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***UPDATE!: I have returned home after my 2nd & final dental trip to Costa Rica. A wrap-up post will be coming soon. If You're A New Visitor Then Please Use The Archive Menu To The Right To Start At Post #1 (2013 Dec)***

Friday, August 22, 2014

44: WhatClinic.com - FOR GENERAL INFO ONLY!

This subject recently came up in the Topix forums and thought I would expand on it a bit here. WhatClinic is a site that people can go to and search for different types of medical clinics. I think it's a good place to get the basic information of a clinic such as what they offer, who the doctors are and to read some reviews. But DO NOT let the reviews you read be your deciding factor on what clinic to choose. You will hardly ever find a negative review on that site. The clinic gets the say as to what reviews are posted about them. The clinic pays WhatClinic.com to be on their site...sort of an advertisement.

Here is a report on WhatClinic that I found....

"At Whatclinic.com , go to "Add Your Clinic" in the upper right corner. It opens a page where doctors can sign up. Near the big yellow "Sign Up" button, select "Terms and Conditions". There, you will clearly find that Whatclinic.com is frequently paid by the doctors for listings under a number of schemes, though it does indicate there is some form of free account.

Now, the scam. Select any doctor, and attempt to make a review on that doctor. Try "Review This Clinic" towards the bottom of the page. On the subsequent page where you can fill in the review, there's a button all the way on the bottom of the review named "Review Policy". Click that.

The Whatclinic.com review policy clearly states that they are not a review site. All patient reviews are submitted to the clinic, and the review is only published if the clinic approves the review. It also stipulates that aggregate consumer ratings only include those ratings that meet their guidelines. Patients are forbidden from making a defamatory review, and no reports of criminal activity are permitted. 

The review policy states that if the clinic refuses to allow a patient review to be published, then that will be disclosed on the clinic's review page. OK, there are complaints at the Ripoff Report that Whatclinic.com refused to publish their negative review of Doctor Alberto Coto Calvo of San Juan, Costa Rica. Well, his review page is here: http://www.whatclinic.com/dentists/costa-rica... and you're a better person than I if you can spot where Whatclinic.com made the disclosure they promised in their policy.

My opinion time. There are a lot of marketing websites scattered all across the web that are no more than hype for services. They are paid by subscribers (doctors in this case) to make the advertisements appear like objective consumer ratings. Throwing out the reviews you don't like is far from objective. In my opinion, I consider words like lies, fraud, misrepresentation, scam, illegitimate, and don't use if you care about your health to be far more accurate. Don't use Whatclinic.com as a source for choosing a dentist."

source: http://bit.ly/1ze8faB

Another site that has something to say about WhatClinic: http://whatclinic.pissedconsumer.com

So again...it's an OK site to get the general info on a clinic but that's about it. You can be looking at a clinic on that site and be reading some good reviews and say to yourself, "wow...all positive reviews and nothing negative so it must be a great clinic". Well you don't see hardly any negative reviews because the clinic will not approve those to be posted. Some clinics who have a lot of positive reviews, say 30 or more, will allow a not so favorable review to be posted once or twice because they feel it makes the whole thing look more realistic. This is obviously all about $ for both the clinic and for the site WhatClinic.com

For your research be sure to be diligent, methodical, intelligent and dare I say a bit obsessive. It pays off.







Saturday, July 19, 2014

43: TEETH DREAMS



Before I went to Costa Rica to get my teeth fixed I use to have these teeth dreams from time to time. I would dream that my nasty teeth started to fall out of my mouth and render me toothless. I would wake up and realize I still had my teeth...my disgusting, chipped, stained and gaped teeth. I would then wish there was something I could do to get my teeth fixed. I have no doubt that I had these dreams because I was always so aware of how bad my teeth were and how it affected my life. It consumed my mind in wake and sleep.

