Cambodia is welcoming a new kind of visitor into the country as it throws open its doors to dental tourism.
Competitive fees and a recent rise in the quality of professional dentists in the country has led to a sharp increase in the number of people people flocking to Cambodia to get expensive dental treatment carried out at cut-price rates.
Motomi Minemura, owner and dentist at Malis Dental Clinic, said she has seen an increase in patients from her home country, Japan, coming to the clinic specifically for treatment in recent months. “I’ve definitely noticed more foreigners coming specifically to Cambodia for dental work,” Dr Motomi, who has been a dentist for seven years, says.
“Traditionally, Bangkok was the place to go for dental treatment but recently we have seen more and more people coming to Cambodia because of the quality of dentist work here now and the cost is cheaper.”
Medical tourism, which includes dentistry, is already popular in South East Asia and has proven to be a profitable industry. Some Vietnamese hospitals have seen a 90 per cent increase in medical tourists during the last four years.
Thailand is anther popular destination, with the Government actively backing the industry since 2004 by promoting certain hospitals and popular treatments. The World Health Organisation also recently released figures that show the sector is growing 16 per cent annually and is expected to be worth more than $5 billion by 2015.
“When you compare the prices with countries such as America, Europe and Japan, there is a big difference there but not in quality. I think people also like doing this because they can make a holiday out of it too,” Dr Motomi adds.
Dr Motomi opened the practice, which is based in Phnom Penh Tower, in November 2012. Originally from Japan, she had all of the high-tech equipment and instruments shipped over from her country as well as the USA, France and Germany. A Japanese technician also works on patients’ models and any complicated cases are sent to Japan to be worked on.
“While the quality of dentists is improving in Cambodia, the level of dental technicians is quite poor,” she says. “I get Japanese technicians to make my teeth so that means Japanese people coming here for dentist work are getting exactly the same quality as they would at home but at a much lower cost.”
Examples of differences in price when comparing treatments in the USA with Malis include a dental implant and crown for one tooth costing $3,850 less here and six E4D veneers are $6,000 cheaper, costing $3,000 at Malis.
Hak Sithan, head of the Oral Health Office at the Ministry of Health, says there are about 20 clinics in Phnom Penh of international standard. The capital is also home to more than 300 dental clinics, most of which are illegal, and about 500 dentists.
Malis Dental Practice is open from 9am to 7.30pm, Monday to Saturday. For more information, visit: www.malis-dental.com