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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)***

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

27: TRIP #1 WRAP-UP: JUST CALL ME SMILEY!

What can I say? I'm smiling every where I go. I smile at people I know, people I don't know and I even find myself smiling when there is no one around...just to practice. Yes it's just an acrylic, temporary prosthesis in my mouth, for now, but it sure beats the hell out of the nastiness that was in there before. My boost in confidence is so evident and that is nice. Before I would always try to avoid conversations with people as I knew they would be looking at my teeth...that's what I thought anyhow. Dr. Prada told me that my final porcelain teeth will look 1000x better. I'm sure that was a bit exaggerated but man I sure am looking forward to those!

At work today I talked with a couple of people that were surprised my dental work in Costa Rica went well. When I asked why, one of them said, "Well isn't the best dental care in the world right here in the United States?".  For some reason it reminded me of a scene from the HBO series Newsroom. In the scene the newscaster is visiting a university and answering questions from students who major in journalism. One girl asks the newscaster something like, "In your opinion what makes America the greatest country in the world?". He replied with...

"We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, Number 4 in labor force and Number 4 in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies...It’s not the greatest country in the world, that’s my answer."

Now I'm guessing some of you won't like this, but folks America is not #1 anymore. Many countries have not only caught up with us, but has passed us. Think about it...what is in the news almost every year? It's how America is way behind in education compared to MANY other countries. Now what are those better educated kids in other countries doing when they grow up? They are becoming surgeons, scientists, professors, dentists and so on. So why is it so hard to believe that you can get better healthcare, or in this case dental care, in another country? We, Americans, are brought up to believe that we are the best, that we are the most free nation in the world. Out of 207 sovereign states in the world, about 180 have freedom so it's not as a rare thing as we are sometimes led to believe.

I love my country and I feel lucky to be born here. But one of the reasons most of the world hates us, and they do, is the 'we are better than you' attitude that many of us carry. Costa Rica is a beautiful yet much different country. They have bad roads with strange, and in my opinion, non-effective traffic laws. Even something simple like garbage collection is done the way we in America did it over 30 years ago. Yet when it comes to something like healthcare...they surpass us. That's straight from the World Health Organization's ranking of the worlds health systems where America is 37th. Costa Rica and 35 other countries rank higher.

The dental care I received in Costa Rica was the best I've ever experienced. Super modern equipment and techniques being used by doctors who are so very personable and pleasing. You actually leave there feeling like you and the doctor are friends and will be for a very long time. All the research in the world wont prepare you for the warmth and encouragement that you will find...given you found the right dentist to go to. If you're on the fence, if you have been considering going to CR for dental work to save money, I can tell you that for me, and many others I have spoken with, it's totally worth it. I'm not saying that you have to go to my dentist in order to get great dental care. There are many great dentists in Costa Rica but I'm sure there are not so great ones as well, just like anywhere, so you still have to do your research and find one of the good ones. I receive no discount, no free work for doing this blog and/or mentioning DDS Dental and Dr. Prada. I would not ask him to do such a thing and I don't believe he would bring it up either. Even if he did I would politely say no.

Before...




After...




Before...




After...




And it will only get better when I return for my 2nd trip and receive my permanent teeth. There is no way I would have been able to afford this treatment in the states. I would have had to settle on dentures and at age 46,  I just didn't want to do that. I never did experience any pain...NONE! Had a couple days of minor swelling after the first temporary prosthesis was attached but that is it.

Hygiene: Obviously I didn't practice good oral hygiene for many years. I can assure you that is no longer the case. I'm brushing, flossing and water-picking at least 3 times a day. If I know I'll be away from home for most of the day then I bring a floss-stick, toothbrush and toothpaste with me...just like I did today at work. Hopefully this effort will help me keep my bottom teeth for a number of years more and of course help the implants integrate into the bone more effectively. A note on using a water-pick...I've been attempting to see exactly where I'm sticking the water-pick while using it instead of doing the by feel method with my mouth closed. Unless you want to spray water all over your bathroom mirror and walls (and sometimes up your nose) I highly suggest you don't attempt doing it my way.

