Cosmetic Dentistry: Is Destination Dentistry a Bargain or Nightmare?

by Joe Bulger DDS

What is Destination Dentistry?

Basically, Destination Dentistry involves traveling to a location to undergo extensive Reconstructive or Cosmetic Dentistry. You may do some sightseeing along the way, but your trip is centered around your health care.

Is Destination Dentistry a bargain or nightmare? The Illusion of Destination Dentistry…

Cosmetic Dentistry can lend itself to that model of care. You can fly in and within a few days head back home with a new smile.

This concept of Destination Care isn’t new. The Cayman Islands were long considered a place to go for your Plastic Surgery. That way you could spend your recovery time away from the prying eyes of your neighbors and friends.

The surgical fees weren’t any lower in the Caymans. In fact, quite the opposite. You paid a premium for world-renowned doctors, and it was all about discretion. Go on a vacation to the Caribbean Islands and secretly have your surgery done. You would return home healed and refreshed and no one would be wiser.

The doctors loved it because the Cayman Islands were also a tax haven.

Nowadays, people aren’t so secretive about plastic surgery and they don’t feel the need to hide for a few weeks on some far off island. Plastic Surgery has moved to local providers these days.

Cosmetic Dentistry has become less unique.

Heard of The Mayo Clinic? They coined the term Destination Medicine. You can travel there and get all your diagnostics and treatment done in a short time period. You’ll pay top dollar for top-notched care from a terrific team of healthcare professionals.

When you have a serious medical issue and your life’s on the line, you don’t mind paying for that high level of care.

Destination Dentistry has been done for years by high-end practitioners.You would travel to their clinic for specific work and stay at a local hotel.

I’ve had such patients fly in from other countries for Reconstructive and Cosmetic Dentistry because it wasn’t available for them in their country.

Nowadays, that level of care is easier to find in most countries. Cosmetic Dentistry has become less unique. Just like what has happened with Plastic Surgery, the model of care has now moved locally.

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New Trend – Foreign Luxury Services

Some people would gladly buy a knock-off of a designer purse. They want the appearance of luxury at a bargain price. They’ll accept that the quality isn’t nearly the same for what amounts to a ridiculously low price.

The speed, convenience and low price all make it seem irresistible, but there’s a dark side.

Similarly, a new version of Destination Dentistry has emerged. This emerging trend is driven by the lower fees in some countries for high-end services like Cosmetic Dentistry. What might cost you $20k here would be less than half that in some countries.

The travel industry has clued in to the huge discrepancy in the cost of health care between countries. Businesses have been set up to attract bargain-conscious patients from developed countries. The travel agents can offer ready-made packages.

Here’s how it works: If you needed major work done or wanted extensive Cosmetic Dentistry, a travel agent would arrange a trip so you could get your dentistry done at one of these clinics while you’re enjoying some vacation time. You would pay a bargain price for your treatment and the travel agency gets a slice of the business.

You’re sold on the idea you get to relax on the beach somewhere with all that money you’re saving.

The speed, convenience and low price all make it seem irresistible… but there’s a dark side.

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Cosmetic Dentistry for Lowest Price

Why pay $20-$30k when you can have it somewhere at a fraction of the cost with a vacation thrown in? That’s the logic behind it.

Lack of follow-up care is a big reason to avoid bargain-priced Destination Dentistry.

If you think of Cosmetic Dentistry as a commodity, then the appeal of Destination Dentistry is crystal clear. Better price for the exactly the same thing.

A dentist is a dentist. A smile is a smile. Just like buying a box of Tide detergent at your local Walmart for a rock bottom price. Right?

Don’t you believe it. Cosmetic Dentistry isn’t a commodity and bargains aren’t always bargains.

If you vale your smile, why would you take such risks? Stop and ask yourself if you want better price or better quality?

