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Best Country For Dental Tourism: Croatia
If you have been following me on Instagram, you already know that I’m over the moon delighted with my new pearly white veneers that I recently had done in Croatia.
Well, my dental veneers are not actually white as I chose a veneer color that was more natural looking – but damn, I LOVE how they look and have never ever taken this many selfies in my life!
If you missed any of my social media posts over the last few weeks let me catch you up. In January I went to the Poliklinika Bagatin dental clinic in Zagreb to discuss getting dental veneers with my Croatian dentist Dr. Marin Radić.
I have hated my crooked-snaggleteeth my whole life. I had a missing tooth on the top row, and the canine tooth in its place always stood out too much, and even though I had it filed down some years ago – I learned to smile for photographs with my lips sealed shut or to turn my head so you could not see my teeth easily – I have done that for as long as I can recall.
I also avoided being on screen in my Instagram feed or in blog photos as all I could see when I looked at photos of myself, were my awful teeth and small lips.
As a teen, the dentist told me that I needed braces to correct both rows of teeth that were glaringly crooked, but my family was unable to afford them.
In Australia, you have to pay for all dental work (unlike Croatia) as it’s not covered by any state health plans. So, I did my best to brush my teeth, get regular professional cleanings and look after them as best as I could.
In my mid 20’s when I had my own disposable income, I toyed with the idea of getting braces, my teeth had always been a hindrance to my self-confidence, but I told myself it was too indulgent. I spent the money investing in property instead.
Even though I learned to smile with a closed mouth or show just a small portion of the top row of teeth, I had always dreamt about the day I could fix my teeth. You know like when you win the lotto?
It wasn’t until I turned 40, that getting dental work became a reality. When I had no mortgage payment, owned my car and had a little extra money to pamper myself. A (dental) dream come true.
Dental Tourism In Croatia
With the rise of dental tourism, there are lots of people now looking for the cheapest dentist in Europe, and that has meant that there are many new clinics opening their doors every year.
You need to be extremely careful who you choose – you’re putting your health in the hands of these companies after all.
Here in Croatia, we are lucky to have one of the very best dental clinics in Europe right on our doorstep, and they’ve recently opened a new clinic in Split!
I decided to travel from my home base in Zadar to Zagreb which is just three hours away as I wanted to go to the Bagatin Clinic (one of the best in the country for dental tourism) to see what could be done.
I knew from having met the owner Ognjen, and some of his team in the past year, that everyone at the clinic spoke perfect English, that they had a great reputation of being leaders in dental treatments in Croatia, and Europe.
At my first appointment, I was a bit freaked out.
Okay, I lie – I was totally freaking out – I have always hated going to the dentist – and I have a huge gag reflex. My minor fear of dentists meant that in the 5 years that I have lived in Croatia – I had not been to a dentist in Croatia.
In Australia, I used to visit the dentist every 6-12 months for a clean and check-up, but here in Croatia, I was too shy, too scared and a tad overwhelmed when it came to finding a quality dentist in Dalmatia.
Oh dear, what a mistake that was – after a few minutes into the consultation Dr. Radić pointed out I had several cavities that needed addressing. Oops, note to self never leave it that long again!
Dr. Radić was so sweet and patient. I felt comfortable with him, even though my palms were sweating and my heart was racing for no real reason. I just have some silly dental phobia.
He and I spoke about my dental work options – braces were still an option – but at age 40, I did not want to get braces – and my teeth were chipped and stained, so I felt that getting dental veneers would be a better fit.
Dr. Radić suggested getting 14 veneers – as that was the number of teeth you see when I smile – a proper wide smile.
I learned that getting veneers for my teeth required grinding those 14 teeth to make space necessary to attach the veneers. He also explained in his calm soothing tone, that veneers are not permanent – that they need replacing after approximately 10 years. Sometimes less, sometimes more.
During the consultation, I also heard about some of the mild discomforts I should expect, the timings, the estimated process and was given lots of time to ask questions.
