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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 237-240

Holistic oral health care in India: A corporate perspective

1 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Rishiraj College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
2 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Rishiraj College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
3 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Rama Dental College Hospital and Research Centre, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
4 Department of Dental Surgery, Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Sciences, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

Date of Submission29-Oct-2014
Date of Acceptance14-Jul-2015
Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2015

Correspondence Address:
Manas Gupta
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Rishiraj College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-1363.170144

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People from many advanced countries are traveling to developing countries like India for medical and dental care along with their vacations, which is also known as medical tourism. Dental tourism means traveling abroad for affordable dental care, dental surgery, or dental procedures, which is generally expensive in their own country, while exploring the visiting country. Dental tourism forms 10% of the total Indian medical tourism, which is projected to grow to 30% by 2015. It has greatly developed overtime and it is likely to further expand more as international patients find it more and more advantageous due to affordable dental treatments in India from highly qualified and experienced professionals. The oral health professionals can arrange for travel and tours along with dental treatment at most competitive rates. The article focuses on the emergence of the dental tourism as a booming industry and the key management aspects that will help oral health professionals to establish India as a dental care destination.

Keywords: Dental care, dental tourism, oral health professionals

How to cite this article:
Gupta M, Mishra P, Srivastava R, Jyoti B. Holistic oral health care in India: A corporate perspective. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2015;27:237-40

How to cite this URL:
Gupta M, Mishra P, Srivastava R, Jyoti B. Holistic oral health care in India: A corporate perspective. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Dec 6];27:237-40. Available from: http://www.jiaomr.in/text.asp?2015/27/2/237/170144

   Introduction Top

The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who "travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than 24 h and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity, remunerated from within the place visited." [1] According to Goodrich and Goodrich (1987), medical tourism is the attempt by a country to attract tourists by deliberately promoting its healthcare services and facilities, in addition to its regular tourist amenities. [2] Medical tourism is also known as medical travel, health tourism, or global healthcare, which has been coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly growing practice of traveling across international borders to obtain health care. It also refers pejoratively to the practice of healthcare providers traveling internationally to deliver health care. [1]

   Origin and Evolution of Medical and Dental Tourism Top

Medical tourism is actually thousands of years old. In ancient Greece, pilgrims and patients came from all over the Mediterranean to the sanctuary of the healing God, Asklepios, at Epidaurus. In the Neolithic and Bronze age, people used to visit neighboring countries for minerals and hot springs. At first, mere traveling was considered to be a good therapy for mental and physical well-being. In the 21st century, relatively low-cost jet travel has taken the industry beyond the wealthy and desperate. [3]

Today we have reached an era where hospitals are more like spas and spas are more like hospitals. [3] India has a potential to attract 1 million health tourists per annum, which will contribute US$ 5 billion to the economy. Patients from various countries are becoming medical tourists to India for the low-cost and health restorative alternative treatments. The medical tourists undergo health restorative treatments including a combination of ayurveda, yoga, acupuncture, herbal oil massage, nature therapies, and some ancient Indian healthcare methods such as vedic care, an alternate healthcare service. [4]

   Epidemiology Top

Cost advantage is the attractive aspect of Indian modern medicine, which is 10-15 times lower than anywhere in the world. [4] It was estimated that in 2002, 600,000 medical tourists came to Bangkok and Phuket medical centers in Thailand, while approximately 150,000 foreign patients visited India during that time. [3] The CII-McKinsey report suggested that medical tourism could fetch as much as $2 billion by 2012, compared to an estimated $333 million in 2006-2007. Medical tourism industry, according to CII, is expected to be worth US$ 4 billion by 2017. [4]

The number of arrivals of Asian medical tourists is expected to cross the figure of 10 million by 2015. Asia medical tourism market is expected to double by 2015 from its current market in 2011. Out of seven countries, three countries, Thailand, India, and Singapore, are expected to control more than 80% of the market share in 2015. India was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of medical tourism. From the year 2009 to 2011, the number of medical tourists in India had grown by 30%. It is estimated that by the year 2015, India will receive nearly half a million medical tourists annually. [5]

