21 Jun, 2007, 0332 hrs IST,
Vishakha Talreja & Khomba Singh, TNN
NEW DELHI: American tourist Christina Douglas enjoyed her recent 12-day visit to India. Besides the Taj Mahal what she remembers most is that the country returned her smile. That too for just $3,333 she spent on cosmetic dentistry as compared to $88,888 that it would have cost her in the US.
Incredible India is now putting smiles on many faces. Thanks to quality dental treatments available at over 70% cheaper than that in the west, globetrotters are thronging the country, to get various dental treatments from root canal surgeries to implants.
Getting cavities filled and teeth repaired are just a small part of the growing medical tourism sector. Tummy tucks with a trip to the Taj, cardiac surgeries followed by spa massages and dental implants after an excursion to Khajuraho – medical tourism has come of age in India. Dental tourism, growing at 30% per annum is one of the fastest growing segment of medical tourism.
Says Jaipur Dental Hospital’s Dr Harvender Singh, “Owing to lower cost as compared to that in UK and US, foreigners opt for India. Cost can be as low as 1/15th at times varying with the type of treatment.” Dental implant is the most common type of treatment that foreign patients avail of.
What has also made dental tourism one of the fastest growing segment of medical tourism, is the fact that dental treatment is not covered by insurance in most countries. Max Hospital’s, head of dentistry department, Ramesh Mathur says, “About 90% of the preventive dental treatment is not covered by insurance policies. Many hospitals in India provide world class treatment in terms of laboratory, materials used and also easy and speedy appointments.”
And what about the competition? “Though there is competition from Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, they cannot match the quality of treatment provided by Indian hospitals,” he added. To woo dental tourists, doctors and tour operators are working in sync.
In India, the procedures are quite speedy as compared to those carried out in the west where there could be a waiting period for some surgical procedures. And then there are cases of incidental dental treatment too. “About 40% of the dental tourists are patients who have come for some other treatment and then decided to have dental treatment done as well,” says Mathur.
With growing market, dental tourism is serious business for many players. For instance Confident Dental Equipment, Bangalore based dental equipment manufacturing company, is setting up a chain of 100 dental hospitals, investing around Rs 500-600 crore, largely to cater to the needs of foreign patients.