With a pool of highly-skilled practitioners, state-of-the-art facilities and affordable costs, HCM City is rapidly emerging as a dental care tourism destination.
A full range of dental services is available, including cleaning, teeth whitening, dental implants, bone reconstruction orthodontics, ceramic veneers, crowns and bridges.
Dương Quốc Chí, 58, an overseas Vietnamese from Italy, combines a quick vacation in HCM City with a visit to a dentist.
“Dental care in Việt Nam costs about a third of the price compared to Italy,” he said.
He and his wife come to HCM City on vacation to visit family for three weeks.
“I plan to get some dentistry work done here in HCM City. Besides low cost, dental clinics in the city offer good services and highly qualified doctors.”
A check-up and cleaning will cost around 50 euros (US$56) in Italy compared to around VNĐ200,000-300,000 (US$9-13) at local clinics in HCM City and VNĐ500,000-800,000 at international clinics.
Dentistry costs in Việt Nam are only around 75 per cent of the rates in other Asian countries, according to Nguyễn Đức Minh, deputy chairman of the HCM City Odonto Stomatology Association.
Due to skyrocketing costs of dental care in western countries, more and more overseas Vietnamese and foreign travellers get work on their teeth done while visiting Việt Nam.
The city has a large number of international and private dental clinics with high quality services meeting international standards.
“Local dentists are highly qualified and are involved with ongoing training and education to keep up with the latest techniques in dentistry,” Minh, who is also director of HCM City’s Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology, said.
Despite high-quality cosmetic and dental care and affordable costs, local dentistry has not yet fully explored its huge potential.
Nearly 100,000 foreign tourists travel to Việt Nam each year as dental tourists, providing revenues of nearly US$150 million, according to figures from the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism.
The administration forecasts the number of dental tourists to soar to 250,000 a year in the next five years.
The hospital treats nearly 500 overseas Vietnamese and foreigners every year.
This month the hospital will set up four state-of-the-art surgery rooms that meet international standards of hygiene and infection control
Dental tourism club
Việt Nam is a favourite destination for international tourists due to its culture, breathtaking natural landscapes, world heritage sites, pristine white-sand beaches, exquisite food and friendly and hospitable people.
Tourism experts said dental holiday packages include accommodation, airport transfers, dental consultation and appointments and sightseeing tours.
A foreign tourist can easily combine a quick vacation with work on their teeth with the whole thing costing lower than just dental costs in their country, Nguyễn Minh Thắng, a dentist at Cẩm Tú Dental Clinic in District 1, said.
Dental clinics should have highly-skilled practitioners with proficiency in English, good quality and risk management practices and close co-operation with travel firms, he said.
Dentistry, tourism sector co-operation
Lã Quốc Khánh, deputy director of the city Department of Tourism, said dental tourism is part of medical tourism, a key segment the city has identified for priority.
The dentistry industry should come up with a list of accredited clinics to introduce to tourists through tour operators and travel agents, he said.
Tourism experts said the health department, dental hospitals and clinics, the tourism department and travel firms should work closely to promote dental tourism in promising markets like the US and Australia.
The association plans to establish a dental tourism club with qualified Vietnamese dentists and professional consultancy from leading experts in the neighbourhood.
The association will promote dental tourism in the city and improve the capacity of local dentistry to a level comparable with places like Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.