Intro to Dental Tourism
When my retired husband, Gary and I both discovered we needed dental work, we worried. The cost in our US town would be $8000.
That’s bad news for retirees, for millennials, and for anyone who needs to pinch pennies. Searching for solutions, we confirmed with a friend in Ecuador that there were high-quality dentists.
They charge less than 1/3 the cost of the same work in the US.
A cost comparison showed that a month staying with our friend in Cotacachi would cost less than going to our dentist in North Carolina. Why be normal? We decided to do it! Dental Tourism, it’s called.
By reading Facebook pages for expats looking for dental tourism, we found two dentists in the nearby town of Ibarra.
They labeled one as holistic (good), but he didn’t speak English (bad). Another was a favorite with expats. He hadn’t learned much Spanish yet. We emailed him for appointments… it was so easy.
We arrived in Cotacachi with great excitement. What an adventure! It was smart to have scheduled our appointments for a week after arriving. We needed the time to acclimate to the HIGH altitude and practice our Spanish skills. We signed up for Spanish lessons and learned some words related to dental work. We planned to visit some lakes, mountains and galleries between appointments.
Dentists – Cotacachi
In tiny Cotacachi, we discovered a good dental office for our dental tourism adventure. Preferring to walk to the dentist instead of taking a bus to Ibarra, we canceled dentist #1.
The local one was Doctora Martha Guerra. She was delightful, full of cheer and enthusiasm for restorative dentistry. The office was informal, no receptionist, sparse waiting room furniture, and just one dental chair. She answered the door and phone herself.
The office and equipment, though, were modern, clean and new. Dra. Guerra had many dentistry degrees from schools in London and Spain, so she knew just enough English. Her painless treatment technique impressed me. Gary and I had two appointments each week. A cleaning was $25, a filling $35.
When all was done, we treated ourselves to a visit of an enormous volcanic caldera with hiking trails around the rim and visited some galleries afterward. A friend hired an indigenous guide to take us all. The fun of it erased any dental stress.
Dentists – Cuenca
Later, Gary’s buddy Jim needed dental work. He wanted to experience Cuenca. Jim and Gary spent a month exploring the city and mountains, pubs and cafes.
They shared an apartment for $18/night. Jim went to Dra. Grace Ordoñez. She won the “Best Dentist” award (given by Gringo Post) six years in a row. She is the only Cuenca dentist certified to remove mercury amalgams safely.
Now living in Cuenca, Gary and I see Dra. Grace Ordoñez for our ongoing dental care. We love chatting with her; she is like a friend.
Her pretty office is first class: sparkly clean, comfortable furniture, a friendly bi-lingual receptionist, and all the latest equipment. Her prices are also 1/3 the cost it would be in the U.S. We love the precision and quality of her work.
Interestingly, she brings in specialists when a client needs it. When Gary needed a periodontist, he came to Dra. Grace’s office.
When someone needs anesthesia, the anesthesiologist comes to her office. It’s a really convenient arrangement! When I needed complex crowns, she had the man who would make my crowns come and look in my mouth.
They had a lengthy discussion, measuring things. He returned for the final crown fitting to see for himself what I needed.
I have never in my life had that level of service in a dental office! The crowns she made for me are far better than any crowns I’ve ever had—perfectly shaped and spaced.
About half our friends go to Dr. Grace. The others have different favorite dentists. I visited OM Dental one time when I chipped a tooth. They spoke a little English and were gentle and efficient. The dentista’s little girl was at the office with her that day, which I enjoyed.
Dental Tourism Conclusion
If a person wants to come to Ecuador for dental tourism, there are many excellent choices. Remember to emphasize the “tourism” part! Young folks and retirees alike can save loads of money, while having spectacular adventures in this safe, friendly country. What would YOU do between appointments?
by: Bonnie Willow