We Went to the Dentist

Joel had a problem with a filling, so a trip to the dentist was in order. We had been going to Dr Spiegel but he was appointed ambassador to Singapore! His practice is still active though, and is being maintained by other dentists who come in to cover.

Joel went in last week and the filling was fixed ($25). Yesterday he had an appointment for a cleaning (many dentists don’t even require appointments. You just walk in and wait your turn. But, us gringos who are used to appointments like the appointment system too). Anyway, the cleaning appointment… I went with him this time.

It turns out that the dentist is a very lovely woman who lives in our neighborhood about three blocks away! What a small world. He liked her so much that I wanted to go meet her, and while I was there she was happy to clean my teeth too ($30 each, done by the dentist. There is an assistant and a secretary in the office but no hygienists). We had so much fun talking that it is a wonder we got the cleaning done 😀

I didn't take pictures of the dentist, so instead you get to see pictures of Panama this morning in another absolutely beautiful morning.

I didn’t take pictures of the dentist, so instead you get to see another absolutely beautiful morning in Panama.

I have had trouble with my teeth pretty much all of my life. I went in for cleanings every three months. I had the gum surgery (I’d rather lose teeth than do that again!), I had many deep cleanings, I used the water pick every time I ate along with flossing and brushing but if I let up for an instant on my constant care, my gums would start to bleed. They were always measuring my pockets and tisk tisking, and I have lost one of my back teeth entirely.

I came to Panama and my dental problems were GONE! Immediately! It’s crazy. The water pick is gathering dust. I still floss after eating and if  I’m even somewhat consistent with that my gums never bleed. I went for cleaning every six months with Dr. Spiegel and he always said everything was fine. This time though, I hadn’t been in for well over a year. She said I had some cemento (tartar) on my teeth but other than that everything looked fine, no gum disease, no cavities, no problems, nothing.

Why is this?! I haven’t changed my diet much, but I think the fruits and vegetables are fresher since they are grown so close by. I have a lower stress life because I’m not working, but maybe higher stress navigating a new culture and language as I adapted to living here, at least at first (and we won’t mention living with mother in law). I am happier and I have stronger connections to my friends, neighbors, and the people around me. I think happiness and connections need to be given more credit in physical health. But even with all these points, why did it change so quickly after arriving, before I had barely settled in and started to make friends? I noticed I also felt generally better within a month of arriving and I have a feeling it’s the fresh produce. Here it’s grown for flavor, not appearance, and it only spends hours in shipping, not days or weeks. Maybe it has nutrients we don’t even realize we are missing when things are shipped in from a long ways away. Who knows, but I am very happy for my improved dental and general health.

I love beautiful skies with interesting clouds, and today you can see this everywhere you look.

I love beautiful skies with interesting clouds, and today you can see this everywhere you look.

We have found that if you need dental care here, it is much more affordable and of very good quality. If any of you need a dentist here let me know. This lady doesn’t speak English, but if that is necessary a friend raves about another dentist who does speak English.




About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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23 Responses to We Went to the Dentist

  1. Robert&Helen. says:

    All true. Gum operation is generally useless. Just to fill the pocket of a dentist. Many people who were drinking a lot of Pepsi or Coke can get easily gum disease. I am one of them. Eating a lot of fresh fruits helps.


    • Maybe it was all the fresh fruit here. I don’t drink soda anyway, don’t need the sugar and calories. And, it makes you wonder if all the care I was getting was making me worse instead of better.


  2. Hi Kris
    I will take you up on the Dentist. I need cleaning and up here in Canada it’s too expensive for me because they insist on doing the whole nine yards, check-up x-rays etc before they even think of cleaning and then they re schedule you for that. So I am interested and the price is amazing.

    Meanwhile I’m trying to store some sleep. Monday will be a very long day, as I need to be up at 2.30 AM to leave for Toronto to catch my flight, and arrive in Panama City at 9 PM. I have to call the hotel to see if their shuttle is still running at that time or I will need to cab it.
    Then the next day the bus.

    And finally my new home for 4 months.



    • OK, when you get settled we’ll fix you up. I know what you mean about the whole nine yards. Expensive and frustrating.
      I hope you can sleep on the plane. What hotel are you staying at?