I was giddy with excitement as I left thinking about the possibility of having a white and straight smile, but also nervous to commit.
I left saying, I needed to think about when would be a good time to do it – as it would mean 5-7 days of work at the dental center in Zagreb. I’d need to make arrangements for my children and ensure that my husband was available that week to care for them.
During the drive back to Zadar, I made up my mind.
I wanted to proceed and spent a few days when I was home, figuring out the best dates to go back to Zagreb to get the veneers.
As a medical traveler, you might be in the research phase looking at which dental clinics in Croatia are reputable – and will also be cost effective. Let me tell you now, the costs of all dental treatment in Croatia are low when you compare them to Western Europe, Australia, and the United States etc.
The savings you can make are astronomical when you compare Croatia dental treatment costs as opposed to your home country. I’ll explain the savings I made below.
Since moving to Croatia almost 6 years ago, Zagreb tourism has been on the up & up – so once I was booked in and had my dental plan schedule, I was rather excited to spend the week in Zagreb exploring – even if I was also scared (as a mouse in a house full of cats) about the treatment.
Instead of thinking about the pain, I was focusing on all of the international food on offer in Zagreb that we lack in Zadar.
Nervously I sat through my breakfast, trying to not think about the appointment. Which was listed in my itinerary as ‘tooth grinding’. It sounded awful.
All through breakfast all I could imagine was the vibrations of that tooth grinding device. I was envisioning it to be shrill and loud.
In the elevator heading up to the 10th-floor offices of the Bagatin Clinic, (which is above the Double Tree Hilton), I was wondering if I had the balls to see this through.
I arrived at the clinic, where the sweet receptionists took my coat and offered me coffee. I declined, I felt sick with nerves. I needed a stiff drink, not caffeine. And, anyone who knows me can tell you, that I never say no to coffee. My palms were sweaty and I felt dizzy.
I sat looking out the window overlooking Zagreb, telling myself I was in good hands and that all would be well. Then thankfully Tea arrived – her sweet nature calmed me instantly and I asked her a million questions about her, just to distract myself.
I sat there and focused on the panoramic view of Zagreb from the huge glass window opposite me.
Then came time. Vedrana, the dental nurse came to collect me. I fumbled with my bag, and slowly followed her to the huge white room, and sat in the dental chair.
Heart beating out of my chest, Dr. Radić was there, smiling and asking me about how I was feeling if I had any questions. Then we got to business.
He once again explained the procedure, what to expect today and the coming days and during my return home. I signed all the paperwork – and then it began.
First came the molds. The team made several types of molds of my mouth and teeth – this is not at all painful, though slightly uncomfortable having a mouth full of plaster-type material. It only lasts a few minutes for each one.
Molds done, then came the grinding.
Surprisingly, it was not at all painful (thanks to the pain meds) and the sound was a mild hum, not the offensive ear-splitting sound I had imagined the grinding to be in my head.
I listened to the soft music and kept my eyes closed trying to follow along as the grinding continued.
After 30 minutes of grinding, we were done for the day. A temporary tooth fixture was set in place so that I did not leave looking like a freak show.
I could hardly believe it was so easy. I laughed to myself how worried I had been.
I awoke, having slept so much better than the previous night. I enjoyed my breakfast and even managed to get my hair blowdried. You know when you have no kids in tow, you have so much more time!
I set off to the clinic in a great mood – knowing what to expect, I just knew today was going to be easy.
And it was. Dr. Radic ground the remaining teeth, again no pain and just some minor discomfort as I had to keep my mouth wide open.
Grinding finished, more molds were made and then temporary teeth were attached with some adhesive – and I set off to explore Zagreb.
Though, once I started shopping, I realized I could not speak. My mouth was numb and I sounded silly.
So embarrassed, I went back to my hotel room with my Chinese lunch and worked on my laptop from my hotel room.
A complete rest day for me. This is the day that the team are crafting the dental veneers.
