Ten Years of Dental Tourism to Hungary

Pop-up Dentistry 2008

Its 10 years since Hungarian Dental Travel hit the front pages of national and local newspapers with the innovative idea of a pop-up dental surgery touring the UK.

This unique happening was a once off to demonstrate the quality of the Hungarian dentists and the tremendous savings available. Hundreds of UK patients had assessments in Lincoln, Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Stockport, Manchester, and Newcastle.

Back in 2008, the UK was still reeling from the effects on NHS dental provision of the new contract imposed on dentists in 2006, but it is clear from the governments own statistics that the situation has not really changed since then.

In the two years to 31 December 2017, 22.1 million adults were seen by an NHS dentist in England (50.9% of the population) compared to 19.7 million in 2008 (49% of the population).

NHS dentistry 2018

The headline figures mask a huge variation of provision with some London boroughs and parts of Southern England seeing fewer than 40% of adults visiting an NHS dentist. The local authority with the highest percentage of adults seeing a dentist is South Tyneside at over 80%.

Whether this means that adults in South Tyneside look after their teeth twice as well as adults in Surrey or for some other reason, we will not speculate.


Local Authority %Adults
South Tyneside 80.1
Kingston upon Hull, City of 69.3
Middlesbrough 67.5
Doncaster 67.5
Sefton 64.7
St. Helens 64.6
Bournemouth 64.4
Wakefield 63.9
Cheshire West and Chester 63.0
Barnsley 62.8

If you have to pay for your treatment you are 3 times less likely to undergo a more complex procedure (band 3) with an NHS dentist than someone who does not have to pay for their treatment. How much is spent by UK adults on private dental treatment is not entirely clear but we’ve seen estimates over £2 billion per annum.

Growth of dental tourism to Hungary

Has the continued high cost of private dental treatment in the UK fuelled a rise in the number of people travelling to Hungary in the last ten years?

It is hard to say of course, but there is no question that there are around twice the number of people flying from the UK to Budapest compared to 10 years ago.

Since dental tourism is a huge draw for visitors, its certainly reasonable to speculate that more and more people who are not eligible for NHS dental treatment or who need treatment which is not available on the NHS anyway, are choosing to take advantage of the much wider choice of airlines to visit Hungary and get their teeth done at the same time.

In 2008 when Hungarian Dental Travel was busy promoting dental tourism to Hungary as a relatively new and adventurous option, there were only six airports in the UK with direct flights, whereas there are now 13.

Almost half of all UK passengers flying to Budapest now fly from two airports: Luton and Stansted.

In April 2018, according to Skyscanner.net, it was possible to fly from Stansted to Budapest return for as little as £41. That is less than the cost of an adult dental consultation in my local dental surgery, which it has to be said is not located in one of the most interesting and alluring capitals in Europe!

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