The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
December 12 - Back In The Chair

Enough of this running around the country burning up fossil fuel -- it's time to get back to work. So at 9am I was back in the chair at DentaVac for the next round of work. I mentioned that we had prepped about 20 teeth for crowns or bridges last week. This morning we prepped two more because they would be visible and a different color than my new ones.

Then Luis (Dr. Luis Baez, my Costa Rican dentist -- photo to follow on Friday) did the preliminary fitting of my new choppers. The idea is to get everything in place and adjust the bite before sending them back to the lab for final finishing and glazing. This way he won't have to grind away any of the finished surface to make adjustments. It all looks good to me -- certainly more even and much whiter ... but not so white as to look unnatural. He will mount them permanently on Friday. I can't wait to see the reaction of my dentist in Gig Harbor the next time I am in for a cleaning -- he doesn't even know I was getting the work done!

I've got to say that I have been very impressed with not only the quality of the work they have done for me here (and certainly the price!), but also with the genuine friendliness of everyone in the office. From the receptionist to the hygenist, everyone has been smiling, eager to please and very professional. From the people I have seen in the waiting area, it looks like the Internet and the idea of medical tourism is working very well for these folks.

The weather was cool and overcast, so we grabbed a quick lunch in the restaurant that is part of the hotel complex. Later in the afternoon we went into San Jose where Margene had a consultation with one of the better-known cosmetic surgery clinics just to get an idea of what they had to offer and what might be involved. I can see a "girl's makeover adventure" with some of her friends who have been very interested in our experiences here heading back to Costa Rica for a nip, tuck and group recovery.

All this may sound a little vain, but I think only because the cost of cosmetic procedures in the US makes them something out of the ordinary. It is not that way in the rest of the world. For example, in Brazil cosmetic surgery for women is as common as getting your ears pierced is in our country. Be honest: what sort of minor imperfections in your appearance would you consider having corrected if the cost was reduced by 50-70%? I certainly could not have even considered having this much dental work done at US prices, but when it becomes economically feasible ... well, why not? I'm certainly worth it!

It's just a shame that we have to go out of the country to find affordable medical and dental care ... and I am not talking just about elective cosmetic work. More and more people head to Thailand, India, Hungary and elsewhere for major surgery like heart bypass and joint replacement. Since the total cost including the doctor, hospital, airfare, recuperation, meals and lodging is still a fraction of what the same procedures would cost in US facilities, a few forward-thinking insurance plans will even pay for it. There are risks and potential drawbacks, of course, so you must do your homework but it seems like most of the doctors doing this work have trained in the US and use American-made equipment and supplies. Many are US board certified as well, so the only real difference is the location where they work ... and of course, the price.

Margene is at least getting her teeth ultrasonically cleaned ($30 vs. $100) and whitened ($200 vs. $600) while she is here. Time will tell if she will actually return to have any other work done, but at least we have effectively de-mystified the experience. It's always nice to have options.

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