Feeling brave? Or maybe just desperate! Yes, you can get dental work done in the Dominican Republic! If you thinking of moving to a “developing country” likely one of the last things on your mind is getting permanent dental work done while you are here. However when you get here the option is to just live with the problem or fly back to the States (or where ever you are from originally) and have the work done there. That may not be necessary though.
Recently after breaking a molar I needed to make the decision, live with an exposed nerve or get some local dental work done. If you have ever had a broken tooth that was exposing a nerve you can guess that making the decision didn’t take long. Actually my decision had a little other help. Over that last few years I have noticed that several of my friends that travel back and forth to the states have a tendency of waiting until they get back to the DR to get most of their dental work done. The reason is pretty simple, it is a whole lot cheaper to have it done here. But is it safe?
My dental experience in the DR
One thing is for sure, it is a lot different getting work done here than it is back home. First it is a good idea to get some recommendations before you choose which chair to sit in. As in any other country, some people are more skilled and more careful than others. It’s best to find out from others instead of being a guinea pig (as in test subject for those of your unfamiliar with this poor animals fate) yourself.
For me, I had a couple friends that actually live in the US and come back here to have work done on their braces as well as other work done and they all use the same doctor. This helped me to have the confidence to give it a shot. So, off I went.
Strangely enough this doctor isn’t in Santiago, Santo Domingo, Punta Cana or one of the other larger cities. I didn’t even have to head over to La Vega, no, she is in Fantino. If you don’t know where that is, don’t worry neither do most Dominicans! It is a small town between La Vega and Cotui and is just larger than a campo town.
First the appointment, or lack of. Not knowing the phone number to the office (or more likely the receptionists cell phone number), I stopped by the office to get an appointment. The Doctor in this case only works in the afternoon, likely because she by law has to donate a large amount of her time to free hospitals. So, I was told to come back in the afternoon after lunch. No Appointment, you just show up.
All health work here seems to be on a first come first serve basis. When I got there in the afternoon there were already 8 people ahead of me. Hint number one (or is that 2 or 3?), bring reading material when ever you go to the doctors, unless you get there a half hour to an hour before the office opens you are going to have to wait.
Unlike most offices in the States, there is only one dentist chair. None of this sitting around while you get numb or having a nurse do some of the prep work. When you get called in, you take the one seat available and they try to get you out as soon as possible.
One thing that I missed so far, knowing ahead of time that Dentist and most doctors offices do not do their own xrays I had already went to La Vega and had xrays done of my mouth so she could check to see if any other work needed to be done.
After sitting down in front of her desk and describing that I had a broke tooth and if possible I would like a cap put on it I was directed to the dental chair. After a quick inspection it was decided that there wasn’t enough tooth to try putting a crown on and the dreaded “sacarlo” word was uttered. Yep, it’s gonna get pulled!
Keeping with the theme of getting the patient out of the chair as soon as possible, she went right to work, sprayed a little anesthetic around the gums waited about 15 seconds and used what looked like 4-5 injections to numb the area. I’m pretty sure a doctor in the states would only use 2 or three. But then in the states I would usually sit there for 10 minutes or more for things to completely numb. Here, 2-3 minutes later it’s time to get to business.
In short I think the whole process took less than 15-20 minutes once I got into the back room. That includes paying the doctor (bring cash). Total price 800 pesos or about $20US dollars and I’m out the door. She gave me a prescription for pain which I got filled for less than $5 for 6 pills. These are open ended prescriptions so I can go back as many times as I want (little different than the states).
While dentistry is never fun, other that the actual visit taking far less time and the cost being far, far less, I would say things went as well as in the states and she did a good job. Once my mouth heals up I might even go back and try for a cleaning!