Last year my husband and I started planning a dental tourism trip to Costa Rica. The trip was planned for my husband to get dental work done while visiting Costa Rica. Many people wondered and asked, “Why on Earth would you get dental work done in Costa Rica?” This was especially intriguing to my colleagues because I’m a licensed dental hygienist in the USA. There were a few reasons, but it was mostly due to the cost. I wanted to share how I saved $7,000 for dental work in Costa Rica.
I wrote two other posts that explained;
- why dental tourism in Costa Rica?
- our plan
- updates on my research
- what dental office we chose
- the reasons why I chose Meza Dental Care, San Jose, Costa Rica
- and our finalized dates of the big trip
Well, we are back and I am happy to report that everything went even better than we had hoped for! Our trip was from January 26, 2016- February 2, 2016. I wanted to share as much information as possible. I know many of you have been waiting for this information from the amount of emails, phone calls, texts and comments I have received. How I determined to best explain, is to answer questions that I have gotten from readers/friends/colleagues. If there are any questions that you still have, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am very happy to help in any way I can.
QUESTIONS ABOUT DENTAL TOURISM IN COSTA RICA (MEZA DENTAL CARE IN SAN JOSE):
How do you plan for this? The first step is deciding that you want to go through with this. I understand the concern that many have (I had them too), but after going and having this awesome experience I endorse Meza Dental Care 100%. If you didn’t tell me I was in Costa Rica, I would have never known. The office was nicer than any office I have ever worked for in the US and that’s saying a lot. I currently do temporary work and have worked in numerous offices throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Once you decide that this is for you, you should contact the office. You can either email them or call them. They have a toll free number 1- (877)-337-6392. They will ask you to send your current x-rays and will study your case and get back to you with an estimate. It only took about a day to wait for it for us. If you are happy with the price and wanted to go forward, then the next step is for them to determine how many visits your treatment is expected to take. After that is established, you can see when they can schedule you and if that works with your schedule. Booking at least 3-5 months out would be good. They aren’t open on the weekends, so consider that if you are in a time crunch and think about how long you want to be in the chair per day. That could change to fewer or more days depending on your tolerance. Then once that is figured out, they will have you fill out a patient history form that you can do via email. Lastly, book your flight and hotel. Boom! You are on your way to a new smile.
Was the dentist office clean and professional? The dental office was state-of-the-art and like I previously said, even nicer than most. I was so impressed. The front desk staff was so professional and dressed in business clothes. Everyone looked on point. The clinical team was also very professional, well-groomed wearing scrubs, caring and took their time in explaining every single step. The sterilization area was exactly like any I see in the US and all instruments were autoclaved and bagged in heat indicated sterilization pouches. The operatories were spotless and the dental team all wore proper PPE (personal protective equipment). They had my husband wear eye protection on all of the procedures and during his surgical procedure they set a sterile environment, had him wear a gown, hat and eye protection and the doctor wore a gown, gloves, mask, face shield and hat as well.
Was there a language barrier? There was no language barrier at all. Every single staff member spoke fluent English. I also noticed that on the four visits we had there, we never saw one local as a patient. Every single person was from the USA. I asked Dr. Marin about that and she said that 90% of their patients are from the USA. Being in the waiting room most of the time while my husband was being treated, I got to talk to many other patients about their experience. I told them I was a dental hygienist and a travel blogger and was sharing this story with others in hopes of helping people consider this as an option for getting dental care.
Each person I spoke with was from the US, from places like Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, California, you name it. They all had nothing but positive things to say. Many have gotten full mouth restorations, including multiple implants, bone grafts and sinus lifts and some have been going there for years for all of their dental treatments and only getting routine check ups and cleanings in the US. They all gushed about Dr. Meza and his amazing work and meticulousness. I saw some of the work that he has done on these patients and it was simply flawless. Coincidentally, on our very first visit, there was a patient in the waiting room that when we started chatting with him, told us he was a dentist from Boston and only would get dental treatment done there. He and his other dentist friends all go there on a regular basis for any dental work. He said he highly recommends them. That was a great start to our visit and it only got better from there.
How were the finances handled? Do they take credit cards? They accepted credit cards or cash in USD. Once they examine you, take photos and any other necessary x-rays they may need, and you have a treatment plan that you have decided to go forward with it, they have you pay 50% on your first visit. Then you pay the remaining balance on your last visit. In the case of an implant (like my husband), you will need to return to finish around six months later. You do not have to pay that until you go back for that treatment. They do however, put that in your treatment plan to be aware of the cost as a whole.
