The Dental Stock Market, Hungary

12/09/2013 22:46


Getting one's teeth scaled and polished in Budapest is only possible after swallowing some amusing negotiations with the dentist in front of an audience in the reception area.


Me: “Beszél valaki angolul?”

Them: “Yes.”

And from then the conversation goes like this:


“How much to get my teeth cleaned?”

“Which set?”


“Top or bottom?”


[The man gestures that he wants to look inside my mouth, and I permit him. His right eye then lifts to do a quick calculation.]

“20,000 if you want both sets (£60) – 10,000 each.

“Wow! Do you realise that's way more than it costs in the UK?”

[Dentist shrugs]

“How much do you charge Hungarians?” I ask.

We exchange a wry smile before I leave.



For the foreigner, prices of dental treatment can vary by the day in wild stock market style... yet here there's no trading account, you just need to open your mouth and sweat out a luxurious negotiation in this price guessing game. The above conversation represents merely the starting visit... not serious for either party; a ludicrous punt. The next phase then begins as, having also registered initial enquires at other tooth houses, you revisit those dentists again at random times of the day at least every couple of weeks, just for the sport, to ask the cost of the same thing – a scale and polish – and jump about in pleasure as the trading price loses all rooting and plummets or soars. But sooner or later the dentist clicks that you're a trader, and that you're onto them. By now, for added rewards, you're accustomed to repeating with natural intensity: “That's more than you quoted last week!” to rightly effect the imaginary discount and familiar smile.



Then one day I walk through a particular door again, this time in the evening as they're about to close. Today's quote has gone up 20% since last time, and I can even see someone else's invoice for the same service at 2000HUF less languishing on the counter in front of me, matching the number I scribbled on their business card as my reminder. I take a silent, knowing pause, after which I am quickly offered a 70% discount, conditional upon presenting myself there first thing the next morning for the dentist's unfilled slot. 


Within a few weeks of fun, then, the process wins and I've come out clean. With persistence and a lot of good humour, the savvy foreigner can get a good deal on their gnashers in Budapest... exposing themselves along the way to a positively addictive form of behaviour negotiation for the patient of mind  to playing the disguised game of the dental stock market.



Dental tourism balancing note: Dentists in Serbia charge lower rates, so consider Belgrade as a better value alternative to Budapest. The latter is simply better known for dental tourism, hence the potential for added shenanigans.



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The Dental Stock Market, Hungary

The Dental Stock Market, Hungary

Date: 13/09/2013 | By: AlexUK

Reminds me of the old joke:
A guy visits the dentist and asks the price for a tooth extraction.
Dentist: "That would be £80, sir"
Guy: "That's too much. Haven't you anything cheaper?"
Dentist: "Well, we can cut down on the anaesthetic. It'll hurt a bit but it will only cost £60."
Guy: "That's still too much. Can't you make it any cheaper?"
Dentist: "Well, I can ask the trainee to pull the tooth out with no anaesthetic at all. It'll hurt like hell, there'll be lots of blood and it could take weeks to heal."
Guy: "That's fine .... book the wife in for tomorrow!"

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