This post marks the second installment of our “Patient’s Corner” series. Here, Carol Dye (US) recounts her experience with dental treatment in San Jose, Costa Rica.
A few years ago, I ran across an article online about dental work in Costa Rica. Turns out, I knew the person who was being interviewed (a long lost friend). I needed a lot of dental work done and last year began to research dentists in Costa Rica.
I found a dentist [locally] that I had never gone to and had an exam, x-rays, and panoramic done. I chose one that I never used because I knew what his reaction would be and didn't want to anger my own dentist. I needed all my top teeth capped, one tooth pulled due to a cracked root from a hard hit by a dive tank, as well as two implants. The dentist here in New Jersey gave me an estimate of over $30,000. After picking myself up off the floor, I knew what I was going to do.
I had the NJ dentist email me my x-rays and panoramic, which I in turn emailed to the Costa Rican dentist. They were more than helpful, and by the end of several emails I trusted them. Since I wasn’t ignorant to what needed to be done and had no questions about that, it was fairly easy. In my original email, I did not send the estimate or the list of work that needed to be done. The next day I received their assessment of the necessary work. It was identical to what the NJ dentist said, with one exception: the NJ dentist said I needed some crazy treatment to pull my front gums down so that the teeth would be the same size. The dentist in Costa Rica did not agree because I have a concave smile and no one would ever see the difference. That process would have taken months and been very painful, since it involved partially pulling the tooth out and then grinding the two teeth down. Not such a good idea. All the work would come to a total cost of $7,000 and also included a heavy duty teeth whitening and cleaning.
I made the arrangements and packed my bag. Found an inexpensive hotel in San Jose (the dental center also had a full service hotel, but I opted not to go there).
The first day was grueling. It took hours and tons of numbing. I was in quite a bit of pain and thought I had made a huge mistake. They gave me a prescription for the pain that would also help with reducing swelling. I am allergic to a lot of meds and it was in Spanish, so I opted not take it and instead relied on Advil. I was also given temporary teeth to wear, which are uncomfortable and bulky. The rest of the appointments (two weeks total) were for fitting. The day before I was leaving is when my new teeth were permanently installed. What a difference!!! (I also had my family doctor prescribe antibiotics for me in case I needed them while there).
I should also mention that the implants this dentist used are immediate load implants. You do need to be careful for a few months, but mine are fine and look great. My teeth look so much better and I'm glad I did it the way I did; although, they are not perfect, and the fit is probably off a bit. I've since needed a root canal in one of the top teeth, but I knew that I probably would beforehand. I now have no pain in my mouth and after living on Ambesol for a couple of years that's a really good outcome.
The dentist I saw for the root canal was condescending about my going to Costa Rica. And he said that they don't fit properly. However, my bite is fine and I take good care of them. They are covered for a lifetime so if I should need anything major done, I will go back to Costa Rica.
Additionally, their office was clean, all English speaking people worked there (for the most part) and based on the number of people that I met there from the US he's doing huge business.
On off days, my sister and I did some traveling around Costa Rica and did some tours which were great.
by Carol Dye
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