After all, one of the best reasons to take a dental vacation and get your dental work done abroad – other than the massive savings to be made – is to explore a new area! Am I right?
Oh, I was disappointed today as my top set of veneers were meant to be fitted, however, after the trial fitting the team identified a couple of minor changes that were required – and instead, I left with a new set of temporary teeth which looked so realistic it’s amazing.
I won’t lie, I was hugely unsatisfied at first as I had dinner plans with two friends and so badly wanted to show them!
Then after a short while I realized that this is just a sign of how great the dentists are at Poliklinika Bagatin – they won’t accept anything less than the best.
If you are planning a set amount of time to be in Zagreb (or elsewhere) for your dental treatment, it’s a good idea to keep flexible in your plans. As you may also find you need to stay longer and or rework your plans depending on the type of dental activity taking place.
I rolled out of bed today with a giant leap! I knew for sure that I was leaving with my top row of veneers fitted. And, I was praying that the bottom row would also go in. Dr. Radić had explained it would be a possibility – though he said I may also need to come again the following week.
After Dr. Radić fitted in my top row – I was a little teary. I looked so different. In a good way of course – though staring back at my reflection in the mirror (and later looking at the 5872855 selfies I took on my phone) I could not believe just how much a new set of teeth could change your face – I was beyond thrilled.
The excitement of the top row done was compounded when Dr. Radić said we could take a short break and then he’d also have time to fit the bottom row.
Buzzing, I glady sat through over 4.5 hours of work in the dental chair, just so I could leave Zagreb and go back to Zadar to see my family – and show them my new smile.
Doing both the top and bottom row of teeth (14 in total) is not a usual occurrence – and unless you are super short on time, I would not recommend it.
Sitting with your mouth wide open and having the veneers fitted in for that long, is a little too long. Though there was (almost) no pain – thanks to plenty of painkiller injections.
Once all 14 teeth were in, Dr. Radić began to polish the teeth and clear away the excess cement.
With my new smile complete, I was able to head back to Zadar. Dr. Radić advised me that I need to come back for a check-up in 7 days** and that he also would like to replace 2 veneers as he was not 100% satisfied with how they look.
**Note at this stage, I have not been back. Though it’s been more than 7 days, it has been too hard for me to leave my children and return to Zagreb as we have all taken turns at being sick and I had several work commitments already booked. I plan to have the last few corrections made within the next month. At that stage, I will also include the final before and after photos so you can see the 100% final dental treatment outcome.
Before And After Dental Work
Enough chit-chat, let’s see some pics!
As well as my own before and after photos, I also asked Poliklinika Bagatin to share a few before and after photos from other patients (the patients have given permission for us to use them).
My New Teeth
Client Testimonial: First of all, THANK YOU for ALL you did to assist Randi and I in our trip to Croatia to have the dental work done at the Clinic. You played a most significant role in making our trip a very memorable one. I am used to having to do all my own arrangements when traveling internationally, so you spoiled me by being so efficient and helpful with all the details. I was able to relax and enjoy the experience. That is saying allot when I was in the dentist chair 6 of the 10 days we were in Croatia. Relaxation and dental work do not normally go in the same sentence.
Client Testimonial: In December of 2017, I traveled to Poliklinika Bagatin in Zagreb with a dear friend in need of serious dental work. Bagatin’s communication before the trip was superb, making us feel like it was the best possible option. The clinic did not fail to impress, with brand new facilities, state-of-the-art technology, and caring, dedicated staff. While the work my friend needed was intensive, we consistently felt like we were in good hands. This level of care would have been inaccessible to us in the US. Overall, after seven days, my friend came out with a full smile makeover and a new lease on life. This trip was so monumental to both of us that we documented every stage of it. When my friend was told he needed dentures at age 42, he thought the situation was hopeless. His insurance in the US only covered dentures and anything outside of that would have taken 1-2 years worth of appointments and over $25,000 USD out of pocket, though his teeth were salvageable. (Bagatin cost was $7800USD)
Benefits Of Traveling Abroad For Your Dental Work
Let’s face it, whoever said going to the dentist was fun? No one. But we have to go – however, did you know there are very good reasons to travel abroad for dental work?