I've been receiving great responses from many of you who have found my blog and I thank you so much for the encouragement and kind words. This is truly a life changing event for me and it's still only half complete. Please feel free to email me and ask any question and I'll do my best to give you a satisfactory answer. You can ask about costs, dentists that I recommend, or what I've heard/learned of a dentist that you are thinking of going to in Costa Rica. I've done so many hours of research over the last 7 or 8 months that I feel it would be a waste to not share what I have learned with others.

thedentaltourist@gmail.com
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Some have inquired about where I stayed while in Costa Rica. I have no problem listing those places here along with a link to the appropriate site. When I'm away for more than a week, I like to stay in more than one place in order to mix things up a bit. I would get bored out of my mind if I stayed in the same hotel for 2 weeks!

**Note: the blue highlighted words below are clickable links**

Nights 1 thru 3: When I arrived in CR, I had a few days before my first dental appointment so to the beach I went...Manuel Antonio to be specific. I stayed at TULEMAR and loved it. Private beach with free use of kayaks, boogie boards & snorkel equipment. Fantastic setting with monkeys, sloths and all kinds of colorful birds. TULEMAR  &  TripAdvisor User Reviews & Photos

Nights 4 thru 10: I wanted a place close to the dental clinic which is located in the upscale Escazu suburb of San Jose. Sometimes when I don't want a hotel setting, I check out two websites which lists rooms, houses and cottages for rent by owners. When we went to Hawaii in '08 we scored a beachfront condo for $89 per night using one of these sites! These two sites are AirBnB & VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owners). On AirBnB I found an American expat who has 2 incredible homes in the Escazu area which are joined by a courtyard. She rents out rooms in both houses and at great prices. Plus it was less than 2km to the dental clinic...super convenient. Her name is Liza and she was an excellent host. She is also the one who told me about Carlos the taxi driver who ended up being my go to cabbie and who will be once again when I return for my 2nd trip. This is where I'll be staying for my 2nd trip as it just so peaceful and affordable. Liza's Listings on AirBnB  (You can also Google "Luxury Living for Peanuts!" and it will take you to her listings)

Nights 11 thru 13: Next we moved to the Ringle Resort. Just 10 rooms but a beautiful place. The owner was a bit strange. We caught him entering our room, when we were not in it, to turn off our A/C. He made some remark about the costs. Yeah well isn't that covered in the rate?! Strange dude. The grounds are gorgeous and the rooms are elegant with incredible views of the valley. If you don't have to deal with the owner then I kind of recommend it. The Ringle Resort  &  TripAdvisor

Nights 14 & 15: We wanted to stay the last night or two in a place close to the airport since we had a very early flight Sunday morning and didn't want to have to take a cab all the way from San Jose. I had heard of a small boutique hotel operated by an American expat which is just 4km from SJO (airport). Individual cottages in a lush, tropical setting...beautiful! No t.v. or phones in the room but that was just fine with me. Berni is the name of the owner and although a bit off center (like I am), he is a great host. Check out The Pura Vida Hotel  &  TripAdvisor

When I return to CR for trip #2, September 15th (EDIT: May 18th...see post #28), I will of course resume this blog. But I may also add a post or two if anything important comes up regarding my dental work.

Thank you

-Smiley

14 comments:

  1. My most sincere congratulations. Don't be too surprised at your sore cheek muscles, that much smiling is going to take some building up of the facial muscalature.
    My heartfelt thanks for your wonderfully detailed description of your journey to Deep Smile.You have some chops as a writer and a generous spirit.Thanks again.

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    1. Thank you John for the very kind words and thank you for reading the blog!

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  2. Well done RJ.....Very well done.

    Woody66

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    1. Thank you my friend. Woody if you ever find yourself in the Oregon area give me a shout...you have a place to stay and I'll be your guide to the wonderful places to see here. Take care and see you on the Topix forum!