Yes, of course you want both. Everybody wants both. In reality, you can’t have best quality AND best price. Except for that rare treasure you found in the bargain bin at Winners, and when’s the last time THAT happened?

So you have to choose where Dentistry falls for you on the spectrum of best quality and best price. Which side of that spectrum are you biased towards?

Read this alarming story from a UK paper – “How My Smile Was Ruined by a Dodgy Dentist.”

Lack of follow-up care is a big reason to avoid bargain-priced Destination Dentistry.

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Would You Choose Bargain Dentistry for Cosmetics?

Given a choice, would you ever go to a lower tier dentist? Probably not.

Exceptional dentistry takes time.

So why the sudden urge to go off on a trip to get the lowest price? Why would anyone be willing to travel to some far away place and put their health and smile into the hands of people they’ve never even met?

I’ll tell you why. Travel agencies are great marketers. They know how to tell you a wicked good story and hook you in on those all-inclusive vacation package deals. They imply that everything’s taken care of and they make it all seem like a grand adventure.

You’ll get a cleverly paint picture of a healthy happy you returning from your trip with a fabulous new smile.

Reality doesn’t always measure up to the illusion. Like all those stories of young honeymooners signing up for some bargain resort only to find it looked NOTHING like the brochure.

Buyer beware. I’ve had to clean up some of those nightmares.

Here’s the thing. Exceptional dentistry takes time. If you want your smile taken care of properly, I strongly suggest avoiding those cowboy dentists who’ll slam dunk Reconstructive and Cosmetic Dentistry into your mouth.

Do you think travel merchants will give you a balanced viewpoint of Destination Dentistry, including the substantial risks? No. They want to make the sale and will downplay any risks involved.

These days, travel merchants are hungry and smell an opportunity. They’ve started promoting healthcare-driven packages lately because we have aging boomers with disposable income and growing healthcare needs. Major dental work is a big part of that.

There are big bucks on the table for Destination Dentistry, even with the hefty price reductions. Travel agencies want a slice of it and they can masterfully bypass your better judgment.

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)

Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cosmetic Dental Treatment July 11, 2012 at 6:10 am

Nowadays people no longer feel the need to travel to far off places to get their cosmetic surgery done. They would much rather have it done somewhere near so that they can rest in the confines of their own house. Have a look at our website for different types of cosmetic dental treatment offered in Richmond.


2 karlomoss@cosmetic dentist NJ July 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

The new face of Cosmetic Dentistry is here.People choose cosmetic dentistry also known as esthetic dental procedures/surgery for various reasons.To repair a defect such as a malformed bite or crooked teeth, treat an injury, or just improve their overall appearance. Whatever the reason, the ultimate goal is to restore a beautiful smile.


3 Kauai Cosmetic Dentist October 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

It is better that people will have their dental surgery or treatment near their home because dental procedures may take some time and rest is very important. It is better to rest in the comfort of the home, thus choosing the location of the dental clinic and the dentist is very essential.


4 Quincy Cosmetic Dentist December 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm

You are absolutely right. Every cosmetic dental work can do wonders on your physical appearance. Cosmetic dentistry today is not a want but a needed service.

Enjoyed browsing through your post. Thanks! :)


5 Flavio Meij June 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I strongly believe that we need to pay more attention with our dental needs. Although, we brush our teeth everyday, it is still very important to visit our dentist twice a year to make sure that our dental problems will be addressed properly. If we fail to do such thing, we may ending up loosing our permanent teeth and loose our beautiful smile in the future.


6 William Fagan May 18, 2013 at 6:28 am

Wow the definition of destination dentistry has been made very interesting and clear by you. I love the way you describe these things relating to dental health etc. I was impressed with a Cayman dentist, his attitude towards the patients was awesome and he made my experience in the islands even better.


7 Wilfredo R December 4, 2013 at 9:57 am

I will use these dental care tips that I have learned in this article. If my teeth are neglected, my white smile may suffer. This article can help me know how to do just that.


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