Dental tourism and dental health


Philippine dentistry has come a long way since the early Filipinos had been practicing a crude version of dentistry pre-Spanish colonization in the 1500s. In fact, dental tourism has been a booming industry with foreigners and balikbayans choosing the Filipino dentists’ world-class skills and services combined with their much cheaper rates.

We all know dentists and orthodontists, but did you know we have some of the best prosthodontists in Asia? As there are only less than 200 registered members of the Philippine Prosthodontics Society (PPS) this specialized group has been under the radar of “pop culture” dentistry. A prosthodontist is a dentist who specializes with the replacement of missing teeth and related mouth or jaw structures by bridges, dentures or prostheses. To be specialized in this field, prosthodontists must first receive an additional three years of training after dental school, and that is probably why there are only 3,500 prosthodontists in the United States. In the 2019 data of, prosthodontics ranks as the eighth best paying job in the US. It is no short feat then that the PPS is set to host the 13th Biennial Congress of the Asian Academy of Prosthodontics on Aug. 25-27, 2022 where renowned experts in the field, from industrial speakers in the international arena to Filipino experts led by Dr. Adrian Carlos Manaloto, are set to share their expertise in different fields of this three-day virtual conference.

“It is actually an honor for the Philippines to host a prestigious event which only happens every two years. This also means the global dentistry community has truly recognized the skills of our Filipino dentists and we are at par with our international counterparts,” Dr. Manaloto says.

Manaloto, who finished his studies from the prestigious Korea University, could have easily pursued a much high paying job in Seoul where plastic surgery including teeth care have been lucrative businesses, chose to practice in the Philippines seeing the niche here is yet to be filled then and now.

But while we are advancing in the dental field as evidenced by the Philippines hosting a specialized international convention, oral disease continues to be a serious public health problem. Dr. Shirley Mosende, dental office chief of the Department of Health said that tooth decay and gum disease experienced by around 87 percent of Filipinos should be given much attention.

This public health problem has oftentimes been overlooked, but as Senator Sonny Angara recognized, this problem, as minor as it may appear to be, can lead to more serious consequences including loss of productivity. Not only do most Filipinos fear the actual tooth procedures, but the high costs of dental care.

“I filed Senate Bill 962 and called for the creation of a dental unit in every health center under the supervision of the DOH as part of the country’s primary health care approach,” Angara said.
Hopefully, this will be followed by other legislative efforts to fill in the gaps in the comprehensive national health system including ensuring and promoting the dental health of every Filipino.

In fact, aside from teeth problems, research has linked diseases of the gums to other health problems including heart complications, strokes, and respiratory issues.

While a few can afford specialists and we pat our backs as we now have dentists who are at par with international practitioners, multi-sectoral efforts must continue to see this issue not merely at the surface level of “brightening one’s smile,” but see it as a serious matter which can lead to further complications if left unaddressed.