Now that I have a brand new smile and I am no longer consumed with thoughts of bad teeth can you guess what happened to my teeth dreams? Gone? NOPE! They have altered only slightly. Now I dream that my new white and straight teeth fall out. I wake up feeling my teeth with my tongue and then being so happy that it was all just a dream.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

42: FIRST CLASS CONVERSATION WITH CONFIDENCE

During my trip home I had a layover in Dallas. Before they started boarding my flight home to Portland they announced that they had 2 first class seats available and the first 2 people who came up to the counter could upgrade for $100. As soon as I heard that announcement, I was up there as quick as my non-fit body could get me. The person who snatched up the other seat was a gentleman who was a tad older than me and who was also returning home after visiting family in Texarkana. We talked quite a bit and I told him about my dental journey to Costa Rica. During our conversation I suddenly noticed how I was not trying to hide my teeth as I was so used to doing all my life. I was talking, smiling and carrying on with confidence that I had never possessed before...it was very nice.

To this day I still continue to build my confidence but frankly it's coming naturally with little effort. Instead of avoiding conversations I now find myself wanting to join them. I knew this whole experience would result in a huge life change but it's still surprising in some ways to see how quickly and easily I'm making those changes.

For my regular and dedicated readers I apologize for going so long without any kind of update. Once I returned home I settled into the normal life of work and play. Everything is going great and I've had zero problems regarding the dental work I received from Dr. Prada in Costa Rica. I love my smile and I can't believe how much my new teeth feel natural. I still have planned a final wrap up post that should cover quite a bit and I'm currently starting to piece that together. Thank you for your patience and I'll get back to you soon.

Friday, May 30, 2014

41: TEETH!

OK I'm pretty tired and have to get up early in the A.M. for my flight so a quick post showing my final & permanent teeth. I'll do a more detailed post and a wrap-up post once I get home.

The Zirconia abutments...





The 3 bridges of ZirkonZahn Prettau Zirconia teeth...





                      (lighting not doing the teeth justice in above pics. Much whiter in person)

Isn't it amazing how different light and angles will make the teeth look slightly different such as the whiteness? Above they look kind of dingy and not very pleasing which is opposite of actual  appearance   I've also found the after the teeth were attached to the abutments and I took photos of them, sometimes it would look as if they were too wide/big and other times they looked perfect.


WARNING: NASTY BEFORE PHOTOS BELOW!






LAST CHANCE TO NOT LOOK...







SERIOUSLY...ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO SEE THIS?...









TODAY!

(labeled "front 1" - for reference to a comment below)


(note to self: take earbuds out when being photographed)

In the photo directly above see the small gap where there is no gum in front and behind the canine tooth? When Dr. Prada put the new teeth in yesterday, he said that the gum would drop a bit and fill in those places nicely, creating that little triangle of gum that is important for good aesthetics. Well I thought he meant a week or two but when I woke up this morning, those small gaps were filled in beautifully with gum and I'm not talking about BubbleYum gum. I was happy.


Remember how I was saying that the teeth can look different depending on the lighting, angle and such? Take a look at this next photo. It was the first one I sent out to family and close friends after getting my final teeth attached....


Now see how the front teeth here look bigger than the earlier photo that I labeled "front 1"? Also something else that someone from the forums brought up is that it doesn't seem in this photo that the center line of my front teeth line up exactly with my nose tip and my philtrum. (philtrum is the upper lip divot). But again when you look at photo "front 1", all looks fine. Well the "front 1" photo was taken head on...facing directly in front of me. The photo immediately above was taken by me with one hand and off to the side a bit and thus makes the center line look off. As far as the teeth looking wider in the above photo, I have noticed that when I take selfies with my cell phone (cellfies?) that it tends to distort things slightly. The main camera on the phone, the one that is on the back, takes great pics. But the smaller pixel camera above the display screen...well not so much. Have no idea if that is the cause, or if it's lighting or what but I do know they don't look that wide in person.

Well that is it for now. Off to bed soon and then after an entire day of flying I'll be back in my babies arms once again. Can't wait!

Thanks for reading and look for the next post towards the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

40: Q&A WITH DR. VINICIO PRADA

I didn't have a dental appointment today but I did find myself at DDS Dental nonetheless. Dr. Prada was kind enough to find some time so that I could sit down with him and ask the standard questions plus one not so standard. But first let's see the clinics location and some photos of the clinic...


