American Dentistry Still the Best
Question: “Dr. Arnold, I read an article about medical tourism in a magazine recently. It got me to thinking about dentistry. How does American dentistry compare to the rest of the world?”
Answer: Medical tourism has become fairly popular in the past few years. Some people feel that if they can have a procedure performed effectively at a lower cost in a foreign country, they can take advantage of the savings to enjoy a vacation while they are there.
Interestingly, I returned from ten days in India recently, and I observed the same phenomenon (on a limited basis) happening in dentistry. A colleague and I gave a series of lectures on contemporary dentistry in four cities and met with over 1000 dentists from around India.
We talked with two or three dentists who actually market their services to foreigners and have patients from the Middle East, Far East, and Australia travel to see them. These patients have their dental work completed while in India and use the money that they save to see the sights and sample the culture.
Our impression was that these dentists are generally well-trained and exceedingly bright. On the other hand, they are probably ten to fifteen years behind in terms of technology and laboratory support. That is in part due to the relatively low fees they charge for dental work.
Unfortunately, buying new technology, utilizing the best materials, and paying for the best ceramists and lab techs costs more money, and they simply can’t afford it, yet. It all goes back to basic principle that you very often get what you pay for.
There are several European countries that are very advanced in their technology and care – particularly in the area of dental implants and preventive dentistry. It’s very difficult to “quantify” and measure the effectiveness and quality from one country to the next, but it is my opinion that dental education and innovation in the United States is still second to none. I base this opinion upon conversations with foreign dentists and from what I read in current dental literature.
The gap is closing, however, and Americans in every industry have got to realize that in this new “global economy” we’ve got to work harder to stay ahead of the curve or many more jobs will be outsourced and many more services (such as dental care) will be sought out in foreign countries. For a clearer understanding of how and why this is transpiring, I strongly encourage you to read Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: drarnold@SmilesByArnold.com. More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.