Why Travel for Dental Tourism?

Senior couple chatting on the beach

Dental tourism is a relatively new concept. In many cases, people consider the idea of traveling to have dental work done simply because the cost of getting dental work in the United States is so high. Often, patients can travel, vacation, and get their dental restoration done for significantly less than the cost of treatment in their home country.

Despite the growing trend, however, many people assume 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 dental implants can be seen as a luxury you just can’t afford. That’s where dental tourism comes in. In the case of Costa Rica for example, 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%! 

With savings like that, it’s easy to see why so many people are considering dental tourism as a viable option for extensive treatments like Full Mouth Restorations or All-on-4 Dental Implants.

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?

The ability to explore some truly beautiful destinations while saving money on dental care that you can’t afford at home is very appealing, 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 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 are experienced in dental surgery (for dental implants) and Cosmetic Dentistry (for veneers and crowns). 

Look for 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 and show a willingness to answer questions and offer multiple treatment options. They should also be willing 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 about 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.

For example, at Meza Dental we offer treatments in both Cancun, Mexico, and San Jose, Costa Rica, and have staff dedicated to helping you make all the necessary travel arrangements (even tours) so that you can relax and enjoy your trip.

We think that’s a big plus, so it’s worth investigating as you choose your provider and destination.

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: South East 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.

Dental Tourism Destinations in Latin America

Costa Rica

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 existence evident in 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 to know that the only country in Latin America that manufactures and exports more medical devices than Costa Rica is Mexico! Choosing 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 low cost of living and labor costs, 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!

Start Your Smile Makeover Today!

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 North America’s high cost of dental care. 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 to get affordable dental care. You can too!

Making the Smart Choice

And while you’re considering 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! Before we go, here are just a few reasons to consider Meza Dental to improve your smile:

  • Meza Dental has two offices available for treatment. One is located in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city.  The other is located in Cancun, Mexico. Both offices offer modern equipment and well-trained, personable, English-speaking staff for all of your restorative and cosmetic dentistry needs. 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!
  • We, at Meza Dental, pride ourselves on providing the very best care, using medically advanced techniques and the most up-to-date medical equipment, and we can do that because our highly accredited staff are phenomenal.
  • Dr Meza is the first accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and one of only three in all of Latin America.
  •  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.

We sincerely hope you will take the time to come and see for yourself, just how easy it is to get the smile you’ve always wanted. Call or email Meza Dental today and talk to one of our amazing staff, or click the link for your free estimate, and start your smile makeover now!

Dr. Alberto Meza, a pioneer in the field of Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

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