Vacation At The Same Time
The oh-so-meh, experience of seeing the dentist can also be intertwined into a fun and exciting vacation in Croatia.
Croatia is headed towards being the best country for dental tourism in Europe, and during my 5 days of dental work, I managed to see the sights of Zagreb with ease and could have seen a lot more if I did not have work deadlines pre-committed.
I didn’t go as I have been several times, but from Zagreb, you can easily head to Plitvice Lakes or travel around the Zagreb or beyond in your downtime.
If you’re at the Split office of Poliklinika Bagatin, you could head to Zadar, Krka Waterfalls or even Dubrovnik when you’re not getting dental work done.
Money, Money, Money!
Other than travel, and I would say the main motivating factor to get your teeth fixed in Croatia – is to save money.
Croatia as a medical tourism destination is on the rise – and I am sure cost savings are going to only increase. And, trust me, there are already enormous cost savings to be made. Especially if you compare dental costs in Croatia against the costs in America and Australia. In fact, Italians and Germans have been coming for dental work in Croatia to save money for decades.
How Much Is Dental Treatment In Croatia?
The full cost of my dental treatment in Croatia was €5200. For the same 14 veneers, the cost in Australia would vary depending on the state and clinic, but it would be around €12,000-€17000 – so I saved at least €6800 up to around €11800
You can see the average cost of dental at the below links
Of course, your dentist may charge much more or less than these links, but it really gives you an idea of the huge savings to be made.
I traveled from Zadar, but even if I still lived in Australia – and purchased a plane ticket from Australia to Croatia, and booked accommodation for the week in Zagreb (I paid €400 for 5 nights at Hotel Dubrovnik on the main square) I still would have saved between €4000 and €8000. That’s a very sizeable sum!
I had several social media readers tell me they were looking for a dental implant vacation or researching the best place for dental tourism, or a root canal cost in Croatia – or queries of that nature and I was shocked at how many people already knew about these savings.
You can see some for yourself below:
The Bagatin Clinic have several package options to help you save even more money. As an example, if your dental treatment costs are over €5000, they will arrange your airport transfers, several nights accommodation and you won’t have to pay for x-rays.
World Class Standards
The other benefit of coming to Croatia for your veneers, crowns etc is the technology. Bagatin clinic use only the best brands. As an example for dental implants, they use Straumann one of the best brands worldwide and ICX – both of which come with a lifetime warranty.
Bagatin is also ISO 9001 accredited, and are in the process of finalizing the TEMOS accreditation (Excellence in Medical Tourism and Quality in International Patient Care).
If the list of treatments on offer and Bagatin’s reputation doesn’t persuade you, then perhaps the awards they have won will. If you’re someone like me, who likes to look at clinics that have won awards, then Bagatin also delivers:
- Last year the Bagatin Clinic won an award for ‘Full Mouth Reconstruction Treatment’. The award was handed out by an American platform called ‘Dental Implants Friends’ and gives recognition to the achievements of dental clinics and their leading dentists globally
- Also, Poliklinika Bagatin won the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) award for “International Cosmetic Surgery Clinic Of The Year“
- Najdoktor.com also awarded their doctors as amongst some of the best in the country
The Bagatin team have a dedicated medical tourism department with two patient coordinators who will take care of everything you might need before traveling and during your time in Croatia.
The medical tourism department of Bagatin can help you find flights, arrange accommodation, and if you want to go sightseeing, they can help make those arrangements also.
And, the same team are at your disposal while you’re in Croatia for whatever you might need.
Why Should You Trust Poliklinika Bagatin Clinic For Your Dental Work In Croatia
The Bagatin Clinic is a renowned dentistry and cosmetic procedures clinic. They have two offices in Zagreb, and a new office recently opened in Split.
