In Argentina, cosmetic dental and ophthalmic procedures, such as dentures, veneers, dental implants and laser eye surgery, are all fairly common, and there is a relatively high demand for them. Therefore, the standard of care in both sectors is considered to be very good. However, there are issues in the accessibility and distribution of these services per capita.
Argentina has a large number of practising dentists, however they are disproportionately distributed throughout the country. For example, data shows that, in 2017, the central region of Argentina had 35,278 practising dentists, whereas the poor northern regions only had 4,042.
The standard of dental care in Argentina is very high, even in the smaller towns. However, expatriates often struggle to find English-speaking dentists outside of the major cities. The cost of dental work in Argentina is considerably cheaper than it is in the USA, and also in many parts of Europe. In some cases, certain types of dental work may be partially subsidised, or even free, on Argentinian public healthcare. If you intend to get dental work done in Argentina on your private health insurance, double check what is covered first. Many policy providers have a cap on the costs they will cover for dental work, and some still limit cover to emergency procedures only.
Due to the comparatively low cost of dental procedures in Argentina, the country has seen an influx in medical and dental tourism. This in turn has attracted more professionals, and has created a demand for more advanced facilities. The upturn of more establishments has generated some healthy competition amongst providers, which benefits the public, as it leads to lower prices.
A helpful resource for finding dentists and dental clinics in Argentina is the Global Clinic Rating (GCR) website. You can visit it here.
Despite the low cost of dental care compared to that in many other countries around the world, it is still not accessible to everyone. There are desperately poor communities in the slum areas of Buenos Aires, where the extent of tooth decay in many of the children was affecting their ability to eat, talk, or even smile. A charity known as Todos Juntos was founded by a woman named Fiona Watson to provide free dental treatments for these children.
The company has so far funded Argentinian dentists to perform around 35,000 dental procedures for underprivileged children. They also run oral health workshops in schools, distribute toothpaste and toothbrushes, and offer one-to-one hygiene sessions. They now operate three Sonrisa (smile) clinics in Buenos Aires, providing free dental care.
Argentina ranked very high in a report on dental decay conducted by FDI World Dental, with 80% or more six- to 19-year-olds suffering from some form of dental decay.
The profession of optometry is relatively new in Argentina, with the first optometry school (Centro Especializado Para la Enseñanza de las Ciencias y las Artes) only having been established in 1992. There are roughly 4,000 ophthalmologists, 90 optometrists, and 3,000 to 5,000 opticians in Argentina. Ophthalmologists are disproportionately distributed, with the vast majority of them found in the city of Buenos Aires and the surrounding region.
According to an ODI.org report in 2018, Argentina ranked among the top 20 countries for having the highest unmet need for vision correction. The report estimated that 17 million people throughout Argentina required but could not get access to the eye care and/or glasses that they needed.
The eye care industry has been steadily growing in Argentina. This could be due to a number of reasons. As with many other countries around the world, Argentina has become home to an ageing population, with the number of people aged 65 and over standing at just over 5 million in 2019. This number is expected to continue rising, and it’s estimated that it will potentially reach 6 million by 2024.
One of the most recognisable ophthalmic institutes in Argentina is the Instituto Zaldivar, founded by ophthalmologist and surgeon Dr Zaldívar. Dr Zaldívar is considered one of the world’s most innovative and successful eye specialists. His facility sees around 4,000 patients a month come through the doors.
Another contributing factor to the increased demand could be the pollution in Argentina’s major cities. Most common eye conditions in cities are often caused by air pollution and smog. Such conditions can include anything from dry, itchy eyes to excessively watery eyes, swelling, redness, burning sensations in one or both eyes, and blurry vision.
Our modern lifestyles can also be to blame, as we more often use computers, tablets and smartphones, and this can cause a significant strain on our eyes.
There are various resources that you can use to find ophthalmology clinics in Argentina, including Global Clinic Rating (GCR). You can visit their website here.
In conclusion, high-end luxury facilities for both dental and ophthalmic care are in high demand in Argentina, and you should be able to find them fairly easily. However, it is unclear how much cover the public health system will provide for such services. There are issues with accessibility and uneven distribution, as well as with socioeconomic and class factors. The poorer classes, even in larger cities, often lack the education and funds to prevent tooth decay in their children, who carry the problems with them into adulthood.
If you are an expatriate, you should thoroughly check the cover of your private health insurance policies, to see whether dental and ophthalmic care routine appointments and treatment are included, or whether you are covered for emergency procedures only. Also, ascertain whether there is a cap on your dental treatment cover, as some providers will only pay costs up to a fixed amount.