"I have great health insurance in the U.S.," says Christopher Huntley, "even for dental care."
But he acknowledges, he's one of the lucky ones. More than 77 million Americans—especially those 65 and older—don't have dental insurance and for those that do, anything more than basic care is rarely covered. And of course, as industry experts report, dental care prices in the U.S. are going up.
"In my case, I've had terrible experiences with dental work," Christopher says. The last straw was when I broke a tooth and got a crown that was so poorly applied I needed a full implant within just a couple of months."
Christopher knew he needed even more dental work done, but he couldn't get any hard-and-fast estimates about how long it would take to accomplish his goals... Or how much it might cost.
After he contacted several dentists near his home in New Hampshire, all he could ascertain was that everything he needed done would take three to four years and cost about $60,000.
"Unacceptable," he thought. There had to be a better option.
And that's what he found in Costa Rica.
Dental Care in Costa Rica
"I've worked in the medical industry for a long time," he says, "as a paramedic and now as an IT consultant. My research showed that Costa Rica has great dental care... And it's a country that's easy to get in and out of."
One clinic in particular—Prisma Dental—got really good reviews. Christopher called and was able to communicate easily in English. He said, "I want to come tomorrow," and the next day, was on a plane to San José.
"They picked me up at the airport and took me right to their office where I had a two-hour evaluation and assessment.
Then I checked in at my hotel (which they arranged for me) and the next day I started my treatment."
That was last Fall. A little over a month ago, he made another trip to Costa Rica for follow-on work.
"So far, on two trips over the last six months, I've had 20 crowns, an implant, and a cavity filled, and including travel, the cost has been about $13,500."
But dental care in Costa Rica is attractive for more than just the price—or the fact that, if you do have dental insurance in the U.S., many Costa Rica dentists can help you with claim forms for reimbursement.
"I wouldn't do this if I weren't confident in the care and quality I was receiving," Christopher says.
The facilities Christopher experienced in Costa Rica are equal to anything he had previously used in the U.S. He also found the dentists' approach refreshing.
"In the U.S. I felt like I wasn't driving; I was just along for the ride. But in Costa Rica, the dentists listened to me and worked with me," he says. "I got better care than I ever could have wanted, and the fact that it's cheaper just made it all the better."
Plus, Christopher got to combine his dental care with a visit to one of Central America's most beautiful countries. Between treatments, he visited coffee plantations and volcanoes.
"I go back in six months for a check-up and I'm taking my kids this time, for a vacation. Even with all the travel expenses, I'll get what everything I want, in an acceptable timeframe, and at one-third the cost."
Sample prices for dental work in Costa Rica:
- Clinical examination $37
- General cleaning starts at $89
- Cavity filling starts at $79
- Root canal starts at $385
- Crowns & bridges start at $450
- Implants start at $1,500 per tooth
- Dentures start at $500