Truth be told, my parents don’t have passports. They don’t want to leave America and I’ve accepted that they will never visit me in any of the “obscure” countries I visit and live in. Like many “Boomers”, they feign disinterest in traveling abroad (for some reason they’re convinced that the ‘Steel Curtain’ still exists) and generally feel as though everything that they could be interested in seeing or doing can be found within the boundaries of the United States.
I know the real reason, though. They’re scared.
And I can’t even say that I really blame them. For one, this is a generation that seems to have had xenophobia programmed into them within the government schools. More importantly, though, they’re not getting any younger. Maybe I’m not old enough or I have simply been extremely blessed in my life where I’ve never given healthcare a second thought.
But I know they do.
I have been lucky enough where I have yet to have to visit a medical doctor or related healthcare worker for any type of pressing or existing medical condition. However, I have now visited dentists in multiple countries and can vouch for the quality of service, availability, and, most importantly, price. If you’re going abroad, you may find that your dental care options are better than they are in the United States!
My first experience with international dental work was when I was living in Budapest, Hungary. I researched a few different companies before deciding on one that appeared to have the staff with the strongest English-language ability (sorry, my Hungarian ain’t great!) Prices for a cleaning were VERY reasonable by U.S. standards although I’m sure that if I had opted for a more “local” option that they may have been even lower.
The cleaning itself was by far the best dental experience of my life. The dentist and her assistant worked on me simultaneously in a very organized and complementary manner. Additionally, the dreaded “pick” tool was not used at all and the plaque was gently blasted off with some device that I was (and still am) not familiar with. In addition to the process being cheap and fast (I was in-and-out in less than 20 minutes…including wait time), my teeth had NEVER felt cleaner. Freshly polished teeth feeling for at least a week after!
Hungarian Experience: 5/5
My other experience with dental care while abroad took place when I was living in Mexico. This time, I took to the streets, venturing far from tourist-heavy areas and making an appointment at the first dentist office I found (that appeared to cater almost exclusively to locals).
The dentist was so cute, halting her work on her current client, taking out a GIANT ledger that looked to be from about 1917, flipping to the current week, and filling me in for the next available appointment time. We made a verbal agreement that I would return at that time (I probably didn’t look like I had a local number…she was right!)
Three days later, I returned to the office and conversed in my improving Spanish (although, believe it or not, there aren’t so many lessons called “around the dentist’s office”!) as she quickly and efficiently worked on my teeth. Gone was the “blast tool” from Hungary as well as the “Voltron” group effort, but the experience was still as good, if not better than a typical cleaning in the U.S. After about 25 minutes (no wait this time) and a feeling of better-than-average teeth cleanliness, I finally made my inquiry.
“Muchas gracias, senora. Cuanto cuesta?”
“Excelente! Gracias! Hasta luego!”
I had paid roughly $25 USD (at that time) for the cleaning!
Mexican Experience 4/5
In all honesty, I understand that there is much more to healthcare than dentistry and maybe one day, I’ll have the opportunity to write about medical care abroad (fingers crossed, I tell ya!) However, for those expecting an inferior product and putting off extensive travel plans as a result, think about efficiency and cost-effectiveness. These aren’t terms exclusive to Western business objectives; they’re what you’ll experience with your international cleanings!