      • Hotel Costa Inn, your recommendation I think .


        • Oh good, you are fine then. You need Viajes Floencia. Look for a lady at the airport in an orange vest or shirt with that name on it. She should be out where everyone waits for arriving guests, just before you go outside where the taxis wait. There is an information desk there too where there might be someone to help you if you don’t spot the lady. The lady (I hope it’s not a guy on your day!) when she sees you need a ride she will send you to sit down and wait, and call you when the van arrives. I arrived a bit later than you and she was there. Once I arrived at 2AM and had to call the hotel, but they sent the van out for me. They also have a van to Albrook Mall (right next to the bus terminal) at 11AM I think, if you aren’t in a hurry. Otherwise just get a taxi, $5-7.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks again for information such as this. It cost me $360 to see a dentist in Alaska this past summer. If I wanted a cleaning it was another $100+. I hadn’t been for a while because of the cost. I agree with you about teeth issues as well. I notice my teeth do better here in AZ, lots more ‘fresh’ produce.
    I visited Costa Rica for a couple weeks last winter and I felt like I had gone through a good detox~everything just ran better. I believe whole heartedly I would function better on a whole if I lived there.
    Again, thanks for sharing your day to day living ~ it is a huge help as we continue to ponder where we may go next!


    • The cost of dental care in the US is crazy! And, unfortunately no one seems to realize it affects your total health so health insurance or medicare or anything else won’t cover it. I came down here with a broken tooth that would have cost $1000 for the crown, and here it was $250 and he did excellent work, very picky, had to be sure it was absolutely perfect.
      Interesting discussions here. It seems I am not the only one who has done better in the tropics.
      Thanks for the comments, and I’m glad you enjoy the blog 🙂



    I agree. Gum operations are the worse ! They actually harm your gums permanently.
    And to think that you have to pay for it ! Its an outrage.
    By the way, using your Water Pick is faster and more effective than flossing !
    Since I started using my Water Pick, I never had any new cavities. Yes , WOW !


    • Oh great, all that pain and expense to do harm? sheesh.
      I like the water pick but I can’t use it with cold water. That means here it would have to be in the kitchen where there is power, warm water, and counter space. I guess it just got to be too much trouble especially since I was doing so much better.


  5. Ken Kimsey says:

    So, since your gum problems when away, did you even have an occasion to connect with a periodontist in David? I may need to find one when I get there.


  6. Ken Kimsey says:

    Well, of course, I meant “WENT” away, not “when away.” My fingers are working faster than my eyes. Speaking of which, do you know any ophthalmologists in David or Boquete?


    • I didn’t even notice until I read this.
      We took my mother in law to an ophthalmologist at Mae Lewis hospital in David, so that would be a good place to start. I don’t think there is that much going on in Boquete so for any specialists you’d have to come to David.


  7. Kris, I went through the same problems as you! I had two gum surgeries and lost one tooth. Amazingly, I do not have any more dental problems either. I am not sure why, but tropical living must have something to do with it and lack of stress as well. I’m glad you wrote this post because I never really thought about how moving to Nicaragua would improve my teeth. 🙂


    • You too?! Well that is very interesting. Really, who would have thought it would help your teeth? Now this makes me wonder if other people get better in the tropics and if so, why, and could that knowledge help others.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Brad says:

    Read this very interesting

    Cleaning $25.00 Filling $30.00


  9. Veronica Perez says:

    Yes my husband and I will be wanting the dentist’s details when we arrive next year! He’s Canadian-Guatemalan so he can translate for me (Australian). I’m thinking David would be a good place for us to rent while we explore Panama and decide where/what we are going to do. He has experience running businesses in Central America so I’m hoping it won’t be so much of a shock for us as it might be for others – but I’m really enjoying your blog Kris – especially the cost of living segment as much of what is online elsewhere seems outdated.


    • I’m sure it’s an adjustment for anyone moving to a different country but your husband’s Spanish will be very helpful.
      Just let me know when you arrive and I’ll get you in touch with the dentist.
      Thanks, glad you enjoy the blog 🙂


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