Another story of problems with dental work in Costa Rica

It’s a different mentality, these dental bargain-hunters, who seek to save money by getting dental work done in Mexico or Costa Rica. I can’t relate to this degree of risk-taking. They must not understand all the things that can go wrong in dental treatment.

With dental implants, especially. Even done in this country, dental implants treatment is poorly regulated. Providing dental implants should be a specialty, but the entrenched powers in the dental profession don’t see it in their interest to make it so. Independent regulatory bodies have arisen: the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. Dentists can pursue certification with either of these organizations. But those certifications are not recognized by the American Dental Association or dental boards, and so any dentist can legally provide dental implant treatment without any extra training at all. As a result, there is a high rate of dental malpractice in dental implantology.

But when people go to foreign countries in search of a bargain, they are on even shakier ground. I get e-mails from these people occasionally, wondering what they can do when they have run into trouble with their treatment. The answer is that they really have no recourse.

I have one e-mail I received a week ago from a woman from Chicago who went down to Costa Rica for dental implants work. She ended up with twelve teeth on the upper jaw, but only eight on the lower jaw. The back four teeth on her upper jaw have no opposing teeth and are therefore useless. What can she do now? Nothing, really. She says she keeps e-mailing the dentist for an explanation and he is ignoring her.

What will she do next year when the dental implants begin getting loose? If that happens, that will make her present complaints pale in comparison.

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