Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

July 28, 2016

Should I get my crowns done in Costa Rica?


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Dr. Hall,
I am debating on going to Costa Rica to get my 12 crowns replaced. I have 6 on the top and 6 on the bottom. In Costa Rica they do everything in a lab and it takes two weeks ( So I have to stay 2 weeks, which isn’t a bad thing except the time I can go it will be raining). I am just curious what my options are here in Arizona since I just moved here. I am looking for natural-looking teeth and would like a dentist that doesn’t make my teeth look like they came from a cookie cutter so to speak. In Costa Rica I can get all of my teeth done for around $6000. Not including the travel and hotels etc. Is there anything comparable to that here in Arizona that you know of?
– Tanya from Arizona
dentistry in Costa Rica
Tanya,
I have a question for you before you go to Costa Rica to have your crowns done. Do you think there is any possibility that anything could go wrong in the process of getting twelve crowns?

I’ll give you the answer to that question–yes, there are any number of things that could go wrong. Let me list some of them for you, off the top of my head:

These are the first twelve things that came to mind, of problems I have either seen or patients have told me about when they had multiple crowns done. It isn’t an exhaustive list.

And then here is a link to an earlier blog post I wrote about dentistry in Costa Rica. A woman wrote to me about crown and porcelain veneer work she had done there. She ended up having four of these things on the list go wrong, and some things that aren’t on my list. Another dentist told her that what was done to her by this Costa Rica dentist was criminal negligence. But when she tried to get satisfaction, SHE ended up being the person in legal trouble, because of the corrupt legal system in Costa Rica. She has an estimate of $35,000 to fix the damage this dentist caused.

Even with excellent dental care, with that many crowns there is often something that will go wrong during the treatment. It appears that if that happens to you in Costa Rica, you’ll end up stuck.

If you want to save some money and you’re in Arizona, one option could be to go to Dr. Isaías Íñiguez. He is actually AACD accredited and has a practice in Los Algodones, Mexico, just across the border from Yuma, Arizona. He charges Mexican fees for what I believe is high quality cosmetic dentistry. Check him out.

– Dr. Hall

Do you have a comment or a question or anything else to add? We’d love to hear from you. Enter your comment below.

Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question of your own.

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.

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

Do you have a comment? We’d love to hear from you. Enter your comment below.

Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question of your own.

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.

April 12, 2012

Should I go to Clear Choice or Costa Rica for my dental implants?

Your website only discusses Clear Choice as a provider of the all on 4 implant procedures. I went in for a 3d x-ray and initial eval at both Clear Choice (CC) and EON. My experience with CC was consistent with the experiences of others reflected on your website. EON seemed much better. In particular, the head of the EON clinic spoke with me. Apparently he used to be associated or partnered with CC. He stated that he left CC because he did not like the practice of abandoning the patients once they had the procedure done. Also according the the “evaluation done at CC and reported to me by the sales rep, I was a fine candidate for the procedure. The dentist from EON referred to the x-ray and mentioned several consideration that needed to be evaluated. Ultimately he stated that they could make the necessary modifications to allow insertion of the implants without bone grafting. If any of this seems odd or false, please let me know. I figured you might benefit from my description of the initial meetings with the 2 local competitors in Chicago area. Thank you. Mike Burke My next step, in addition to scouring the internet for justification and knowledge is to consider going out of the country to have the implants put in. Costa Rica?

Mike from Chicago

Mike,
I don’t understand. You are unhappy with the idea that you would go to Clear Choice and get dental implants and they wouldn’t have any follow-up. And for THAT you are going to Costa Rica? What kind of follow-up do you think they have in Costa Rica? Do you think THEY will call you for a checkup and a cleaning?

Having dental implants placed, even in the United States, is a risky procedure. We are seeing so much malpractice in this area. Dentists are getting into it without adequate training, and the standards of care are not well established because it isn’t a recognized specialty and is fairly unregulated.

But take the worst dentists you have in the United States, and remove ALL quality control standards that even they have, and that’s what you’ll have when you go to Costa Rica. If you are a brave soul, you could try getting crowns or bridgework done in Costa Rica, because you could always have those re-done if something goes wrong. But when something goes wrong with implant dentistry, you could end up a dental cripple, maybe with practically no jawbone. They could accidentally place implants in your nerve canal, in your nasal sinuses, they could perforate the bone. Infection could set in. The implants could be too short or too thin. They could be placed under load prematurely. They could come loose. If they place cheap fixtures, they could lack precise tolerances, which would leave openings for infection and coming loose. The fixtures could corrode. You could get peri-implantitis. There are so many things that could go wrong with dental implants. At least in the United States you might have some legal recourse if things go bad.

I am not a fan of Clear Choice. As you were told, they do not have any follow-up contact with you. We have numerous reports of high-pressure sales tactics. And the all-on-four is a risky procedure – if anything goes wrong later with any one of the four implants they place, the entire case will have to be re-done. But you are far better off having this done by Clear Choice than going down to Costa Rica. If you want the best care, my recommendation would be to find a solo practitioner with expertise in dental implants. Look for credentials from either the International Congress of Oral Implantologists or from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

There are other dentists who do the all-on-4 procedure in the Chicago area. Dr. Anthony LaVacca in Naperville is one. He is a board-certified prosthodontist and is also implant surgery trained. If you are leery of the all-on-4 procedure, which I am, you may want to get a second opinion from Dr. William Cohen in Glenview, who used to be my dentist when I lived in Iowa.

But please, please, don’t go down to Costa Rica for dental implants, not if your quality of life is important to you.

Dr. Hall

We thank our advertisers who help fund this site.

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.

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