Poliklinika Bagatin, is a quality clinic for cosmetic surgery and dentistry and dates back to 2002, founded by Dr. Mario Bagatin. The clinic has grown in size quickly over the years and was passed down to the sons of Dr. Bagatin after his passing.
Bagatin Clinic doesn’t just offer the very best dentistry and cosmetic procedures, all undertaken by highly qualified and experienced staff, but they also offer luxurious five-star service, meaning that from the moment you walk through the door, to the moment you leave, you’re in the safest and most comfortable hands.
Croatia is one of the best dental tourism destinations and is a fast-growing business sector, so be sure to do your research on the clinic before booking. I totally rate my experience with Poliklinika Bagatin 5 stars, and here are some of the reasons why:
Leading Brand Materials: One example is the use of Straumann which comes with a lifetime warranty.
Cutting-Edge Medical Technology: Modern dental offices and the use of world-class equipment
ISO 9001 Accredited: One of the most important ISO standards for dental clinics. It’s an International quality standard for quality management systems.
Award Winning – Having won several awards, you know that your teeth are in good hands.
Choice Of Location: As well as the Zagreb office, you can now also choose to head south. Earlier this year, a new Bagatin clinic opened in Split. With more and more flights to Dalmatia, this means that you can choose your preferred place to vacay and get your dental work done at either location.
Chasing the Donkey Approved: One of the reasons I chose Bagatin Clinic was that I knew that they had high patient volumes, which means that they have experienced and skilled technicians who are then more likely to provide better results. And indeed they did!
I mean, it is possible that I would have had the same results at another clinic. Though I had got to know the owner of the clinic and had met some of his team.
I did a site visit with the super friendly head of the Medical Tourism Department at Bagatin – Tea Hitner, having seen the clinic first hand gave me absolute confidence – and I am so pleased I was right in choosing them.
What Dental Work Can Be Done In Croatia
What kind of dental treatments can you book in Croatia? A huge amount!
Some of the dentistry procedures carried out at Bagatin Clinic include:
- Dental implants
- General oral surgery
- Laser teeth whitening and Zoom teeth whitening
- Prosthetic dentures
- Aesthetic fillings
That isn’t an exhaustive list, and given the fact that dentistry procedures are so expensive in other parts of the world, I bet that you’ll be profoundly surprised by Bagatin’s low dental price list.
Before You Come To Croatia For Dental Work
Health tourism in Europe can sound scary; after all, you know what to expect in your home country but not abroad.
But, it need not be scary if you do a little homework to find the best place for dental tourism for your needs.
I can vouch for Poliklinika Bagatin based on my personal experience, but I urge you not to just take my word for it – and look into your individual case: it’s critical that you familiarize yourself about the Bagatin Clinic’s experience and success rate of your specific dental treatment. Which is easy enough to do – merely phone the multilanguage call center or email them and get a conversation started.
Also, in Croatia, the Ministry of Health, Croatian Dental Chamber and the Croatian Medical Chamber regulate the practice of dentistry, so you can contact them on the links below for more information:
If you’re keen to have dental work done in Croatia and want to look at other clinics, it is important that you ask lots of questions. Some you should ask are:
- Do they offer a dental work guarantee?
- What accreditations do they hold?
- What are their most common oral surgery procedures and success rates?
- What cosmetic dentistry abroad packages do they have. ie: free accommodation options?
- Is the cost of painkillers included in the quote?
More Than Just A Dental Clinic In Europe
Croatia is a top medical destination for not only teeth, and the team at Bagatin are not just focused on your teeth. Poliklinika Bagatin also offers a range of cosmetic procedures, including:
- Reviderm skin peel microdermabrasion
- Renew lift
- Med Visage – a popular non-surgical facelift
- Dermapen micro-needling
- Med Contour body shaping
- Laser hair removal
- Laser skin rejuvenation
Bagatin Clinic was awarded the title of Leading Dermatology Clinic in Europe as selected by Global Clinic Rating who are the international accreditation body for medical institutions.
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