Aussie family has annual dental checkups in Bali after shock cost of Australian bills

Aussie family has annual dental checkups in Bali after shock cost of Australian bills
  • PublishedMarch 24, 2024

‘I put off going to the dentist because it was so expensive.’

Despite her top-tier private health cover, Victorian woman Kirstin Edwards was still out of pocket $3500 after a trip to the dentist.

The truth was, she couldn’t afford the exorbitant fees and she often put off going to the dentist to avoid the large bill.

So when she was due for another checkup, she decided to try a new dentist — in Bali.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Kirstin tells 7Life of her first appointment, which coincided with a planned holiday to the popular Indonesian island.

“But after I found out they had training in a developed country, I felt more relaxed.

“And now I would recommend it to anyone.”

The first time Kirstin and her husband Tom visited the Bali dentist, they were picked up from their hotel and driven to the clinic.

The couple both had a checkup, clean and scale before being dropped back to their accommodation.

The bill was just $90.

“I remember the price exactly because they told me my husband’s was $10 more expensive,” Kirstin says.

“They were so apologetic but explained his teeth were dirtier than mine.”

Over the past eight years, the family has been to Bali six times, and on each visit has had various dental treatments.

Now Kirstin says she wouldn’t go to a dentist in Australia.

Kirstin recommends going to Bali for dental appointments.

The entrepreneur came across the idea of having dental work overseas when she was in a queue at Bangkok airport in 2014.

Noticing the gleaming smiles from a couple nearby, Kirstin couldn’t help but spark up a conversation with them.

They explained they had just been to a Thai dentist, and encouraged her to try a dentist overseas next time she needed.

Kirstin never forgot the encounter with the couple but 12 months later, after a visit to an Aussie dentist left her $3500 out of pocket, she decided to take the plunge.

Convincing Tom to go with her, the couple booked a holiday — and dental appointment — in Bali.

Kirstin jumped onto Bali Facebook groups, seeking recommendations for dentists.

After cross referencing the recommendations with reviews on Google, she booked.

When the time came and she was seated in the waiting area of the Balinese dentist’s office, her nerves set in.

On annual Bali holidays, the family always pops in to visit the dentist.

In hindsight, she says she needed not have worried.

“Everything was incredibly clean and modern,” she says, adding the hygienic facilities helped calm her anxiety.

She learnt that both dentists — a husband a wife duo — had received their training and certifications in North America and Singapore.

“Hearing they were trained in a developed country helped me relax too,” she adds.

“The care was fabulous, you don’t feel like a ‘number’, you feel like they genuinely care.”

After settling the $90 bill, the couple not only left with sparkling clean teeth, they were blown away by the first-class care they had received.

At her local dentist, Kirstin claims the bill would have been a few hundred dollars each.

Beyond impressed with their experience, the following year the couple planned another Indonesian holiday, and a trip to the dentist was a must.

This time with their son in tow, the trio had a routine teeth clean as well as X-rays for their son.

With a bill of $250, the family was again impressed by the care and low price.

Kirstin was worried at her first dental appointment but hasn’t looked back since.

“I put off going to the dentist (in Australia) because it was so expensive,” Kirstin says.

With her most recent trip to her regular Balinese dentist costing $400, including Botox for a jaw disorder, Kirstin says the same procedure in Australia would have cost about $1300.

Raving to anybody who will listen, Kirstin has managed to convince friends and family to have their dental work done on the Indonesian island.

And after one friend had an eye-watering Australian dentist bill for $13,000, he jumped on a flight and had similar work done in Bali — with flights and expenses totalling $6,000.

Kirstin’s in-laws had a similar experience and found themselves avoiding the dentist altogether because of the cost.

But in Bali, the couple paid $50 each — and they are planning to have more extensive treatment done.

“Anybody who is thinking about it, just go,” Kirstin says.

With a trip — and a routine dentist appointment — booked for a few weeks time, Kirstin says this will be their seventh time in a Balinese dental chair.

And she has never looked back.

Cheap travel hacks

Since discovering the huge financial gain from receiving dental care abroad, Kirstin has also found other ways to save money when travelling.

Earning points via her American Express credit card and converting them into Qantas points allows her to cut costs for her annual dental trips.

It also helped her take 18 trips, both domestic and international, in 18 months.

Kirstin with her husband Tom and their son.

For meals, she suggests packing homemade lunches for day trips, and scouting the best local restaurants for specials of the night.

“For example, I know on Mondays that XYZ restaurant has two-for-one cocktails, or on Tuesdays XYZ restaurant has $1-$2 tacos,” she explains.

She adds the family saves money by steering clear of big hotel chains and booking with small boutique or family run hotels.

And she suggests trying to avoid peak travel and school holiday periods.

The budget-savvy mum also recommends packing activities to keep your children busy while travelling.

When the family of three began travelling during the school term, Kirstin asked their son’s teachers for homework that he could complete along the way — but she says they just advised him to “keep a travel diary”.

Kirstin felt an ordinary journal might feel more like a “chore”, so she came up with her own colourful kids travel diary, which she now sells through her small business My Big Adventure.


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