Jan 2017 Edit: 4 years later, this post is still getting considerable traffic. Its important to clarify everything below was written after my visit in 2013. I’ve no idea if its representative of Kreativ Dental in 2017 – things will have changed a lot.
In the space of two weeks I’ve gone from knowing nothing about ‘dental tourism’ to having considerable dental work done in Hungary. I took a bit of a risk with the trip because there was very little independent information online besides a few forum posts. Now after a successful trip I’m writing up my experience to hopefully aid people in the future.
I came across the phrase dental tourism after being quoted a rather large sum for some dental work in the UK.
It wasn’t just the cost of the work, but the guarantee backing it up. For example they wanted to charge over £800 for a porcelain crown, which was only guaranteed for 1 year. I’d imagine it would have lasted longer, but for me that was an expensive risk I wasn’t happy with taking.
So I did what most people do now when they face an issue… I Google’d it.
It turned out I didn’t have to search for long. A clinic called Kreativ Dental has a considerable web presence and thus was one of the first results that I came across. Based in Budapest, Hungary, the self-proclaimed pioneers of dental tourism aim to offer professional dentistry at prices lower than Western countries.
Their site(s) looked very professional and the forum posts discussing them also appeared positive. Their prices seemed very attractive, for example they could provide a crown for £370 with a 6-year warranty. The caveat is that you attend annual checkups in either Budapest or their clinic in London. I still need to find out how much these will cost – but the very fact that they are willing to back up their work was encouraging. When things seem too good to be true they usually are – and this worried me. However I continued to seek out info on their clinic. Information appeared few and far between – but there were no horror stories. This doesn’t mean MUCH, but typically if someone has a bad experience they’re pretty quick to vent frustration online. It was at this point I got in touch with Ben their UK liaison to discuss the options.
Props to Ben for being a great aid in the decision process. He talked me through flights, transfers, accommodation, appointments and the questions I had about dental work.
They offered a package that allowed me to fly out and get a consultation for just the cost of the flight. The clinic would cover transfers, one night in a hotel and the dental consultation including x-rays. I’d imagine this works to their favor as once most people have travelled to another country for a dental consultation they’re roped in and will agree to the treatment plan offered. Nevertheless – it’s still a nice touch.
At this point I had about all the information I could gather and decided to take a risk and get the work done. I did mention the trip to a few friends in the days leading up, who all though it was crazy. Perhaps rightly so!
In terms of the flight I paid £70 for a one-way Sunday eve flight from Luton to Budapest. It’s also possible to fly with Whizz Air; in particular they do an early morning flight.
On arrival in Budapest a Kreativ Dental representative greeted me with my name on her iPad. She gave me my appointment time and a 5-day travel card for the public transport system. We waited another 30 minutes at the airport for a flight from Norway to get in then we were taking by Kreativ chauffer’s to our respective hotels.
They suggest three particular hotels to stay at. I picked the slightly more costly option, which was 4 star Arena Hotel. It had a swimming pool, well equipped gym and buffet breakfast. I didn’t have any issues there, and while it may not be the newest or nicest hotel I’ve stayed at, it served its purpose.
Getting to and from the dental clinic when staying at the Arena can be done for free using the travel card provided by the clinic. You need to take the 80 or 80A from Puskás Ferenc bus stop) to Vezér Street bus stop.
The first appointment at the clinic involved a 360 X-Ray. After which the dentist took a look at my teeth and then used this information to produce a treatment plan.
In my instance the work turned out to be more expensive than I was originally quoted prior to the consultation. There was an additional root canal to be done, plus costs for the preparation of the tooth prior to the crown. The former was unexpected and couldn’t have been guessed until they did the X-ray. The latter was somewhat unfortunate as Ben had mentioned preparing the tooth, but hadn’t quoted me anything extra for it. I had to just give them the benefit of the doubt for this charge; it’s perhaps unreasonable for Ben to have known about this cost, I’m not sure.
