Why are Seniors in Australia Opting For Dental Implants Overseas Like Never Before?

Australia is always a country with high dental costs for patients of all ages. Since dental implant is a procedure demanding high cost, Australian (which include a lot of seniors) prefer to travel to other countries to get affordable dental care. It helps them to have a wider range of affordable restorative treatments and an amazing vacation out of it and actually save a fortune. Consequently, if you’re wondering why Australian seniors nowadays prefer choosing dental vacations, and how much it helps, let’s dive into this detailed article!

1. Dental facts in Australia

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is an agency developing, collecting, analyzing and reporting information on a broad range of health and welfare issues in Australia. On 20 March, they published a report about oral health and dental care in 2019. According to the AIHW’s given data, here are some noticeably dental facts in Australia in 2019:

 

Based on the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT), dentist sees the reflection of a person’s lifetime experience of dental caries in their permanent teeth. In conclusion, the average number of teeth affected by dental caries per person in Australia increased with age. The picture below illustrates the seniors above 55 years old have a big average number of DMFT which is more than 22. 

However, there is another data showing that around 1 in 4 (26%) seniors have at least one tooth with untreated dental decay. So why do many seniors have their DMFT untreated in Australia? The answer is mostly because of financial barriers. Data sourced from the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey (2013) shows that around 1 in 5 (19%) of insured adults who paid all their own dental expenses reported that dental care caused a large financial burden. Even though the elderly in Australia have Insurances, the policy barely covers all of the dental costs, especially implant expenditures. 90 percent of adults reported that health insurance paid all of the cost of their care, according to private health insurance interactive.

Therefore, many people at the age of 55 and above opt for getting dental implants overseas or having dental vacations nowadays to get rid of financial burdens.

2. What are dental implants?

Your missing teeth, may caused by a disease or accidents, can cause distortion both aesthetically and functionally to your face. They affect the way you speak and make other teeth around them gradually shift. On the outside, they make you your face sag and you may look older. In this situation, dental implants are effective alternatives to replace them. Many scientists and dentists around the world recommend patients to do a dental implant since it can keep other teeth intact, especially when you are at risk of having jaw bone loss after losing teeth for a long time. 

 

Think of dental implants as artificial tooth roots, similar in shape to screws. When dental implants are placed in your jawbone, they bond with your natural bone and become a sturdy base for supporting one or more artificial teeth. Dental implants help improve the appearance and oral health, making talking and chewing easier than dentures and very convenient for seniors. It’s the ideal restorative solution in case you have enough money to get it.

3. Who is the ideal candidate for dental implants?

There is no upper age limit for dental implants. However, the primary disadvantages of dental implants are cost and time. Dental implants take a considerable amount of time (about 3-8 months) to complete as dentists put them in patients’ mouths in stages, and it costs quite a fortune. Therefore, though there’s no upper age limit, patients need to be prepared financially and timely.

On top of that, seniors have to meet below requirements to be eligible for dental implants.

  • Healthy gum tissue, no infection: The gum tissue must be healthy and free of infection. Thus, new gum tissue can integrate well into implant abutment to maintain Implant and recover quickly.
  • Qualified jawbone level: The jawbone at the implant site must be very healthy and the height and thickness of the bone must meet the required figures so that the implant can grow stably.
  • Good health, not suffering from chronic diseases: Patients need to be in good health and mental status. If you suffer from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes then implantation is not ideal for you because the diseases will affect the healing process and bone integration. 
  • Quit smoking: Smoking harms the body’s immune system, which makes it difficult for the body to heal tissues. Tobacco prevents the healing of bone, weakens the structure of the bone and leads to open wounds, infections or bone resorption. Therefore, the patient must quit before and after the surgery.       

4. Which types of implants are most chosen?

While implants are much more effective solutions both functionally and aesthetically, most seniors choose dentures as the most cost-effective full-arch restorative solution. Yet, it depends many other factors for seniors to which is more suitable for them. The factors include affordability, preferences, health situation and dental problem. Many implant manufacturers create different types of implants for different people. However, there are common types of implants among seniors.

Single implants

The procedure replacing one tooth with dental screw supported by a single dental crown or bridge.

Full-arch Dental Implants

Definition: An implant-supported denture is a type of overdenture supported by, or attached to, dental implants.