 (here is a more zoomed in map. North of DDS is Liza's, the place I stay while in CR - http://bit.ly/1ovvewZ)








Anything I say about DDS Dental is going to come across as biased since this is my clinic...and you would probably be right. But I'll give you the low down anyway. The new section of the clinic is of course incredibly modern and ultra-clean. It has the latest, greatest technology and gadgets and it beats any other clinic I've seen anywhere. Now the original section of the clinic is actually my favorite. I love the ultra modern decor look of the new section, but there is something about the original part that I really feel comfortable with. I really can't explain it but I think I'm starting to get dental geeky on you so let's move on to the interview. Oh be sure to stick around to the end of the video for a question that the doctor wasn't quite expecting...




I don't blame him for not answering that last question...I wouldn't have either if I was him. I'm not sure if you get a sense of this by watching the video but from the 1st day I met Dr. Prada in January, I noticed how comfortable he makes you feel. He realizes it's a big step for someone to travel to another country for medical purposes and his demeanor puts you at ease from the very start. Also when he starts to talk to you about dental procedures and what the best course of action is for your case, you realize right away that this guy is so incredibly knowledgeable. Then once he begins to work on you, you realize something else...how skilled he is. Even the way he administers novocaine has something very PRO about it. I have never once felt the needle! I'm not sure if it's the way he wiggles the lip back and forth quickly when the needle pierces the skin or what but it's pretty nice not having to worry about that even though it's a minor thing.

I researched for 8 months trying to pick a dentist. I would come home from work and spend at least 2 to 3 hours every single night, more hours on weekends, looking at every piece of information I could find. Wouldn't it have been awful if after all those hours, after all that time spent trying to find the perfect dentist for me, if I had came down here and ended up having an awful experience with a horrible dentist? But instead it was the opposite. Even my wife, who at first couldn't understand why I needed to research so much, now says that it has all paid off. I know for a fact that I found the perfect doctor for my case. Dr. Prada is not only the best dentist that I could have picked for my restoration but also one of the nicest individuals that I've ever met in my life.

Many thanks goes out to Dr. Prada for taking the time to do this interview.

DDS Dental: http://www.ddsdentalcr.com

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

39: OH SO CLOSE!

Yesterday (Monday) I had my 4th dental appointment during this 2nd trip of my dental journey in Costa Rica. This appointment was a big step which in turn brings me so close to my finale. On this day my temporary prosthesis, that I've been wearing since January, was removed in order to be fitted with the 1st draft of my new teeth. I've been referring to my temp as "Cracky" since it cracked a couple of months ago while I abused it on some tacos. So off came Cracky and I was finally able to see how bad I had messed it up from gluing it together multiple times....




Once that lovely piece of toothy goodness was out of my mouth it was time to be fitted with zirconia abutments. You might remember this diagram that I had in post #34...


The white zirconia part labeled "Single abutment" is what Dr. Prada attached to my implants at this stage. Let me tell you that this was the first time during this entire treatment, even going back to trip #1 when I had my teeth pulled and implants inserted into my bone, that I had experienced pain. The zirconia abutments had to be placed tightly against the gums, then the doc would let my gums relax for 5 minutes in which the pain would go away. Then he would tighten them down some more (pain!) and say, "the pain will be gone in about 5 minutes then I'll tighten them some more". Sure enough about 5 minutes later the pain was gone and once again he would crank on those abutment screws a little bit more. Why no novocaine you ask? That is a very good question and believe me I found out. Once the abutments were in place we would then place the mock up of the 3 individual bridges onto those abutments. Then we would have to check on how the size and shape of the teeth looked in my mouth while smiling, talking, relaxed mouth and so on. It's much more difficult to accurately judge this stage when your lips are numb and drooping down due to being shot up full of novocaine. So this is why Dr. Prada kindly asked me to try and bear this stage with no numbing which I obliged. Now these next photos are not pretty but here are the zirconia abutments in place...




