Praise For Our Patients Who Travel Far For Their Dental Home

  • by Zeynep Barakat, DMD, FAGD , DMD, FAGD
  • Dec 11, 2017, 15:12 PM
When most of us are considering purchasing a good or service, one of the first things we do is check its price, to base our choice partly on cost and partly on convenience. How we justify cost and convenience depends on multiple factors and is unique to each individual. The distance or time to obtain that good or service is one factor in our decision-making process — hence Amazon’s success. Since we live in a world where we prefer everything to be within easy reach or to be delivered to us directly, how far would any of us travel for our dental care?

That is a difficult question to answer, since naturally the definition of “far” means something different for each of us. We each have a limit to the distance we will travel to see our dentist, and most of us really would prefer our dentist to be near our home or our places of work, thereby making the dental office convenient to access. However, I did notice that many of my patients do travel much farther than others to be treated at our office. I suppose one patient’s 20 minutes is another patient’s 40 minutes. For instance, retired patients who have more time on their hands than patients in the workforce may be able to spare more time to travel to their preferred dental office. Many such patients justify the distance and are willing to drive longer if they find the dental office worthy of the effort.

Some patients will cross country borders and continents to receive their dental treatment. I once recommended a reputable dentist to a good friend on the East Coast, reassuring him that this dentist was conveniently near his home and was an excellent provider. In the end, my friend decided to have his entire dental treatment completed overseas, since it was less expensive than treatment in the United States. So cost outdid convenience in his case.

This is no news to the medical industry. Many patients are willing to travel all over the world for medical procedures either because the treatment is less expensive abroad or because the providers are world-renowned and have a superior reputation. The term used to describe this is “medical tourism.” Though it is not convenient, to say the least, to cover long distances and incur travel costs, the incentive is either to save money or to spend more of it to be seen by the “best.”

As a humble dentist, I would no doubt feel honored if my patients went through hardship to travel long distances just to be treated by me. But I am realistic and realize that the rigors of daily life are difficult enough without having a long-distance dental office to get to. Those patients who continue to spend more time traveling to see us simply because of how well we treat them and the quality of care they receive are indeed very special and ought to be acknowledged. For it may not be convenient for them to reach our office, but they do so because they value us. Let’s praise them for their effort. 
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