Condition: People who need implant-supported dentures normally lost all their teeth on one or both jaws. 

Two types of full-arch dental implants most chosen by seniors are:

  1. Removable prosthetics
    1. Implant-retained dentures: Dentures supported by gum, and retained by two implants. They are used in cases the patients’ jaw bone is not thick enough for other implant procedures such as all-on-4, all-on-6 or an implant-supported bridge. 
      1. Normally consist of two implants
      2. Attachments can be bars with clips or balls and o-rings
    2. Implant-supported dentures: Dentures supported fully by 4 or 6 implants, and only touch gum slightly
  2. Semi-removable prosthetics: All-on 4, all-on-6 with the overdentures attached permanently to the implants. The advantage of removable prosthetics is the cheaper cost, easier reparation, and easier frequent cleaning process. However, semi-removable prosthetics give the customers more aesthetics and a natural-looking smile. 

5. Cost of dental implants in Australia

On average, the cost of dental implants in Australia starts from $3,000 to $7,000 for a single implant, and $15,000 to around $30,000 for the all-on-4 procedure, excluding additional procedures like a bone graft or sinus lift. This dental cost in Australia is considered high due to numerous costs of annual consumables and equipment, and staff’s standard salary. In addition, the cost barrier is the main reason why most seniors choose dentures over implants for their restorative treatments. Since a dental implant is a complex procedure demanding high cost, going to other countries with lower costs will benefit customers a large amount of money. How much? Keep reading!

6. What are the ideal destinations for your dental vacation? 

In terms of destination, two famous worth-visiting countries for Australian dental tourists are Thailand and Vietnam. Without a doubt, Thailand is an ideal destination for tourists to come and enjoy high-quality, professional service at a price of 50% of those in Australia. In Vietnam, there are many world-class dental clinics that offer dentures at a price of 30% of those in Australia. So let’s get into detail two crucial aspects making these destinations become ideal for Australian customers.

Cost

In Thailand, the cost of implants is only half the price of Australian clinics. Single implant costs around $1,500 to $2,900, and all-on-4 procedure is generally around $9,500. However, though Thailand’s dental cost already seems to be unusually low, dental costs in Vietnam are only one-third of the original prices in Australia, 30% lower than those in Thailand. Single implants in Vietnam are only $1,400, and $7,800 is needed for an all-on-4, both using premium dental materials.

 

The reason for this low cost is due to the economic situation of the countries. Average living costs, the average salary for medical employees, and facility costs are the factors that drive the cost down in Thailand and Vietnam.

 

Aside from the dental costs, Thailand and Vietnam are also known for the low traveling expense. A day in Thailand, on average, costs you $77. Yet, in reality, flight tickets to Thailand normally cost 50% of the budget, so your total expenditure per day in Thailand is only around $39. Coming to Vietnam, in comparison with a trip to Thailand, is a different story. A day in Vietnam only charge you approximately $42, given that one-day meals only cost $10.

 

Australia Vietnam Saving
Consultation AUD $175 Free AUD $175
Diagnosis + medication AUD $1,310 AUD $250 AUD $1,060
Extraction + Bone Graft AUD $3,790 AUD $1,020 AUD $2,770
All on 4 implants (2 arches) AUD $75,800 AUD $31,660 AUD $44,140
Travel expenses (2 trips) Free AUD $4,372 – AUD $4,372
Total AUD $81,075 AUD $37,302 AUD $43,773

 

Quality

Low cost is normally associated with low-quality treatment. Therefore, cost aside, let’s talk about the real quality of dental treatment in Vietnam and Thailand.

 

The typical reason people think of for the low cost is the low standard of care, technology, and equipment. In fact, many clinics in Vietnam and Thailand are equipped with state-of-the-art technology from Japan, Italy, the USA and operated by well-trained dental professionals. Most clinics meet international standards and get recognition from international clinic-rating organizations like JCI (Joint Commission International), GCR (Global Clinic Rating), and ISO standards on infection control and management system.

 

While Thailand’s dental tourism industry has been growing significantly and their service is getting better, tourists know about Vietnamese dentists for their in-depth clinical experience. The majority of the top Vietnamese dentists were trained in the Western, Australian, Chinese, and Japanese medical schools; mostly focus on their specialty instead of general dentistry.

 

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