Dental care is less expensive here in Panama. People travel here for care and even with travel expenses, they save money. So, we decided to wait until we were here to get any further dental care.
My husband needed a bridge. He is missing teeth in the lower jaw in the back of his mouth, teeth that are important for chewing. We all cringe when we hear “bridge”, thinking of the big sucking sound we will hear as large sums are drained from the bank account.
The first appointment was a consultation. The plan was agreed on – remove two crowns, use those teeth to attach a permanent bridge.
The second appointment was to start the work. Crowns were removed, impressions were made, temporary crowns were installed, and impressions were taken to the lab. I was in the waiting room when the man from the lab arrived. The dentist came out with the impressions, and the two men stood at the desk and discussed the bridge at great length, discussing in detail how it was to be, how the teeth were going to fit together with the upper teeth, with the neighboring teeth, something about this surface this, that surface, this space, etc. Then, the lab man put everything in a little plastic baggie and left. The temporary crowns were put back on, and we were told we would get a phone call when the bridge was ready.
It was only a few days later when the phone rang. The metal part of the bridge was ready and the dentist wanted to check it for fit before the porcelain teeth were put on it. It fit so well that the dentist has a little trouble getting it off the anchor teeth! The temporary crowns were put back on, and we were to wait for the next phone call.
Then, we waited a little over a week for the next call (keep in mind New Years landed in this week so there was holiday time) The bridge was ready. The dentist installed it, and very carefully fitted, filed, checked, and fussed until everything was perfect. My husband said he was absolutely meticulous about getting everything just so.
That was three days ago. My husband has had no discomfort, no problems whatsoever, no adjustment period, nothing. He says from the very start, the bridge feels as comfortable as if he had natural teeth there. I would think there would be some stress on the anchor teeth, something that would feel different and take some settling in but he says no. It felt just fine from the very beginning.
We feel that he got very good care, excellent work was done, and the dentist is kind and gentle. What do you think you would pay for this in the US? Here, it was $750 for everything. I’ve paid more than that for a single crown, with dental insurance!
A couple other things I noticed –
People arrive and greet everyone (individually) in the waiting room. It seems to be a Panamanian way of coming in to a room. I’ve seen it in other places where people are waiting.
This dental office has three people, two dentists and one assistant. The assistant helps the dentists as needed, answers the phone, makes appointments, and does anything else that needed in the office. I remember my dentist’s office in the US. There were two part time dentists in the practice, two hygienists, two assistants, and three office people to answer phones, make appointments, keep charts in order, submit charts for billing/payment, and who knows what else. That’s seven people for two part time dentists. We wonder why care is so expensive in the US?
Next up – take Ma to the lab for a blood test, and then to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup. Further reports will be coming.
The picture up above is the happy patient with the good dentist, who by the way speaks excellent English as well.