Do you know the cost ahead of time? Yes and no. The reason I say this is it depends on if you have digital x-rays that you can send them ahead of time. I highly suggest this. If you go to a dentist in the US and they took x-rays, it is your right to have a copy of them. It is also best to have them be as current as possible. If you send them the x-rays, they can give you an estimate on what they can see through the radiographs, but it also depends on what you want done. For instance, we weren’t sure if we were going to go through with an implant or do a bridge instead, so the price would be different depending on which we decided. They are very good about giving you different options depending on what would be best in your case, and also dependent on how much you can afford.
What advice would you give to someone from the USA considering this option? My best advice is to go to a dentist in the US and get x-rays and a treatment plan and get a copy. That way you can send it to them and they can get a better understanding of what you need to get done. I would also try to give them as much notice as possible, to better be able to organize your appointments easier. Also, to realize that in cases where you need extensive work, you may have to stay up to two weeks for all the appointments necessary and you may also have to go back. ex. implants
Another note about the San Jose area is the driving is awful. We rented a car because we wanted to explore other areas, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Meza Dental Care offers transportation to and from the airport and to all of your dental visits if you stay in the San Jose area. This is what we will be doing at our next visit. Also, many patients stay at the Radisson, which is very close and a decent hotel in the area. We will probably stay there too next time. This visit we ended up driving all over the place, which in hindsight, wasn’t a very practical plan, but I’m a travel blogger and this was also a family vacation, so we wanted to see as much as we could. However, we did get to see a lot of the different areas of Costa Rica such as the ocean, the jungle and the mountains, but if you are there for dental treatment, its best to just stay close by and not drive at all. You can always extend your trip after all your dental visits are complete, like a lot of the other patients told me they did.
Here is a breakdown of cost of what my husband needed for dental treatment and how I saved $7,000 for dental work in Costa Rica in comparison of how much the same treatment would cost in the US. (This is the most current prices of dental treatment in the Boston area. It may vary, depending on what part of the country you live.)
- post (anterior tooth)= $150.00
- crown build up=$75.00
- upper partial-acrylic base=$350.00
- extraction-single tooth=$95.00
- root canal-one specialist=$350.00
- osseous graft (single site)=$500
- endosseous implant=$800.00
- connection surgery (for implant)= $150.00
- abutment crown-Cast Noble Metal= $850
- TOTAL COST IN COSTA RICA=$3,320.00
- post (anterior tooth)= $438.00
- crown build up=$375.00
- upper partial-acrylic base=$1250.00
- extraction-single tooth=$397.00
- root canal-one specialist=$1097.00
- osseous graft (single site)=$1,550
- endosseous implant=$2650.00+ restorative
- connection surgery (for implant)= $875.00
- abutment crown-Cast Noble Metal= $1800
- TOTAL COST IN THE USA=$10,432.00+
That is a savings of $7,112.00!! Even with the cost of plane tickets, hotel, and food, it still worked out to be a savings and we got to visit Costa Rica! This would be even more worth it if you needed multiple implants, which many of the patients who go to Meza Dental Care need. For example; If you needed four implants, the total savings would be over $14,000! I don’t know about you, but I would love to have an extra 14K in my pocket!
In conclusion, I am extremely happy with every single step of the process and the dental care we received at Meza Dental Care, San Jose, Costa Rica. They have “dental tourism” down to a science. As a dental professional and as a wife of someone who was a patient there, I can attest to their professionalism, quality of their dental work, and exceptional personalized care. I can’t speak highly enough about this dental office. Each dentist my husband was treated by; whether it be Dr. Marin for his general treatments, Dr. Meza for his surgical extraction, bone graft and implant, or their endodontist, Dr. Hernandez, for his root canal, was highly skilled in their specialty. If you are considering going to Costa Rica and Meza Dental Care, specifically, but are on the fence, I hope this will assist with your decision to go for it.
I wrote this article to show how I saved $7,000 for dental work in Costa Rica in hopes of helping others to be able to get quality dental care at an affordable price, who otherwise couldn’t due to the high costs of dental care in the US. It may be a bit of “outside of the box” kind of thinking, but I assure you, that you will not regret it if you chose this route. When we go back in six months for my husband to get his implant finished, we are also bringing his mom to get dental work done that she has needed for years. She would have NEVER done such a thing, nor would ever think of it, if we didn’t pave the way for her. She thought we were crazy. Who’s crazy now?