dentists in his family. In fact, the Meza family name is synonymous with Dentistry in Latin America.
- Our lead dentist in Cancún, Dr. Mauricio Peña, has more than 15 years of experience in the field
- With over 38 years of combined dental experience and a passion for providing personalized treatment that looks and feels amazing, our staff is here to help. They will be happy to answer all of your questions and discuss any concerns that you may have.
- Every treatment that Meza Dental provides is completely customized to your individual needs through one of our talented and experienced patient coordinators, and they will be with you every step of the way.
- You can take a look at our smile gallery to see our results and hear testimonials from satisfied patients.
- At Meza Dental, we’ll make sure that you arrive safely in Costa Rica, greet you at the airport, and provide your transportation back and forth from the airport, hotel, and clinic. Our personalized service extends to your entire stay in Costa Rica or Mexico and covers almost everything you’ll need for your dental treatment and a possible vacation!
- We make sure you arrive home safely and keep open a line of communication with you to make sure your recovery is complete. Dental tourism can be very safe if you find the right doctor in the right country
- Meza Dental Care ranks with some of the most experienced dentists in Latin America with Dr. Meza being accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) in the USA. Our dental clinic even boasts our own laboratory to ensure that all dental prosthetics are manufactured to the highest standards.
- Meza Dental Clinic is also certified by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). The AAAHC certificate of accreditation is a sign that a healthcare organization meets or exceeds US nationally-recognized Standards
- At Meza Dental, great effort is taken to provide world-class service to compete with the best clinics worldwide.
Keep reading to take a look at exactly what your journey with Meza Dental might entail!
8 Steps to Your Perfect Smile
Whether your challenges are small or extensive, our team is dedicated to offering the very best care to anyone who needs it. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live — from the moment you join us at our offices in Cancún and Costa Rica, you’re as close as family. Because 20 years on, we still believe in the guiding principles of Dr. Alberto Meza — that everyone deserves a chance to smile their brightest.
Choosing the right dentist is hard. Balancing proven quality against affordability can seem impossible, and we know that the idea of adding a tropical vacation on top of it all can seem like a fantasy. So keep reading. Because you might find that restoring your smile with Meza Dental is closer to reality than you might think.
Here at Meza Dental, we are professionals when it comes to fixing all your dental needs, large, or small. That’s why our smile makeovers are built to do more than just take away your pain and restore function — because you deserve a smile that looks just as good as it works. After all, we all know how much confidence and comfort a healthy, natural smile brings.
Step 1: Getting to Know You
Chances are, you have already done a little of your own research before you get to this point, but your journey with us begins here. You can call us directly, or you can visit our website and fill out the quick and easy form listed under FREE ESTIMATE. Here we will collect information about your dental history (including scans where possible) that will help us understand your needs.
Either way, our knowledgeable English-speaking staff will be ready and willing to answer all of your questions, listen to your concerns, and explain the types of services that Meza Dental offers.
They will also take the time to discuss which type of communication works best for you so that the process is as convenient as possible.
Step 2: Your Service Consultation
Once we understand what you need, and what you’re hoping to achieve, we’ll reach out to you for an initial consultation call.
Giving you the best possible service involves a thorough understanding of your dental history. You can help us understand your unique needs by providing your dental records, including any scans or x-rays, and by answering any additional questions your doctor might have about past procedures, and what you’re looking for right now.
With this consultation call and any follow-up information you can provide, our team of doctors can begin to understand your needs and expectations, and put together a plan of action.
We offer procedures including
- full-mouth restoration
- cosmetic dentistry
- dental implants
- veneers, and
- all-on-4/ all-on-x implant dentistry, along with other services!
Step 3: Building Your Treatment Plan
Once we’ve worked with you to understand your situation, our team will plan out the best path to your perfect smile, and we’ll contact you with a service plan. This plan will include all of the different possibilities for treatments, custom-tailored to you and your needs, and we can work
with you to determine which ones are best for your situation, and your budget.
During this stage of your consultation, you will begin to understand:
– what form your dental treatment will take
– what, if anything, you need to do before you arrive
– how long your treatment will take
– and available times for the treatment.
