Dental Tourism: Is the price savings worth it?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

So, Gil, I don’t know if you’re aware that porcelain veneers are being done in Columbia, and people are flying all the way to South America to get their teeth done. Why do you think it’s so popular?

Gil Villavecer:

Well, I am aware because, remember, I’m in Southern California and what’s the country right below?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Mexico.

Gil Villavecer:

Right. So, why most people would go there, for tourism, and tourism is really a prettied-up word for, “I need veneers cheaper,” right?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Yes.

Gil Villavecer:

And so I always say, “Don’t shop for veneers the way you shop for your tires,” something like that, because this is a lifetime investment in you. People sometimes, they lose perspective, they’ll pay… Think of the veneers as elective for the most part, right?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Yes, not needed. It’s a want.

Gil Villavecer:

It’s not needed, it’s elective. A Louis Vuitton purse, is that a necessary procedure?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

It is not.

Gil Villavecer:

It’s pretty much elective, isn’t it?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

I just want my Louis bag.

Gil Villavecer:

But yet people don’t have a problem with that. And so really what it comes down to is, what value do you place in your veneers? So to address your question, Dr. Austin, with tourism, they feel that it’s a cheaper way to do it and that it’s prettied up because I happen to be in Mexico, Columbia, whatever… No offense to those countries because they’re beautiful, but I’m not sure that that procedure’s there. The other thing is, you’re there typically for a few days, so they have in-house labs and they have to rush the work. And imagine this scenario: if you’re having your veneers done and you have a flight that goes out tomorrow, and it’s not exactly the way you want it when you’re at the dentist chair that afternoon, what are you going to do?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

You’re going to have to stay longer-

Gil Villavecer:

Either stay longer or accept it, because that’s what you’ve got.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Yes.

Gil Villavecer:

Whereas in your case, you have a relationship with the patient, you have a relationship with the lab, we’ll make sure that it’s right by the time that patient leaves the chair.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

And one of the things I know, the cost… They do these veneers, for the whole mouth $3,000 to $5,000. So yes, that’s very attractive for someone that’s on a budget. But the one thing that [Cardi 00:02:00] actually said in the video when we first worked together, “What happens to your teeth if the veneer chips?” Is there a warranty, do you have to go back overseas? Those are factors that you have to think about. I know one of the things I love about working with you is your lab offers a warranty.

Gil Villavecer:

We do, and as I said before, we work very closely with our dentists. So for five years, if something goes wrong, you can go back to that dentist, and that dentist comes back to us and we’ll fix it.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Awesome.

Gil Villavecer:

And that way you’re assured that your dental work that you invested in is well taken care of.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

You won’t buy a refrigerator without a warranty, or a computer. Things of value, like your teeth, you should also have a warranty.

Gil Villavecer:

Right. And there’s so many things that can happen in the oral environment, right?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

You use your mouth all the time.

Gil Villavecer:

I mean, we can talk all day about the chewing forces, and chewing on ice and those kind of things. And so you can tell that it’s strong, but yet some things might happen and we do take care of that, through your dentist, here.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

So I would say, just do your research if you feel that you have to go out-of-country. Again, interview your dentist, make sure they have credentials, look at their experience. But a lot of times you can find someone in the US with the same credentials and we will work with you.

Gil Villavecer:

Don’t you guys also offer payment plans?

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Yeah, I have payment plans. I pretty much have a prepayment plan, so once we do the consultation, if your treatment is $12,000 and you want to pay X amount of dollars per month, we can do a prepayment. Once you’ve paid up, you get the work started.

Gil Villavecer:

Yeah.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

Yeah, we’re bringing back the layaway plan. Or there’s financing.

Gil Villavecer:

Exactly.

Dr. Catrise Austin:

That’s how a lot of people do it. But honestly, there’s a lot of people that don’t have good credit and they still want to smile, so I try to give them an alternative, so everybody gets to smile.

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