Cost Comparison for Full Mouth Reconstruction

Victoria, a 37 year old American woman, went to Costa Rica for a full mouth reconstruction in June, 2017. 

Her dental procedures included comprehensive oral evaluation, complete series of intra-oral radiographic images and panorama, diagnostic casts, periodontal scaling and root planing 4 quadrants, prophylaxis, 2 extractions, 9 root canals, 9 post and core, 1 retreatment of previously done root canal and 27 zirconium crowns.

Cost in Costa Rica [zirconium crowns] * $18,175.00

Comparative Cost in the US [porcelain/ceramic crowns]* * $42,387.52

* The cost of zirconium crowns in the US is not available in 2016 ADA Survey.                        **Zirconium crowns are generally more expensive and durable than porcelain/ceramic crowns.

The prices listed above are a cost comparison between Costa Rica and the US and to not include Victoria’s additional exclusive discount which she received as a Destinations Dental client

- Let’s Be Realistic -

An Honest Guide to a Dental Tourism Trip Abroad

I went to Costa Rica to have major dental reconstruction done [the summer of 2017]. I had gone to my regular dentist and had faced some serious push back. I was unable to get an estimates of the cost or even a good [plan to tell me] how much dental work I needed. That was a large part of why I had decided to go to Costa Rica in the first place; I just couldn’t get any straight answers.

Before then, I hadn’t even considered going to another country. At first the idea of going overseas sounded ridiculous and frightening. I’d never gone on a trip out of the country and I didn’t know anything about dental care abroad but, after doing some research, I came to the conclusion that traveling to Costa Rica was the right fit for me for several reasons. I needed a lot of reconstruction done, I had great support and I could save a lot of money. Also, Costa Rica is close, has a great reputation for dental and healthcare and the clinic I chose was fluent in English.

Due to the spotty dental care I had been getting in America, both because of the cost and the attitude of “only fix the emergencies”, I needed a lot of work which was going to require crowns and several root canals. There was no way I could afford to do all of that in the US and my teeth were just going to keep getting worse unless I fixed all the problems. I realized that if I went to another country, I would be able to afford to fix everything that had gone wrong with my teeth. I would finally be able to get my dental health back on track.

Costa Rica seemed like an ideal destination for an American like me who needed this kind of care. I was one of Destination Dental’s first clients and they helped me find the clinic and dentist I used as well as my hotel and other resources.

Although my primary reason for going was my dentistry, I didn’t want to spend my entire trip to such a beautiful country in only the hotel or the dentist’s office. I wanted to explore and enjoy my time there. That was, after all, another reason I had decided to go overseas.

Here are some of the things I learned before, during, and after my trip that I think could really help anyone planning to go overseas for dental care. I wish I had thought of some of this before I went and these pointers will help make any dental tourism trip more successful.

1.) Learn at Least a Little Spanish – You don’t need to become fluent or anything but it’s a good idea to learn what you can. Who doesn’t appreciate someone trying to be a good guest? And yes, you ARE a guest in their country. Being able to say a few phrases in Spanish will go a long way toward getting a friendly welcome and can help smooth over any difficult situations. This advice is also practical, going beyond making people like you. Costa Rica is a very English-friendly place and you will find a large percentage of businesses accommodating English speakers but not everyone you meet will be fluent or understand what you say. I found it Very useful when taking cabs to know some Spanish. I actually used my Spanish most often in cabs and when I did, I got the quickest routes, friendliest drivers, and usually the best rates. It’s not that people are dishonest - they weren’t, but if someone can’t understand you, it can be hard to figure out how to work together.

2.) Be Realistic About Your Excursions and Plan Accordingly – I missed out on a trip to Tortuga because I didn’t plan my excursions around my dental work. You are going to have dental work done, after all, and you may not feel up to hiking and zip lining through a jungle or walking miles through the cloud forest the day after a major dental procedure. Keep that in mind before booking excursions as you may not be able to get your money back on a prepaid excursion. If you are planning to do something super adventurous, come in a few days before your dental appointment and do that first.

3.) Remember Why You Are There and Rest – This one Seems easy but it can get lost in the excitement of travel. Yes, you’re on vacation but you’re also getting major dental work done. Build in time to rest. There are a lot of wonderful things to do and see but you will need time to recover. Depending on how much work you need to have done, you may need a day or two to just kick back in the hotel and watch the other guests. This can be a lot of fun though; people come to Costa Rica from around the world and talking to the front desk people and other guests gave me a lot of insight into the country plus endless Spanish practice. I even made a few friends whom I have to this day. Build in some time to rest. You’ll ultimately have a better time than if you try to see and do everything.

4.) Avoid the Sun – Costa Rica has some amazing beaches. They are featured on travel channels the world over and are hard to pass over. However, I can think of nothing worse than sitting in a dentist chair while suffering from a sun burn. Heat exhaustion or a burn from too much exposure to the sun can affect how well you heal. Costa Rica’s sun also seems brighter and fiercer due its more southerly location and its proximity to the equator. For this reason I would Highly recommend skipping anything beach related or at the very least apply sunblock often and well. Don’t risk that sunburn.

