Imagine you’re motoring along looking out your car window at a very dense and lush rainforest with more variety of flora and fauna than anywhere in the world; a land that harbors sociable white face monkeys, sleek and private jaguars, colorful toucans, and more than 50 species of hummingbirds. Visualize the excitement of ocean waves pounding against towering rock cliffs, while in the opposite direction 12,000’ mountain peaks and active volcanoes give way to serene valleys of coffee and pineapple plantations. All of this you experience along the way to your next dental appointment.
This is only a brief description of my latest trip to the dentist this summer. No, I didn’t find this in my wonderful town of Greenville, South Carolina, but rather in the lush forest and diverse geography of Costa Rica.
Now let’s back up a bit. My last visit to the dentist here in the US revealed a need for extensive dental work to the tune of $8000. With insurance only covering $1500 of the cost, I began looking for a feasible solution and found it through an organization that specializes in linking patients with qualified medical providers abroad. With a little research about medical vacations on the internet and a few quick emails to and from the medical coordinator, Debra (real name withheld), my worries and my dental bill were reduced to a fraction of what they were upon leaving that initial dental appointment stateside.
Debra walked me through the process with sound expertise and her gentle guidance. She supplied me with three quotes, two from Costa Rican dentists and one from a dentist in Monterey, Mexico, and set my mind at ease about the quality of care from providers abroad. From these recommendations I chose a dentist from Costa Rica for a few reasons. Although all of the dentists presented were very capable, my wife and I had previously fallen in love with Costa Rica from two previous vacations there, and this doctor’s education came from studying and teaching dentistry at Boston University.
Not only did the Debra get the ball rolling towards this wonderful adventure, but stayed in touch consistently with updates and advice throughout the process. She supplied me with two
references from other people that had encountered the doctor’s expert and caring work. These contacts communicated what to expect (excellence) and gave recommendations on great places to stay within walking distance of my appointment. With my selected dates of travel, discussions about the agreed upon procedures, and excitement about this new adventure, my wife and I were ready and thrilled to be on our way to the land that we hope
one day will be our second home.
Upon touch-down in the capital city of San Jose at 1:00 PM on a Thursday afternoon, a taxi arranged by the hotel whisked us to our comfortable lodging within 20 minutes walk of the dentist’s very modern and well-staffed office. After settling in for a few hours, we walked through the towering trees of Sabana Park, past the enormous and very beautiful home of Costa Rica’s head Catholic priest, and found ourselves across the street from the Costa Rican President’s Estate and the dentist’s office.
My first impression upon entering my new dentist’s office was that I was in as modern a medical facility as any in the US. The welcome was kind and friendly and as I settled into the dentist chair any fears of having medical treatment abroad were taken away by the politeness and obvious expertise of his knowledgeable staff. From the beginning, I was being given the feeling
that I was the most important visitor of the day. My dentist was never rushed or distracted. During the time that he saw me, he saw only me. I wasn’t one of many patients vying for the dentist’s attention as so often seems the case in the US.
After a thorough examination, the doctor and I agreed upon the procedures needed– which we had truly already done via email in advance, according to x-rays. Working until 6:30 PM, with no hint of being in a hurry after a long day, much of the work was completed and with absolutely no pain. It was an unbelievable first.
The next morning, I was measured for a permanent bridge that was to be made while my wife and I spent two glorious weeks experiencing the warmth of Costa Rica’s people and the magic of its geography and natural abundance. We sojourned to the Orosi Valley, the high altitude mountains of the South Central section of the country, the beautiful and rocky Pacific coast around Manuel Antonio, the rainforest of the Osa Peninsula, and the volcanoes surrounding the towns of Turrialba and Cartago. We’d felt Costa Rica’s magic in our previous forays there and it simply all came rushing back to us in great splendor.
After a wondrous few weeks, we returned on a Tuesday to San Jose, to make another gentle call to the dentist. During this appointment my sparkling dental bridge was fitted and then sent for the final enamel process. Wanting to have more time in the country side, we spent another three days touring in the central valley area and found a few more quaint Tico towns we’d love to call home. One more turn in the dentist chair on Friday and my bridge was permanently affixed. The next morning we were bound for the States, mission accomplished.
This undertaking has confirmed to me that anyone to get reliable, affordable healthcare abroad. It intensified my love for Costa Rica and its society. It was a marvelous vacation and a very valuable and educational venture. I would be extremely happy to help anyone through this process and to recommend my dentist and the health organization I used. [ email the author ]
Again, imagine great care and two weeks of vacation in one of the world’s most gorgeous and diverse countries at a price much lower than the cost of the dental work alone in the US.