Dental tourism in India is presently at a blossoming stage, but has enormous potential for future growth and development, which would improve the economic and social status of the society. India offers world-class treatment at highly affordable prices in comparison to Western countries. The Indian healthcare industry is growing at a very fast pace and it is expected that the sector will touch US$ 238.76 billion by 2020. According to the Investment Commission of India, medical industry has experienced remarkable growth of 12% per year during the last 4 years, due to an increase in the average life expectancy, average income levels, and rising awareness for health insurance among consumers. India's medical tourism sector is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 30%, making it a Rs. 9500 crore industry by 2015. [6]

   Dental Tourism Top

The phenomenon of cross-border dental care is known as "dental tourism." [7],[8] Dental tourism is the trend of combining vacation tour along with dental treatment away from home. Dental tourism companies advertise "all-inclusive" vacation packages, which include dental treatment, hotel room reservations, airline tickets, and trips to tourist attractions. [8],[9] Nowadays there is an increasing number of dental patients crossing national borders to obtain dental care at a low cost in comparison to their own country. [1],[2] Americans visit nearby Mexican border towns such as Ciudad Juarez, Los Algodones, Nogales, and Tijuana. Australians fly to Thailand and people from England, Ireland, and Wales travel to Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, and Poland. [8],[9]

The Indian healthcare sector has come a long way and has witnessed a robust growth in the past few years on the background of increasing healthcare campaign, increasing medical insurance coverage, rising income levels, and a rise in medical and dental tourism. As the cost and waiting time for dental treatment has increased in developed countries, many people search for an effective and reliable alternative path as a bypass to expensive private dental health care in their home country. [10] Moreover, when patients return to their home country with satisfied dental treatment they receive elsewhere, "word of mouth" promotion triggers other patients to consider traveling for dental treatment. [7] Traveler's Guide to Safe Dental Care by the Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (www.osap.org), the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (www.iamat.org), and the ADA's online resource, "Dental Care Away From Home" at www.ada.org/public/manage/care/index.asp, help patients make informed choices. [9]

Growth in dental tourism in India is totally dependent on the quality of dental treatment in metropolitan cities, which should be as good as anywhere else in the world at one-eighth to one-fifth cheaper rates when compared to the Western countries. [11] Around the world, education, training, accreditation and licensing of dentists, and quality of dental services provided by them are highly variable. Despite these risks, dental tourists explore through internet to find dental tourism companies and international clinics advertising dental vacations. [7]

Dental tourists who choose to seek dental care while vacationing in a less-developed nation should inquire in advance about dental education, training, credentialing, and quality of care. A well-informed patient is in a better position to make a well-informed decision. [7] Dentists, dental associations, and the government must stress on the social, ethical, economic, and legal dimensions of dental tourism. The boom of dental tourism highlights that dental services should be covered under public health insurance plans, employer-provided dental plans, or a combination of public and private health insurance programs to enhance dental care for the low-income group for whom dental treatment is an "out-of-pocket" expense. [8]

   Initiatives for Dental Tourism in India Top

  1. Tie-up with international tourism agencies.
  2. Opening of branch or centers for high-tech dental and medical healthcare facilities.
  3. Promotion and participation of dental tourism at international fairs.
  4. Arrange through travel agents who provide information and guidance to foreign patients.
  5. Make living and travel arrangements for sightseeing along with dental treatment.
  6. Website of tourism department highlighting dental tourism, facilitating word of mouth from old patients.
  7. Rules for visa permission should be simplified without any delay for dental treatment.
  8. Reduction in dental insurance-related problems.
  9. Risk of legal actions related to consumer satisfaction should be taken into consideration.
  10. Getting incentives relating to foreign exchange earnings. [7],[8],[9]

