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DENTAL TOURISM IN NEPAL

written by: Maria Nowacka   |   Apr 23, 2020   |   114 views

DENTAL TOURISM IN NEPAL

HOLIDAY WITH A MOUTH WIDELY OPEN.

Enjoying moments of peace, while having masala chiya (famous Nepali spiced tea) and samosa (Southasian potato pastry) in a local bar in the most touristic area of Kathmandu, Thamel. Morning as every morning. Or not really? With the next bite of delicious potato pastry, I feel something is not right inside my mouth... sugar! The filling is out. This is traveller's worse scenario, any kind of medical problem during the holiday. And in Nepal, third world country! Doesn't matter if I Iove dentists or not, having a big hole in the tooth is the most unpleasant feeling you can imagine. Immediately I decided to use my travel insurance and make an appointment with a local dentist.

Although my dental adventure was completely spontaneous and unplanned, I feel to share it for your benefits. First of all, because it will probably put a new light on Nepalese quality. Secondly and momentously, because more organised dental care combined with the holiday it's a growing trend, called dental tourism. And this is what I am going to write about in this article.

ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH

After arranging everything with the insurance company I was sent to one of the hospitals in Kathmandu with the dental unit. After visiting Nepal a few times, I knew already that here you can expect anything, so better to expect nothing. I was walking up the stairs with having heart in my mouth.

The hospital looked fresh, new and clean and so looked the dental department, room and equipment inside it. And the dentist? He seemed enough professional for me to open my mouth and let him deal with my problem. Finally, the filling was done was I even got meaningful advice about the rest of my teeth. This visit was a blessing, I have to say. I was feeling lighter and my tooth filling was feeling good and smooth. It's still there until now, so I guess the work was done properly. However, the story likes to repeat. So there you go. A week after I lost filling from my other tooth. How weird is that? Again the same scenario, the same dental clinic and the same dentists. And the same positive outcome. This time even more meaningful advice about my teeth. I would feel ashamed to appear there for the third time, likely it never happened...

Overall, this was a pleasant and unpleasant experience. Unpleasant, because not scheduled into my holiday time. And, with big respect to the dentist profession, who likes going to the dentist?!

Pleasant, because I could enjoy masala tea and samosa in busy Thamel again. On top of that, this unexpected incident gave me the reason to write about dental care in Nepal. 

WHAT IS DENTAL TOURISM? DENTAL TOURISM AROUND THE WORLD

Dental tourism has started when people discovered they can have their teeth done in some countries around the world for lower prices than in their home country. This mostly applies to Americans, Australians, some Europeans, where dental care is incredibly expensive. Dental tourism combines dental treatment and holiday at the same time. For some people, it may seem ridicules to visit a dentist while having a holiday. But for some is the way to save a hundred or sometimes even thousands of dollars, while travelling at the same time.

Countries as Mexico, Guatemala, Hungary, Thailand, Vietnam or Indonesia have been the most chosen destinations to become tourist with a healthy smile. Dental tourism is a rising trend not only because of the savings, but also because of an increasing number of dentists in developing countries holding professional, and often international qualifications. The standards of dental clinics often are comparable with the standards in the West. The financial benefits are also tempting. Taking as an example my story (although my fees were covered by the insurance company, driven by curiosity I have investigated the prices) for two tooth-coloured composite fillings and full jaw x-ray I was charged 5000 rupees, equivalent  40USD. In Poland, my home country, I would pay around 100USD for the same treatment. And dental care in Poland is not considered as an expensive one. Comparatively, similar treatment in the USA would cost at least 400USD. Saving is significant.

However, talking about this particularly delicate topic, saving has to go along with quality.  For this reason, let's examine the dental situation in Nepal.

SIT DOWN AND RELAX. HISTORY AND CURRENT SITUATION OF DENTAL CARE IN NEPAL.

Globally the dental care depends on political, socio-economic and cultural factors. Similarly, it is in Nepal. With the growth of the economy, the attitudes towards personal hygiene here have been changing. That is why the policies and improvements in the dental care sector in Nepal have been visibly developing over the last years. Recent studies show improvements happening in the public field, such as policies and projects supporting people's awareness, dental education programmes at schools, more accessible dental care and resources, promotion of dental studies in the country. The findings from the research study 'Dentists in Nepal: situation analysis' from the year 2017 show a significant increase in the number of dentists graduated in Nepal since the year 2010. Also, a number of dental students finishing universities with Master Diploma, not only a Bachelor degree, has risen. Most Nepalese dentists graduated in their home country, with around 1/3 of the dentists completed their studies abroad, mostly in India.

