May 07 2012

Paul’s Monthly Tip to Live for Less in Costa Rica: Visiting the Dentist

(Udated 8/17/15)

Generally, dentistry is a good deal in Costa Rica. In 2010, Costa Rica had 36,000 medical tourists and 51% of those were for dentistry. Most people hate to go to the dentist, but go anyway, as one of those necessary evils we endure to keep our smiles bright and healthy.


My dentist has over 17 years experience. I like her because she’s the most focused dentist I’ve ever known, and because of her level of concentration, she does good work. When she’s working on me, it’s just her eyes, her skilled hands, and my mouth. She allows for no interruptions. She has an assistant to answer the phone and hand her instruments.

Her prices are very good too. A cleaning and visual checkup are only 20,000 colones ($38). Incidentally, the dentist does the cleaning herself, while using a high powered lighted lens to see all of your dental defects. During my cleaning, she found two cavities, and next visit, filled them with resin for $40 each. Her office is humble, with few outer frills as a dental office might have in the States. Nothing fancy here.

She’s busy too. She’s got lots of clients and that made me feel good. We received recommendations from two different Ticos before we went to see her for the first time. I recently had bite-wing x-rays done at a cost of $18. Panoramic x-rays are available for about $30. She also does Zoom whitening, which I may do in the future.

On one visit, I spent 30 minutes in the dental chair. She did a little work on some small cracks, inspected my teeth, determined I didn’t need to come back for six months, and charged me $0. I figured her time and expertise were worth something. I even asked her “What do I owe you?” and she said, “Nothing.” It didn’t seem fair, but I’m not complaining.

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