   Advantages of Dental Tourism in India Top

  1. Eco-friendly environment.
  2. Top quality dental healthcare services at an affordable cost.
  3. High-end medical and dental healthcare facilities.
  4. Opportunity to club health and vacations.
  5. Expert team of professional doctors.
  6. Hospitals give all dental and medical consultancies under one roof, offering world-class treatments.
  7. 100% Trustworthy.
  8. 100% Success rate.
  9. India has a large pool of doctors, nurses, and paramedics with the required specialization and expertise and the English language advantage
  10. India has a 5000-year-old civilization and is known for its cultural and religious diversity with diverse geographical landmarks - tourism attractions
  11. India offers not just treatment, but also spiritual and mental healing by alternative healing therapies like yoga, naturopathy, ayurveda, etc.
  12. No waiting for dental and medical treatment [1],[3],[4]
India is one of the most favorite tourist destinations due to its vast cultural and religious heritage and varied natural attractions. Healthcare tourism causes amalgamation of abroad vacations with a broad spectrum of medical and dental healthcare services. Medical and dental tourism is a new form of a niche tourism market which has been booming in the recent years as a powerful ingredient of both economic and social change. India has great potential for dental health tourism which is emerging as a major industry of the Indian economy, contributing substantially to foreign exchange earnings and serving as a potential generator of employment opportunities.


Medical and dental tourism is the world's largest industry and creator of jobs across international, national, and regional spheres. India is a vast ocean of ancient rich Vedic culture of traditional art and dance, along with tremendous alternative forms of medicine to attract foreign tourist arrivals at a faster pace. Dental tourism boom can be achieved by integrating vacations along with dental care at reputed dental and medical hubs, based on the synergy between private and public sectors. The government must encourage private investment to develop infrastructure which is crucial to achieve dental tourism boom, while adhering to the principles and practices of sustainability and it is monitored on a regular basis to achieve quality.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Bhadu SS. Opportunities and challenges of medical and health tourism - Creating a brand of alternative tourism in India. Int J Market Tech 2011;19:32-41.  Back to cited text no. 1
Dawn SK, Pal S. Medical tourism in India: Issues, opportunities and designing strategies for growth and development. Int J Multidiscip Res 2011;1:185-202.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kaur J, Sundar HG, Vaidya D, Bhargava S. Health Tourism in India Growth and Opportunities. Part V - HealthCare and Marketing. Proceedings of the International Marketing Conference on Marketing and Society; 2007 Apr 08-10; Kozhikode: IIMK; 2007. p. 415-22.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cherukara JM, Manalel J. Medical Tourism in Kerala - Challenges and Scope. Part IX - Medical Tourism. Proceedings of the Conference on Tourism in India - Challenges Ahead; 2008 May 15-17; Lucknow: IIML; 2008. p. 369-79.  Back to cited text no. 4
Mary SS. Medical Tourism in Asia - An Overview. Scholars World- Int Refereed Multidiscip J Contemp Res 2014;2:131-6.   Back to cited text no. 5
Sharma A. Medical tourism: Emerging challenges and future prospects. Int J Bus Manage Invent 2013;2:21-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
Turner L. Cross-border dental care: 'Dental tourism' and patient mobility. Br Dent J 2008;204:553-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Turner L. "Dental tourism": Issues surrounding cross-border travel for dental care. J Can Dent Assoc 2009;75:117-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
Asai RG, Jones KD Jr. Am I obligated to treat a patient whose need for emergency care stems from dental tourism? J Am Dent Assoc 2007;138:1018-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
Gopal R. The Key Issues and Challenges in Medical Tourism Sector in India (A Hospital Perspective) Part IX - Medical Tourism. Proceedings of the Conference on Tourism in India - Challenges Ahead. Vol. 15; 2008 May 15-17; Lucknow: IIML; 2008. p. 331-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
Ahuja NK, Parmar R. Demographics and current scenario with respect to dentists, dental institutions and dental practices in India. Indian J Dent Sci 2011;3:8-11.  Back to cited text no. 11


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