At the clinic the three people I spoke to about their dental plans all said it worked out more expensive than they were expecting. Perhaps ones first assumption when hearing that this is that they’re running a scam. Having though about this I think it’s a combination of two things. Firstly these dentists aren’t working for the NHS where they do enough to keep your mouth healthy and functional but no more. They are professionals who want to provide the best service they can. If they see a problem in the mouth they don’t just ignore it, they look to do a comprehensive job. Secondly they are also there to make a living, so they’re going to look to do everything, and it’s down to you to push back if you believe an element is non-essential or can wait. Take for example someone who is getting veneers on their front teeth. They may quote for 8 teeth and it’s down to you to say you just want, say, the first 4.
The way it works is after the consultation is complete they present you with a dental plan that contains a breakdown of the work to do and the various costs. If there is extensive work then they may give you multiple dental plans to choose from based upon financial and time constraints. You can then talk this through with your geographical representative and dentist to iron out any questions you may have.
I agreed to the dental plan and got my next appointments.
So to summarise my treatment in case anyone is interested. I had a root canal on a molar plus a stump rebuild and post put in. Then on the same molar I had a zirconium crown put on it to protect it. Lastly I had two amalgam fillings replaced with composite and a hygienist clean. I’m very happy with the work that was carried out. Here’s a picture with my male dentist Dr. Árpád Nagy who was awesome!
So having experienced a treatment plan with Kreativ Dental… what would I say to someone looking to visit?
After speaking to others at the clinic it appeared my treatment plan was relatively minor. My costs were under £1k whereas the other three I spoke to were for ~£2.5k, £16k and £20k+. It’s at these higher price brackets where the real savings begin to become evident, even when factoring in flights and hotels. I don’t regret the visit whatsoever, but nevertheless for anything under £1k I’d probably suggest shopping around in the UK, even if it requires going outside of your local town. This is because a trip to Kreativ Dental is rather time consuming and for most people the money lost in potential earnings would balance or outweigh the potential savings. I was in between jobs when I made the trip and this makes a difference. Especially when the work was originally scheduled for a week, but due to a complication (the root canal work I didn’t know I needed) I had to stay 2 weeks.
So if you have more than £1k worth of dental work to get done, and you have the time available to make the trip to Budapest, I’d suggest you consider the clinic. Especially if the money is an issue and you don’t have a great dentist already in the UK.
I’ve made a list of positives and negatives below:
- Well organised
- Great facilities
- Very clean clinic
- Well air-conditioned
- Wi-Fi on all floors
- Rooftop cafe
- Nice, generally happy, staff
- Aquarium in the main reception (it looks cool!)
- Comprehensive treatment
- Cheaper than the UK
- Modern equipment
- Long warranties on the crowns, implants, etc.
Great businesses don’t just solve a problem, they look to provide customer satisfaction at each stage of the users’ experience – and this is something Kreativ do well.
- Treatment may work out more expensive than you had planned. It’s hard to gauge the extent of work you require.
- Treatment may require multiple visits, and this could be difficult to organise around other constraints such as a full time job
- Despite all the staff speaking English it’s still not as easy to communicate as with someone from ‘home’
- If problems arise after the treatment it may require another trip to Budapest
- The clinic was very busy for the two weeks I was there. Apparently the next week was due to be even busier (~160 patients). This does impact the experience in a couple of ways. Firstly I could tell my dentist was slightly stressed and working hard to complete the work as quickly as possible. Secondly it makes getting work done in a short space of time difficult because they are so booked up. For example I had my root canal work done on a Tuesday and then my next appointment was on a Friday. As the clinic continues to grow it will be interesting to see how they cope with this challenge.
Lastly I would add that Budapest is a great city to visit, so you can definitely keep busy between treatments. If you’re considering a visit to Kreativ Dental and have any questions do feel free to ask in the comments below.
Prepare payment method in advance. There are multiple payment methods available (cash, card and bank transfer). Card payments are made in Hungarian Forints, and therefore it’s best to bring a card that doesn’t charge for foreign transactions. After the trip I signed up with the UK’s Metro Bank, and their debit cards are awesome because they don’t charge on foreign purchases or withdrawals, you just pay the Visa exchange rate at the time.