Tourism of Another Kind
Beyond trekking, paragliding and bungee jumping, Nepal now offers another tourist attraction – dental surgery.
Clinics that specialize in minimally invasive dental procedures have gained popularity in Kathmandu.
One may think that in a world where almost everything has a price tag attached to it, a smile is one of the few things that are free. It doesn’t cost a penny to curve one’s lips into the universal, heart-warming language of smiles that doesn’t need to follow a particular semantic. A smile is lovely whether it is crooked or straight, shy or open, broken or joyful.
At least that is what you would think until you came across a poster listing the ‘cost of a smile’ in terms of a tooth crown costing this and this much and teeth whitening costing this and this much, etc.
The term ‘a million-dollar smile’ seems to have been taken quite literally as cosmetic dental surgery gains popularity across the world. One such place where it has become increasingly popular is Nepal and more specifically the capital, Kathmandu.
While for some people, fixing their teeth might be enough, for a large number, cosmetic dental surgery is a must for achieving perfection in the looks department.
As Sushil Koirala, an internationally acclaimed dental surgeon from Nepal, points out, cosmetic dentistry goes stars and brides-to-be – aspires to achieve the confidence that comes with having that ‘perfect’ smile.
Clinics that specialize in minimally invasive dental procedures have gained a lot of popularity in Kathmandu. Such procedures do away with the discomfort and inconvenience of having to wear braces and are said to be suitable for both the young and the old alike.
With procedures such as full- beyond just enhancing beauty and actually has a positive psychological impact. A smile reflects more than just well-being and inner happiness.
A ‘dazzling’ smile can prove a powerful accessory that adds to one’s self-confidence and, in Nepal, everyone – from politicians to beauty pageant participants to television mouth reconstruction and smile enhancement, cosmetic dental surgery has changed entire personalities and given people the much-needed confidence boost. One such person whose life was changed by cosmetic surgery is Nepalese Maoist politician Narayan Shrestha.
He had a gap in his front teeth
and would smile infrequently. After getting the gap removed through dental surgery he is now seen smiling more often. In a statement given to a Nepalese publication, he said about cosmetic dental surgery, “It has changed my personality. People say my smile looks much better.’
The popularity of cosmetic surgery in Nepal is not limited to the local population only. Foreigners are also visiting the country in large numbers to take advantage of the low-cost procedures and return to their homelands with a brand-new smile and a brand-new attitude to complement it.
It is, therefore, no surprise that medical schools in Nepal face a high demand for degrees in dental medicine. It is a growing industry that has the potential of generating huge amounts of foreign currency as dental tourism takes off in the country.
Kathmandu has some of the finest, state-of-the-art dental clinics that offer quality dental care under trained professionals who get the job done for less than half of what one would pay in a western country.
Every year many tourists visit Nepal to trek, paraglide, bungee jump and to absorb its rich culture. Cost-effective dental surgery is adding to Nepal’s repertoire of tourism attraction as tourists can get an array of high-quality dental services at affordable rates.
Some of these services include white fillings which cost around $7-9, porcelain inlays which cost $50 due to their long-lasting results, crowns which cost $80 and root canal therapy which costs a mere $40. All of these services would cause a drain on the average person’s pocket anywhere else in the world. This gives Nepal a great competitive advantage in dental tourism.
The extent to which dental tourism is becoming popular in the country can be gauged from the numerous dental spas and clinics that have sprung up in Kathmandu. Their marketing efforts are geared mainly towards attracting tourists. Many of them have customized websites highlighting their modern facilities and professionalism.
The introduction on the homepage of the website of one such provider of dental services shows just how developed, widespread and marketable the industry has become: ‘…has been serving the foreign missions, tourists, diplomats, UN staff and expatriate communities along with local Nepalese patients with a commitment to provide the care, that is of an International Gold Standard.’
These convincing words are followed by a detailed list of prices for various services along with the names and qualifications of all the dentists who work for the clinic.
Testimonials given by satisfied patients, a lot of whom are celebrities in various fields and tourists from far and wide, are also posted.
This shows that Nepal’s dental clinics are thriving. They are likely to gain more popularity and clientele should they continue to provide dental treatment in a safe and hygienic environment that matches up to international standards but without the exorbitant charges that characterize much of the global dentistry today.