With so many clinics offering their services, and so much information, how do I know which one to choose?

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With so many clinics offering their services, and so much information, how do I know which one to choose?

You need dental work. You have known that you needed it for a long time, but you have postponed it because, let’s face it, this is a huge undertaking.  You cannot put it off any longer. You’re in pain or just plain embarrassed. You feel pressured to get this done, and fast.  As time passes, you become more and more anxious to get the process going. You want results. You want them quickly. You also don’t want to brake the bank while doing it. At this point,  you are overwhelmed by it all.  This is when you want to proceed with caution.

How do I choose a clinic? How do I know the dentist is any good? What materials do they use? How up to date is their technology? Can they live up to the job they have done? These are all valid questions you may ask yourself. In fact, these are the questions you should ask yourself!




Training- Where did the doctor go to school? How many years has he or she been practicing? Most importantly, are they specialist in their field? How do you corroborate this information?  In Costa Rica you can check if your doctor is licensed and his or her specialty at Colegio de Cirujanos Dentistas de Costa Rica which translates into National College of Dental Surgeons, and all licensed dentists must be registered in order to practice. You can find your dentist by name, specialty or code number.

Whether or not your dentists is a specialist in their field will reflect on the treatment cost, because of course, its not the same to have a specialist in the field do the job, than a general dentist.

Treatments offered- I truly recommend finding a dental practice that specializes on the treatment you are seeking. This means that they are more experienced and know all the ins and outs when it comes to the procedure. Also, they probably have all the materials they require to get it done.

Emergency Care- rarely does one think of dental related emergencies, but they do occur. Once, right before Easter Break, my husband got his wisdom teeth pulled. Everything seemed fine, until he noticed he couldn’t open his mouth very wide. He passed it off as being part of the healing process post surgery, but that went on for a few days. Instead of getting any better, it just worsened to the point of him being in excruciating pain. There weren’t any doctors available to see him because of the holiday, and no medication would alleviate the pain. So off we ran into San Jose, on Sunday evening traffic. It took us twice as long to get there, and every pothole I drove into (this is Costa Rica, there are plenty) would cause so much pain, he literally cried.  We drove into CIMA emergency care at midnight, and the doctor on duty that night happened to be an old friend of ours (remember, I’m a nurse). He got us situated quickly, and once he put in the stick to push down his tongue to get a better view, the abscess that had formed under his tongue drained. I’ll spare you the details.

He looked at me and said “your husband got lucky the abscess drained spontaneously, otherwise he would have needed a CT-scan to locate it, then emergency surgery to drain it.” An abscess in your mouth is very dangerous, the infection may spread towards your blood, contaminating other parts of your body with bacteria. Of course, that was the worst possible scenario. The situation was aggravated by the fact that his doctors where not available to see him when he began having trouble opening his mouth and having pain. This could have all been easily avoidable by prescribing antibiotics in a timely manner.

Dental technologies- So you choose the best dental surgeon, but is he or she equipped with the best technologies to ensure that your treatment is successful? What kind of materials are the using in your mouth? Where are they fabricated? Are there spare parts readily available in case you should need one? What quality is being used?

Let me go into another little story that happened to me once… So, I take Glisulin, a brand name medication for diabetics.  It’s pricy, and it started hurting my pocket a little bit. As most of you know Costa Rica offers social healthcare, and as long as you are paying for your insurance, your medications are covered. I asked my PCP about switching to the generic version of Glisulin to save some money. His analogy was the following:

“Say you need to get from point A to point B. There are many ways to get there. You choose to drive. Your options are a luxurious, brand new Mercedes Benz or a very basic, yet still new Hyundai. Both cars will get you there regardless, but I which will the ride be more enjoyable?”

The moral of the story is that yes, expensive medication has the same function than the cheaper kind, but there will be less side effects, I’ll have to take smaller doses less often, etc. How does this relate to implants? You can get a cheap implant placed, but it will never live up to the durability of a more expensive implant that probably will never give you any trouble in the future?

I hope I didn’t go too much out there in my analogy, and hopefully you were able to understand the point I was trying to make.

Patient Comforts- Aww, my favorite subject to talk about. Who doesn’t like a little love here and there? To be able to be worry-free, relaxed and content during dental tourism is worth gold! Not to worry about coming and going, to have transportation available, concierge services to meet your every demand is priceless. Imagine avoiding looking into tons of hotels, figuring out how far or near they are from your appointments?  Imagine getting insider tips and recommendations for do’s and don’t’s while touring the country?  What about pain? If you are like me (a big wuss when it comes to dentists) first thing you are going to think about is “is ‘this going to hurt?” Does your dental practice offer IV sedation or other pain relievers that will make you comfortable during and after the procedure?

And last but not least: Cost- If you are looking into traveling out of your country for dental tourism, I’m certain it I because you are a smart shopper. Because you want to pay less, doesn’t mean you want to be cheap. You want fair pricing. Cheap is bad. Cheap means you are not getting quality treatments done. The cost a treatment is directly associated with its value.  You want affordable quality treatment at a fair price, and that to me is only fair.

There you have it, those are the parameters that I like to take into consideration when it comes to picking a dental clinic over the other. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, and be weary of those who don’t answer in a transparent, honest, direct manner.