The Ten Commandments for Dental Travelers

Are you planning a dental procedure in a foreign country? Choosing to receive dental care away from home is becoming more popular among Americans and Canadians seeking high-quality care at low prices. Most Americans report savings of 50% and more when traveling to countries like Costa Rica for dental care. While there are many advantages to receiving dental care abroad, it’s important to know how to do it right. We’ve put together the following guidelines to help you navigate the world of international dental travel. Follow these 10 commandments for a successful dental travel experience.

1. Thou shalt PLAN WISELY

You wouldn’t visit the Grand Canyon during the peak summer months without planning ahead, so why would you expect to visit Costa Rica in January without planning your hotel and doctor appointments well in advance? The winter months in the USA (December-April) are the most popular months for dental travel in tropical locations. Good hotels fill up quickly and the best doctors often have full schedules. Make sure to plan ahead. Prepare well for your upcoming dental care. If you smoke, you will probably need to quit smoking to reduce the risk of infection before any dental procedure. Make sure that you have plenty of medication with you. Bring credit and debit cards and even insurance cards in case of emergency.


Do you believe everything you read online? Of course not. Yet many patients visit a dental clinic website and believe that every review is real. The best doctors and clinics don’t need to solicit business. It’s good to visit dental clinic websites for information, but you can’t believe everything you see. Utilize websites that offer patient ratings and allow you to speak with an actual patient advocate that will help you make the best decision for your care. Official sites like these help patients weed through the clutter and find reliable, safe and affordable care. If it’s too good to be true…it probably is.


After receiving a recommendation, ask the patient advocate for information about the recommended doctors or clinics. Review patient testimonials. See patient videos. Check out the doctor’s training and certifications. Is your chosen provider an experienced veteran or a newbie? Ask your patient advocate to schedule a phone or online call with your provider. Just a few minutes of time with your chosen doctor will reveal many details that may impact your decision. This is your health. Make wise choices.


Too many patients receive their surgery and then plan to leave 1-2 days later. This is a recipe for medical mishaps. Take time after your procedure to rest, relax and recover. It’s better to spend a couple of extra vacation days to recuperate after your care than to travel too soon and risk infection or further injury. Ask your patient advocate how much time is recommended to rest after your procedures to ensure a safe journey home.


Do you live in the lowest priced house, drive the lowest priced car or eat the cheapest food? Do you wear the cheapest clothes or take vacations only based on price? Everyone wants to save some money on dental care. That’s why you’re considering an international provider. But making a dental decision solely based on the price will lead to heartbreak. Most patients will save 50% to 70% when seeking care in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala or other Latin American dental travel hotspots. Is it worth it to take a risk to save another 5% on potentially substandard care? We don’t think so. Discuss your budget with your patient advocate and be reasonable. If something goes wrong, do you have the money to return to fix the problem? If not…it’s better to spend a little more on the best provider than to save a little bit on the wrong provider. Always use an experienced patient care advocate to help you make your decision.

6. Thou shalt GET IT IN WRITING

Legitimate dental providers will provide patients with a written estimate of their care, including all costs, procedures, dates and times of the consultation and surgery, number of nights in the hospital and any relevant contact numbers. By working with a patient advocate, you will have the security of having someone looking out for you, making sure that you receive the best provider at the best possible prices.


If you feel that something is wrong, trust your instincts. When you arrive at your destination and finally meet the surgeon or dentist, it’s ok to think twice. Some hesitation is natural, and it’s common to feel nervous before any procedure. But if you feel uncomfortable with your surgeon or feel threatened in any way, speak with your patient advocate and find another solution. If you are concerned about changes in pricing, this is also a good time to address those concerns with your doctor. Sometimes, pricing does change. That’s common when dealing with medical and dental issues. But if you feel that you are being treated unfairly, you have a right to a second opinion or a doctor that you feel you can trust.


Dental care has some level of risk. It’s important to minimize risk when possible, by making informed, smart choices. If three doctors tell you that it’s unsafe to get a certain procedure, it’s risky to choose the only doctor that approves the procedure…just because he agrees with you. There will always be some sham doctor that will do whatever you want. Remember, this is your life. Why take chances?

If your dentist tells you it will take 7 days to complete your care, don’t rush your dentist to complete the treatment in 5 days, so you can go to the beach. This puts you in danger and puts the dentist in an uncomfortable position of wanting to please you by rushing the care process.

Listen to the advice of your patient advocate and be patient with your care. The decision to seek dental care abroad is an important one. Make your dental travel experience a safe one. Heed the advice of professionals that are looking out for you.


No matter what the other commandments say, most patients will make many mistakes planning their dental travel. Instead of navigating this difficult path blindly, we recommend that you reach out to our patient advocate and seek the help of trusted dental professionals. Our patient advocates are here to help. We’ll help you find the right healthcare professionals, negotiate the best rates, and will even help you with appointments, transportation, and more…to make sure that every detail of your dental experience is positive and safe.


While dental travel is a serious business, it’s also important to enjoy your travels. Plan enough time to enjoy your chosen destination. Bring a friend or two along with you to share the experience. Some patients bring groups of people to receive dental procedures at the same time. This is a great way to share costs and support each other during the experience. Go out for dinner, see a show, go to the beach, visit the rainforest, and have fun shopping! It’s your vacation. Enjoy it the way you want…within reason! Stay safe and have fun!