If we still lived in a house, I would simply go to my regular dentist, pay him big bucks, and hardly mention the subject on my blog. We all go to doctors and dentists, how interesting can it be?
But because we are full time RVers, and I know that several readers want to know more about going to the dentist in Mexico, I'm posting a full report.
I went to Sani Dental Group in Los Algodones, Mexico. I have been there before and have been satisfied with their work and prices. When I posted before about this, I did not quite understand the price information or the time involved. I figured it would cost about $950 for an implant, and take between three and five days. Wrong. The price for the implant on their web site was for the implant post only, not for the crown that it supports. Their $750 implant, which upon looking back at it does clearly state "implant only" is for their cheapest post which was not recommended for the condition of my upper jawbone. Mine cost $850. The crown itself will be another $650. I also had to pay $40 for removing a bit of root still there, $75 for the 3-D X-ray, $150 for some laser trimming, and $150 for a temporary removable tooth. It all adds up to almost $2000. But that is still half of what a US dentist would charge. Again, when I went back and looked at the price information on Sani's web page, this was all listed. I just didn't understand what was all involved.
The other thing I did not understand was that they implant the post and then wait six months before the crown is put on. That is what the removable temporary tooth is for. It has to be removed to eat.
Again this really isn't too bad for us. We plan on spending much of the winter months in the Southwest. I asked the dentist if five months is long enough because then it would be more convenient for us. He said it would probably be OK, but if I wasn't healed enough they would recommend waiting another month. So we will see how it goes time-wise.
I had an appointment for a diagnostic exam on Monday.
Going to the dentist in Los Algodones is unlike going to the dentist in the USA. In the case of Sani Dental, they have three locations in just a few blocks. Having forgotten to ask which we were to go to, we went to the one where we had work done most recently. I checked in, they called the other location and said my appointment was at the main location, but did the Xray where we needed anyway. Once it was finished, they put it on a CD-R and one of their people walked us over to the main location a few blocks away.
When Craig had some work done there a few years ago, we started at the main location and were walked over to the second office.
Waiting is a major part of going to the dentist in Mexico. Be ready to spend the day. If you have a noon appointment, you might be seen by 12:30 or 1:00. The desk help seems to understand English quite well, but also seems mystified by any computer screen that shows your appointment time or and other information that you so carefully submitted online.
After awhile I was called in for my diagnostic exam. In addition to checking things out for the implant, they advised me that I need considerable additional dental work. I have taken that under advisement for now. They used a camera that displayed close ups of my teeth on an overhead screen. Showing me good crowns in my mouth, and six that are failing. At the time I didn't want to hear about them, but I may have them worked on next spring. I think I have a few months to consider what to do.
I have to point out that they in no way pressure you to have any work done. They say that, in the diagnostic appointment, they want to show you everything and it is up to you what you want done. The estimate for having six crowns replaced was just over $1000. In the states you can easily pay $1000 or more per crown.
I decided to just do the implant for now.
My appointment for Tuesday was at 10 AM. Of course we arrived a bit early, but had to wait until almost 11 AM for anything to happen. While we waited, my information was verified and I was given a Valium to relax me.
I was then taken into a room and impressions were taken. These were for the temporary tooth partial.
Then I was sent back to the waiting area.
Eventually they were ready for me. In another small room I was introduced to another doctor and his assistant. The assistant spoke English very well and conveyed my question to the doctor.
My main concern was that they were going to us lots of Novocain!
The answer was: "of course." I have to interject that, for me, getting the Novocain shot is the scariest part of any dental experience. I have had some dentist who were real butchers! I am happy to report that this Mexican dentist was wonderful at this: the shots were almost painless.
Once I was numb, he pulled the remaining root from my jaw, cleaned it up, drilled a hole in the bone, screwed in the implant, and sewed it all up. I felt no real pain, and I the procedure seemed well done.
I was then sent back into the waiting room again.
At some point they sent a runner to the pharmacy for pain meds, ibuprofen and antibiotic amoxicillin. I paid $17 cash to the runner.
More waiting, and as the novocain started wearing off I started to hurt! I took a pain pill.
The next step was laser trimming. I was again taken into a little room and another technician and another dentist did a laser procedure. Once again I asked the technician for an explanation of what and why. The laser burns the tissue around the implant and kills any possible infection. Because I was still a bit numb, there was no discomfort.
Back to the waiting room. It was now almost 2:00, and we were told the temporary tooth might be ready by 3:00.
At this point I was really starting to hurt a LOT. I had taken a pain pill earlier, and was afraid to take another on an empty stomach, so Craig went out in search of something soft for me to eat. After a bit he came back with a large cup of chicken soup that the vendor had put through a blender. It worked: I got something in my tummy, took a half dose of the pain med and started to feel much better.
Before 3:00 we were escorted back over to the other location. After a bit of a wait I was met by the same doctor that did the implant at the main location, and he took me to one of the many little rooms. He fit the temporary tooth and his assistant explained that I should remove it to eat. And in fact until I was healed, I should limit putting it in. The temporary is for cosmetic purposes only.
Although I had significant discomfort (REAL PAIN) in the first few hours, I have to report that by five hours later, as I write most of this, I have no pain at all, and have been quite comfortable for several hours. Update: I woke up the next morning with no discomfort at all. But, I took one more pain pill, just in case, and will take all of the antibiotic as prescribed.
I am confident that I will have no problems.
So for now, I say this was an OK experience. Believe me, I will tell you about any complications!
Still toothless in Yuma, but on my way to having a nice smile by February !