Affordable Dental Care Options: Dental School or Dental Tourism

Affordable Dental Care Options: Dental School or Dental Tourism

A visit to the local dentist is becoming too expensive for most Americans. While prices for routine check-ups and cleanings are somewhat reasonable, prices for dental implants, crowns and full mouth restorations have reached stratospheric heights. Across the USA, dental implants are priced at $1900-$2500. In some markets, a dental implant can cost as much as $4000. Add a crown to the dental implant and the price almost doubles.

These high prices have pushed many patients to consider alternative sources for treatment. Some patients, living near major metro areas with dental schools, opt to receive more affordable care at a dental school. Others seek treatment with leading specialists in foreign countries to save money. Which is better? Let’s discuss the risks and benefits of each scenario.

Dental School Benefits:

  1. Affordable Rates: Patients report savings of 30% or more when compared to dental clinics in the USA. On complex procedures, this can amount to large savings.
  2. Close to Home: Most dental schools are located close to major metro markets, making them accessible to most patients living near a big city. In the case of any problems, patients do not have to travel far to receive support care.
  3. Supervised Care: Care is offered by dental school students but may be supervised by professors or other dental specialists.

Dental School Concerns:

  1. Patients receive care from dental school students, not licensed professionals or specialists. There is a greater risk that complex care will not be managed properly and may result in complications or failure. Dental schools are acceptable for routine care but may be too risky for complex care like dental implants or an All on 4 procedure.
  2. No guarantees. Dental schools do not offer guarantees on their work. Patients assume the risk of care provided by students, which is often below the standard of care offered by dental professionals.
  3. No continuum of care. Dental students are practicing their skills and will leave the school upon graduation. Patients cannot expect to return to the same doctor for care.
  4. Length of Care: Many dental schools provide treatment plans that take one or more years to complete. During this time, several dental students may provide care to one patient. This is a deterrent for many patients that want a relationship with a proven, experienced dental professional.

Dental Tourism

A growing number of American patients are choosing dental tourism to save money on dental care. Many dentists in the USA are skeptical or downright hostile toward the concept of dental tourism for one looming reason: Dental tourism takes patients away from their expensive clinics. Most Americans still seek dental care close to home. But when patients receive estimates of $50,000 to $80,000 for a full mouth restoration or All on 4 dental implants procedure, many patients research alternatives and often choose dental care in leading dental tourism destinations like Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Dental Tourism Benefits:

  1. Affordable rates. Patients can expect savings of 50% or more when compared to rates in the USA. This is a dramatic savings even over dental school prices.
  2. Most leading dental tourism destinations are located a short flight away from most major US cities. Leading dental tourism hotspots like Costa Rica and Guatemala are only 2.5 hours by plane from Miami.
  3. Specialist Care: Leading dental tourism clinics offer the top national specialists for dental implants, crowns, maxillofacial surgery and other complex procedures.
  4. Dental Vacations: Many patients travel to tropical destinations to receive excellent quality dental care from top specialists and take dream vacations funded by using a portion of their savings.
  5. Compassionate Care: While many patients in US dental clinics receive scant little time with their dentist or specialist, dental travel patients often receive personal attention and compassionate care from their dentists and the entire dental team. In some destinations, your dentist may even visit you at your hotel to check on your progress and make sure you are comfortable.
  6. Guarantees: Leading dental tourism clinics understand the nature of dental travel and seek to assure patients by offering impressive guarantees. For example, Goodness Dental in Costa Rica and Guatemala was the first clinic to offer a lifetime guarantee on dental implants. Almost no American clinics offer comparable guarantees.

Dental Tourism Concerns:

  1. Shady Clinics: Some clinics offering cut-rate care have been known to provide sub-standard dental care. Patients are advised to consult local guides and international rankings to find the best providers. Guides like,, and offer patients the opportunity to submit a request to receive a free quote from leading dental tourism clinics, removing the risk from your dental care search.
  2. Travel Expenses: The cost for flights, hotel and meals can be expensive in some destinations. The top dental tourism clinics offer concierge services to help patients find the best hotels at the best rates. Some clinics offer free transportation from the airport and to patient appointments. Most patients discover that the cost for airfare and hotel is a small price to pay for the potentially large savings on dental care.
  3. Follow-up Care: When problems arise back home, most patients are far away from their international dental provider. This is in unavoidable drawback to dental tourism. However, over the years, savvy dental clinics have learned to offer the highest quality care to ensure that patients experience minimal complications in between visits.
  4. How to Find the Best Dental Clinics? Patients are encouraged to read reviews from the dental clinic’s Google business page and Facebook page. Clinics with the best reputations generally take the best care of their patients. Accredited clinics also demonstrate a commitment to quality that has been measured and quantified. Patients should seek accredited clinics when possible.

Every month, tens of thousands of dental patients seek more affordable dental care, many getting on airplanes to journey to tropical dental tourism destinations to save money on dental care. Organizations like Global Clinic Rating ( and help patients find the best clinics with proven verifiable outcomes, ensuring a safe, high quality dental experience with the leading dental tourism providers.

If you are interested in discussing dental care in Costa Rica, please fill out the “Help me Find a Dentist” form. A participating dental specialist will reply to your needs.