This is a chance to consider all of your options so that you can make an informed choice that suits your needs. The full proposal will include a written estimate which shows the most viable options for you, the cost of each treatment plan, and a proposed itinerary for the trip.
Our staff generally needs one month’s notice to make the arrangements, so once you’ve decided on your treatment plan, make sure to inform our team with as much lead time as possible.
Step 4: Booking Your Trip
Now, once you’ve worked with our team to finalize all of the details of your service, scheduling, and flights, we can get to the fun part. We take pride in being one of the only dental offices to assist with this part of the journey.
At Meza Dental, we have two dedicated staff members whose role is to help you enjoy your experience as much as possible. You’ll get to know them — Karina and Hugo — well during this phase, as they help you plan your trip, decide on lodging, pick tours and excursions, and make sure that your time visiting Cancún or Costa Rica is fun, eye-opening, and stress-free.
Step 5: Welcome to the Country!
Before your trip begins, our staff will contact you to confirm all of your information and will be in contact throughout your journey to ensure that one of our drivers will be at the airport to meet your flight.
Once you arrive in the country and are settled into your hotel, the real fun begins! Whether you have chosen our office in Mexico or in Costa Rica, Karina and Hugo can make all the arrangements, to ensure that your visit is an experience to remember. All you have to do is show up and we take care of the rest.
Step 6: Service (Dental)
Now onto the reason you planned this trip! We’ll provide transport to and from your hotel to our local office, where you can relax, meet the team behind your dental treatment(s), and review the procedures ahead of you. Once you and your team are ready, we’ll get started.
This is where the magic happens, and it’s why for over 20 years Meza Dental has been the preferred dental service in Latin America. Our expert dental team will give you the best possible treatment, and years of experience using proven, cutting-edge techniques, equipment, and technologies to provide you with a beautiful, natural-looking smile that lasts!
Our complimentary shuttle service extends to all hotels within San José city limits for our Costa Rica office and within city limits or the hotel zone for our Cancún, Mexico office. If you choose to stay outside of these regions, we can help you arrange transfers to and from your hotel for a small additional fee.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Trip
Depending on the type of treatment you have chosen, you will likely have scheduled appointments at the beginning of your stay, and again at the end of your stay. But during the interim, and during your recuperation period, you will have all the freedom you need to discover the beauty and adventure that awaits at either of our beautiful offices in Cancún or Costa Rica.
And throughout your stay, our staff is at your disposal if you have any questions. Whether you
need a recommendation for the best fish tacos, help booking the most popular tours for you and your family, or local tips on the can’t-miss experiences, they’re just a phone call away.
Step 8: Farewell
While we hate to see you go, it’s always exciting to reach the end of your treatment, and get a glimpse of your beautiful new smile! Just like when you came in, our transport team will help you get to the airport with plenty of time to rest, relax, and head home.
Before you leave, our team will provide you with all of the information that you need to care for your new smile. We recommend that you visit your local dentist for post-treatment, but we are happy to answer any follow-up questions you may have.
In the case of two-part treatments, we will also provide you with all you need to know about interim care for your temporary smile, and a written estimate as well as a tentative schedule of care for your final visit — but if you have any questions between your arrival home and your
return to Meza, feel free to reach out to us!
Then, when the time comes for your follow-up appointment, you get to start from Step 4: Travel
Is Dental Tourism for You?
Let’s face it, few people look forward to visiting the dentist, regardless of how important it is to our overall health and well-being. But dental tourism has given you a new and exciting way to deal with your dental and oral care. Why not cross that dream trip off your bucket list, save money, and return home with a brand-new and healthy smile? It’s easier than you might think!
To learn more, or to book your free consultation and get your personalized estimate, just click this link and our friendly staff will guide you through the process step-by-step!
How far would you be willing to travel to see a dentist? Across the city? Maybe even interstate? Would you fly to another country? It
Dr. Alberto Meza D.D.S., founder and Director of the famed Meza Dental Clinic, and a pioneer in the Dental Tourism industry has successfully completed the