Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

March 5, 2016

Dentistry in Costa Rica

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I’ve written before warning about getting dental work done in Costa Rica. But I just became aware of an incident that truly highlights the risks. Because I am only able to partially confirm this patient’s claims, I am not publishing the name of the dentist, which she had provided, only her story because it illustrates the risks in dental tourism.

dental tourism in Costa Rica

Dr. Hall,
I went to Doctor [name withheld] at [name withheld] Dental Clinic just outside of San Jose Costa Rica for some dental work and to have porcelain veneers placed. The dentist broke one tooth and caused me to need three root canals. He left me with ten open margins, I had crowns pop off, and he screwed up my bite so badly that I now suffer from severe TMJ, constant pain, can’t eat or speak properly etc… I have an estimate of $35,000 to fix my bite (which I don’t have) which doesn’t include the root canals. He refuses to refund the small fortune that I paid him and refuses to pay to have my teeth fixed.

But the story gets worse.

After my follow-up with an American dentist who said that I was the victim of criminal negligence, I hired a Costa Rican attorney. We were able to get three Costa Rican dentists to concur with the American dentist. We met at the Dental Colegio. But all that mattered at the Colegio board meeting was the fact that I complained publicly about Doctor [name withheld]. It was explained to me that it is a felony to speak against the reputation of a Costa Rican citizen unless or until that person has first been found guilty of a crime in a Costa Rican court of law. It did not matter that I filed those complaints online about the dentist from my own home in America. I had to flee Costa Rica immediately to avoid being arrested.

As far as filing criminal charges or a lawsuit, my attorney told me that the dentist would just bribe an official and make the case go away. My only hope was with the Costa Rican dental Colegio and they cared nothing about justice. Their legal system in Costa Rica is very corrupt. There is no justice there for Americans.

I also learned that this dentist didn’t graduate from a dental school in Miami as it claims on his website. He only took a class there.

– Kimberly from Florida

I thought I would just pass on Kimberly’s experience here, as there isn’t much I can do to help other than to help publicize her plight. I did look up the dentist she mentioned, and the website looks very inviting and gives you the feeling that you’re going to get wonderful care. The credentials presented look legitimate. However, as a dentist, I noticed some red flags that I think would escape the normal patient. For example, this dentist claims to have had a minor in implant dentistry from Miami University, as Kimberly mentioned. But there is no such thing as a minor or major or any organized course of study in implant dentistry at any American school—it isn’t a recognized specialty. He also claims to have a minor in Orthodontics and Prosthodontics from the DaVinci Institute. Besides the fact that this makes no sense—there are no “minors” in any dental field in the United States, only majors. And the combination of those two specialty areas in dentistry is made up. If minors did exist, he would have two separate minors—one in Orthodontics and one in Prosthodontics. Besides this, the DaVinci Institute is a think tank in Colorado. It may sound dental because of the famous DaVinci Dental Studio in California (a renowned dental laboratory that makes porcelain veneers), but there is nothing dental about the DaVinci Institute. Then, googling the dentist’s name and the name of his clinic, I discovered that the name of the clinic had been recently changed, a tactic used to escape a bad reputation. Also, there are no Google reviews for this dentist or his clinic, under either of its names, which is very strange. These are all red flags. But they would escape the typical dental patient.

I also found another serious complaint filed against this dentist on the website ripoffreport.com.

Bottom line: Beware! Just don’t do it. Both implant dentistry and beautiful cosmetic dentistry are risky enough in the United States. Don’t compound it by going to a place where you have poor standards of care and absolutely no legal recourse in case something goes wrong.
– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

1 Comment »

  1. Great post.

    Comment by dentist — June 15, 2016 @ 11:18 am

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