5.) Avoid Swimming or Water Sports – This goes along with the avoiding beaches advice and is actually a little less severe. I would just recommend avoiding activities that will get water in your mouth once your dental work has begun. White water rafting is obviously out for a number of reasons. Pretty common sense but I didn’t think of it right off. Standing water might have bacteria and you just got dental work so play it safe and try to not get it in your mouth. If you do, consider rinsing your mouth well. No need to panic about it though. Talk to your dentist if you are concerned.

6.) Don’t Waste your Savings – Destinations Dental is giving you an excellent opportunity to save a lot of money on dental care by visiting another country and, of course, there are a lot of ways to spend that money once you’re there. You can buy a lot of great souvenirs to take home and there are trips and excursions galore available but I caution you to spend your money and time wisely. Shop around for the best deals and the most iconic Costa Rican items. The experience of going to the market is in and of itself an adventure so why not make the most of it and select your purchases with care. You can’t see everything so why not be selective about tours and excursions you really want. Don’t just do things because it’s the “Costa Rican Thing To Do”.

Try out some low cost or free things to do like an amazing museum or botanical park. The plants and wildlife in Costa Rica are some of the most diverse in the world and it would be a shame to miss out on some of these natural wonders especially since they’re all around you and most times it is free. You can’t always put a price on an amazing experience. Try new things.

7.) Spring for the Insurance – There are very few standard insurance companies that will cover expenses incurred abroad. By All means check with your existing insurance company. But it’s always a great idea to get some extra peace of mind and I’d highly recommend travel insurance anyway. The policy Destinations Dental recommended covered medical problems which I might have encountered due to an accident or injury on the trip as well as covering complications related to my dental treatment for Six months after I went home. I could also cover my companion on the policy with travel cover insurance for a small fee and, overall, it was really affordable. I didn’t have to use the policy but I was happy I got it. No one wants to think of something going wrong medically on vacation but it’s better to have insurance and not need it than the other way around. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

8.) Understand That You Got an Estimate, Not a Quote – Here’s a tip to save you some aggravation. Remember that no matter how well you tried to prepare your dentist in Costa Rica, the Best they can do is give you an estimate. You hopefully sent them all your x-rays, patient records, dental plans and recommendations from any and all dentists you saw in your home country but that can only go so far. They won’t be able to create a final treatment plan until you are sitting in their clinic for a clinical assessment. So, be prepared for their recommendations to potentially change.

This isn’t always a bad thing! Sometimes you may even need less work than they originally thought or they might be able to use crowns in some cases where they originally thought they were going to have to use implants further saving you money. The point is you don’t know for sure, and neither do they, until they actually see you in person so be prepared to be a little flexible about your treatment.

9.) Bring Along a Companion – Costa Rica is a great country full of museums, shopping, parks, and beautiful country but you might not choose to go out to see things if you travelled alone. It can be a little intimidating to leave your hotel and venture forth into a strange city all by yourself, especially if your mouth is a little sore or swollen. You’ll feel a lot more secure, and have more fun, if you’re not by yourself. Destinations Dental is a Great advocate to have on your side but a friend or family member is the best emotional support you can have.

10.) Be Your Own Best Advocate – I cannot stress this one enough. Having a great support network like Destinations Dental in your corner is priceless but at the end of the day they can only help you as much as you are willing to help yourself. Only you can know what you need. You HAVE to take care of yourself in another country. I’m not trying to scare you or make you pause. You should be doing the same thing at home with any dentist or doctor but it’s really important overseas. If the dental assistant isn’t numbing you enough, you must say something. The dentist WANTS you to have the best experience possible.

This doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Far from it. That’s what folks at Destinations Dental are there for. They are your Ace in the Hole. They are the people you contact if the hotel is not meeting your needs or if you have any problems with the dentist you can’t solve. If you feel at all uncomfortable talking to someone directly, give your Destinations Dental Advocate a call. You aren’t just wandering into a foreign country blind with no support whatsoever. You have a team of people and a dedicated advocate, who knows the country, and has a relationship with your dental clinic and your hotel. They are there to intercede on your behalf if something isn’t going according to plan and insure you have the best experience possible but they can’t do that if you don’t tell them what is going on. Help your advocates help you by being open and honest about what you need.

You don’t need to be rude to staff or worry about being nit-picky, that’s what the Destinations Dental people are there for. They can also help guide you on what to expect and how to address things yourself. They are just an invaluable resource. You paid for their help so don’t hesitate to use it.

These are ten realistic tips and pointers that if you use them will help you have a Fun Successful dental tourism trip. I really hope you decide to get your dental work taken care of this way. Be it in Costa Rica or another host country. I’m very glad I did and I’m glad I had the support of Destinations Dental when I did.

Wishing You Safe Travels and a Beautiful Smile!

– Victoria