Not only public sector of dental care is facing transformation, but also private clinics are becoming more modern and professional due to accessibility to newer technologies and equipment, mostly imported from India and China.

The Nepal Dental Association was established in September 1990 and since then is a mother organization responsible for dental projects and awareness programmes, gathering dentists in the country as well as monitoring their qualifications.

DENTOTREK. HEALTHY SMILE DURING YOUR HOLIDAY.

Nepal with it wonders gives a great destination for a holiday. It is not only mecca for trekking enthusiasts but also an amazing place to have a relaxing, attractive and absorbing vacation. Since many countries in Asia have discovered that dental tourism is a lucrative business, Nepal has not been different. Owners of private clinics have been investing in dentists' qualifications and equipment to satisfy their clients, both, Nepalese and foreigners.

Travel agencies and dental clinics have launched packages offering dental care combined with trekkings, as well as sightseeing tours. Trekking to Annapurna Base Camp, visiting Rara Lake or going for honey hunting in hidden forests of Nepal are only a few examples of trips that can be combined with having teeth done. Depending on the type of treatment is needed the time schedule can be discussed individually.

RISKY GAME OR AN EXCELLENT IDEA?

While booking the dental holiday, one shouldn't assume that all foreign dentists are good and equally qualified. Similarly, as it is in the home country. Even though the travel agencies and dental clinics set standards, compliance varies. So what to consider while going abroad for a dental vacation?

* search for reviews, testimonials and feedbacks from other patients

* ask dentists for qualifications and work history. You are the customer, so you have the right to know these things. These are your teeth and they tell a lot about you!

* depending on a treatment you need, plan or request organizing company to have few days extra, just in case. Some work needs time in between, so have it to not to stress. You can always discover the attractions locally in the meantime.

* some procedures, such as implants, may need even more time to be done. Decide if you want and can travel to that country several times or rather stay there for longer. All countries in Asia have the option of monthly visa, with some giving even 3 months tourist visas. If you are retired or can work from home, you may consider longer stay. Accommodation is usually cheap in Asian countries, along with food and transportation. Even cheaper when booking for a longer period.

* safe return tip says plan few extra days after the treatment to check up if everything is settled inside your mouth. The truth is that everyone makes mistakes and it also may happen when doing your teeth abroad. You want to have time and option to return to the clinic and fix it, before going back home. You may also plan your budget taking into account that you would need to go back to the treatment country. With more serious procedures, like crowns or implants, the symptoms may appear sometime after the work being done. With the savings you make it isn't hard to put aside some amount of money for an emergency.

Taking these precautions will help you to feel more relaxed and avoid unnecessary complications. In the end, this is your holiday!

Below you can find a simple comparison of some of the dental tourism prices with prices in the US.

An example of cost for some dental treatments in one of the clinics in Kathmandu (with good reviews from international patients)

Treatment

Price in USD

Root Canal Treatment (RCT)

 

RCT- Anterior Teeth

60$

RCT- Premolars

70$

RCT- 1st Molar

90$

RCT- 2nd Molar

105$

RCT- 3rd Molar

120$

Fillings

 

Filling- GIC Grade 1-3

8-16$

Filling- Composite Grade 1-3

12-20$

Filling- Miracle Mix Grade 1-3

8-16$

Crown

 

Crown- Metal Crown

60$

Crown- Metal Ceramic

80$

Crown- All Ceramic (eMax)

145$

 

THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF LANGUAGES, BUT A SMILE SPEAKS THEM ALL

Dental Tourism in Nepal

While knowing that smile is a universal way to communicate around the world, take another step and experience that in Nepal! It's not in any way advertisement, but once you step your foot here you will know what I'm talking about. Nepalese people are charming, mainly because they smile a LOT!

Wherever you decide to travel, be prepared to be welcomed with Namaste greeting and smile. These two are very touching gestures and make the travel more pleasant and enjoyable. Especially, while meeting village people, who often don't speak English.

Alongside, healthy teeth will you give confidence and self-esteem to smile widely. Of course, you can put so much effort whole your life to take care of them, but at some point, you will need small or more serious treatment to be done. Do not be afraid to become a dental tourist! Travel, fix your teeth and save. And repeat. (Hopefully not too often!)

'A genuine smile comes from the heart, but a healthy smile needs good dental care'


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