I believe that there are some cultures on this planet where I would be promoted to Chief with a smile like that. So 7 zirconia abutments on 7 titanium implants. Now it was time to "dry fit" the 3 bridges. These bridges are not made of the Prettau Zirconia material that my finals will consist of. These are just a temporary made of plastic and their sole purpose is to check the shape, size, bite and overall look of the teeth. If all is well then those 3 temporary bridges will go back to Favini's lab and then the finals will be made. Here is a shot of the 3 segmented bridges. The front bridge consists of 4 crowns while the other two have 3 crowns each...





Here are all 3 bridges together on a...um...mold I guess it's called.



And here are the 3 bridges in place. First thing we saw was that the canines were a bit too long. Also we questioned the overall length of the teeth. But remember this is exactly what this stage is for, too see if there is anything we want to correct/change before making the finals.



Here I'm holding up Cracky just to compare the color shade...



On the left is Cracky that I've been wearing since January and on the right are the 3 segmented bridges. I believe this is after Dr. Prada shortened the pointy canines...



So what happens now? Well unfortunately the 3 bridges had to come out and back to Favini's lab. When Dr. Prada told me they would be temporaries, I didn't realize he meant that I would have them in my mouth for only about an hour! But that was the plan all along. To stick those in, get a look at everything, make some changes to them and then send them back to the lab. Then the changes will be incorporated into the final teeth. So what happened to little Cracky? We are once again inseparable until Thursday when I get my final & permanent teeth.

Later that day, I went out to meet Mr. Lorenzo Favini and get a tour of his lab which he operates on his property up on a beautiful hillside in a secluded area about 20 minutes out of town. I ended up spending about an hour, at least, there and talked with him in depth about the process of my teeth being made. Well it was in depth for me but I'm sure to him I was just asking rookie questions. I also shot some video and it's going to take some time to put it all together in a presentable manner. In fact I may not have the Favini post uploaded to the blog until after I get back to the States, but here is a teaser...








I had one hell of a good experience at the lab and it made me even more excited about getting ZirkonZahn Prettau Zirconia teeth by Lorenzo Favini! Now that's a mouth full....ha!...get it?


Sunday, May 25, 2014

38: THE WALK!

(lots of photos in this post so may take awhile to load if you have a slower connection)

Saturday morning I woke up with a goal. To get in a good, long walk in order to burn some calories and see parts of the city on foot. I threw some things that I thought I might need in to my backpack, started up my Endomondo tracking app on my phone, put some buds in my ears, started some tunes and I was off. I had an idea of where I was heading but wasn't 100% sure. I started walking East towards downtown San Jose. As always, click on the photos to enlarge.

(the numbers on the blue route line are the mile indicators from the Endomondo app)


(how about some river front property for cheap)


(how about some vertigo)


(stadium pano)


(sabana park + stadium)


 (sabana park pano)


(entering a questionable area?)


(from the coca cola bus station you can get to just about anywhere in CR for cheap)


 ("coca cola" because there use to be a huge coke billboard over the bus depot and the name stuck)

("gringo you need a taxi?")


(the market) 




(this was a coffee shop that wife & I found during 1st trip in January. I had to have this once more!)


 (so I ended up at the main shopping area on a weekend...real smart Rod)





It was time to start heading back home. Dark clouds were moving in and the downpours here can be intense. I had a rain shell in my backpack but wasn't too excited about the possibility of using it. Came across a cemetery and some murals...

(from my instagram photos)


(all sites are above ground not due to religion but because the high water table)



(when I saw this one I said out loud, "what the hell?!")


(this guy drives around the city all day. Creative advertising)


So I ended up walking over 20 km or 12.5 miles. I expelled 2,000 calories. Here is the info from my app. I have no idea why it says max speed 41.7 mph. No I didn't cheat by jumping in a cab. 





Here is the speed graph. Makes no sense why the other info states 41.7 mph as top speed because this shows top speed of 6+ mph. Proof!  ;)



It was a good day and the rain never showed up. By the time I returned to my room I was exhausted to say the least. My body is not use to that thing called exercise and this morning when I woke up I was paying the price. Sore shoulder from the backpack mostly. I did have 3 or 4 different people ask me for money while on this little stroll but I never felt threatened or unsafe even when I was in a less than ideal neighborhood.

Thanks for reading.