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Visionary dentist bridges gap in Phuket dental market

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Medical tourism and the hordes of foreign customers it brings to Thailand and Phuket’s shores is on a steady rise, with the Tourism Authority of Thailand reporting more than 2.5 million international patients travelling to the Kingdom for treatments in 2012 and predicting an increase of 13% per annum.

One dental clinic conglomerate, Dental Corporation Co Ltd, started filling the market cavities years ago, and its business-savvy CEO recently sat down with the Phuket Gazette to talk about the changing tides of medical tourism and what his company has in store for Thailand and Phuket’s tourists and local residents.

Dr Pornsak Tantapakul, DDS, who graduated with an orthodontic certificate degree from New York University before moving on to earn a degree in lingual orthodontic technique from Eastman Dental Institute at the University College in London, told the Gazette he saw a significant increase in the number of overseas patients visit his clinic soon after his return to Thailand.

“I started with a humble one shophouse dental clinic along Phahonyothin Road [in Bangkok] about 12 years ago,” Dr Pornsak says.”Perhaps because I had trained abroad and applied those techniques, standards and technological innovations to my work here, my clinic saw a significant number of overseas patients.

“Looking at the opportunities at that time and with the incoming medical tourism market, I knew I needed a larger dental center that could effectively provide a one-stop dental service center to both the international community and local residents near the city center of Bangkok.”

Thus, in 2005, the Bangkok International Dental Center (BIDC) was established. BIDC is the company’s seven-storey flagship dental center, with more than 30 treatment rooms providing professional hospital-grade treatments and standards. The one-stop shop has on-site 3D CT scans, digitalized x-ray machines, an on-site lab and a mini boutique hotel.

In 2012, BIDC became the first outpatient dental care center in Thailand to achieve the American quality and patient safety Joint Commission International (JCI) certification.

But the company didn’t stop there. With quality and customer service in mind, says Dr Pornsak, more dental clinics were established following the same principles and standards of professionalism.

The company now has two premium Dental Signature clinics, one at Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok and the other in Patong next to Jungceylon shopping mall, as well as a chain of Smile Signature clinics, with five locations scattered around Bangkok.

“We even have three more confirmed locations expected to be opened by the end of 2015, which includes one on the beachfront road in Patong. Dental Corporation Co Ltd will have an expected 11 total clinics in Thailand by the fourth quarter of this year,” Dr Pornsak notes.

Dr Pornsak credits the expansions in part to a rising number of dental tourists visiting Thailand – even in spite of recent political turmoil.

“Though there has not been a reported benchmark by which to measure Thailand’s dental tourism industry growth, our dental group has seen an increased overall number and an annual increase in foreign patients at BIDC and in Phuket over the past few years, despite the domestic political issues and economic downturn in some of our main patients’ countries,” he said.

Dr Pornsak noted that these foreign patients make up about 97% of customers that walk through the doors at Phuket Dental Signature in Patong, compared with the 60% foreign customer base seen at BIDC.

“With the natural, beautiful islands and beaches on and surrounding Phuket, this percentage rate comes as no surprise to me. Tourists are combining medical and dental treatments with their holidays,” Dr Pornsak says. “With Phuket’s vast potential, the dental group has plans for a second clinic in Patong by mid-year which will be situated in front of the beach.

“Visitors can relax and enjoy the beach view from the second floor of the clinic.”

— Mauri Grant

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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