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  3. Very detailed and interesting blog, Rod. I hope your generosity allows some others to decide to get the dental care they need down here that might be otherwise unaffordable. Gracias!

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  4. Hi Rod,
    Excellent blog...really, excellent. I am interested in going to CR as well. Would you mind sharing the cost of your dental work? Also, what do I need to provide to a potential CR dentist so they can give me a price quote? I really do not know what options I have with my situation. I have been to several dentist in US and they say dentures, period. I have seen 2 MX dentist and they both want to save what I have, but will not be specific as to what they want to do other than pull upper front 4 teeth and safe the rest. Cost $8000. I have seen both MX dentist twice, they are nice, good reviews, but the lack of explanation is freaking me out. I live in San Diego, MX dentist in TJ. Also, they do not do sedation..... I just can not imagine being awake for any of this teeth pulling, noises, etc. so I was glad to find yours and others blog on CR. Needing to get work soon as teeth are hurting and I just have to end this nightmare of not smiling, not taking pictures, low self esteem etc. Also, I grind my teeth really bad at night and I just know anytime now I am going break one or more off. Need this work done asap or I am going to be toothless in the front. Appreciate any and all suggestions. Thank you.... Wendy

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    1. Hi Wendy. For my treatment, total cost will be about $16K. That is 11 extractions, 7 two-stage implants, gum surgery, bone grafts, and the final teeth will be porcelain fused to zirconia under-structure. It would be at least twice the cost in the U.S. for this procedure. There are cheaper dentists in CR than mine. I decided to go to a specialist and of course that costs more. Mexico, which I researched quite a bit, is about in the same price range as CR...just the travel costs are more if coming to Costa Rica.

      What you need to do is get a panoramic x-ray taken. Also take some photos of your teeth/mouth. Then you send those in a email to a few CR dentists that you're interested in. They will give you an estimated treatment plan with prices. The most popular and cost effective clinic in CR is what most call the Cavallini Clinic. Shoot Dr. Marco an email with a pano xray and photos of your teeth and he will be honest with you about what he can do and how much it will cost. He, as most dentists in CR, won't do any work that doesn't need to be done such as pulling healthy teeth. http://www.aestheticdentistrycr.com/home.html That will give you a good base to start from. Then if you decide that you can afford more and want a specialist then give Dr. Prada a shout. http://www.ddsdentalcr.com

      If you want to stay with Mexico, check out Sani Dental in Los Algodones, MX across from Yuma, AZ. It would be a little bit of a drive for you but not too bad. http://sanidentalgroup.com/price-list.html

      Sedation is the way to go in my opinion. I was in the chair for over 5 hours for my surgery. It was so nice not being aware of anything during that time.

      Good luck and keep me informed. thedentaltourist@gmail.com

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  5. Rod,
    Thank you for your quick response. Your SMILE looks amazing. Still reading the Topix blog and may consider MX clinic you mentioned. I do have a panoramic xray, it is couple years old. I will email to the dentist's you have recommended. So far in my research, I have been coming up with the same Dr. names for CR and MX. Travel to MX would be much, much cheaper for me.

    I really appreciate your blog and posts on Topix. Your sharing the entire process has made going out of the country a no brainer for me. I am eternally grateful for your help. I will keep you posted.

    Wendy


    And yes, SEDATION.

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    1. Yes...please keep me updated. I love to hear about other people's experience.

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  6. So much to take in and mull over after reading this....wow! I am so happy for you, someone I don't even know, that I have tears in my eyes. You really do have a gift for writing. Best to you :-) ~Sheila

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Sheila! It has indeed been a wonderful ride so far and I can't wait for part 2 in September!!!!!

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  7. Rod I just want to thank you for sharing your journey with us. My husband and niece are both in great need of some serious dental work and the first hand knowledge you have passed on will save us so much time and money. Thank you so much for your generosity! BTW - you look so handsome with your new smile. It makes me happy to hear you are out and about now, sharing your joy and smile with those you come in contact with. Looking forward to hearing your September update!

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    1. Thank you so much Colleen! I too am looking forward to my September updates ;)

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