Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Open wide!

August 17—I’m hungry. Since Monday, we’ve been on a soft diet, because the temporary crowns in our mouths make it difficult to bite and chew.

Last Friday we went into Los Algodones and visited the dental office recommended by my sister’s friend. (The dentist the friend used was closed; we went to the practice’s other office.) As we were waiting, a retired American finished her appointment with the dentist. I asked her about her experience. She said she was very pleased with her implants and she highly recommended “Dr. Edgar,” the young dentist. I looked at her smile and was satisfied with what I saw.

Dr. Edgar speaks English, but to avoid confusion, he uses his assistant to translate. She is bilingual, and speaks English without an accent. He initially recommended 15 crowns and a root canal for Jim, and seven crowns (replacements) and the needed root canal for me. Over the weekend, though, we decided to “up the ante” and go all the way: What Dr. Edgar had recommended initially was just to correct apparent problems. It did not address Jim’s lower teeth, which were uneven. Nor did it address my front lower teeth, which over the years had become gapped. So on Monday, when we returned to begin our work, we discussed additional options.

The result: Jim has had a complete smile makeover (uppers and lowers), and I had a complete lower makeover. (I had all done in order for all teeth to match.)

A couple years ago Jim had visited two different dentists in Jacksonville, and had two estimates, which ranged between $30,000 and $40,000 for a makeover. My recent visit to the dentist to replace two crowns and have a root canal was about $2,000. So, when Dr. Edgar told us the total would be about $6,400—for both of us—we were elated.

Why are the prices so much less in Los Algodones than in the U.S.? One reason is because the facilities are plain-Jane. The dentist has all the modern equipment, but the office is very small and crowded. Another is because the dentist does all the work himself. In the U.S., I’ve only had one dentist in Chicago who kept his prices reasonable by working alone—no hygienist or assistant. That’s the way the Mexican dentists work.

Another thing: We each needed root canals (Jim ended up needing two, me one). Instead of our marching over to another office, the endodontist came to us. And, like the other dentist, he worked alone. (As a side note: I’ve had many root canals in the past. This specialist was better than most.)

It took only one visit for me, two for Jim, to prepare for the crowns. Unfortunately, we have to wait until Friday morning to get the permanent crowns, and until then we are on a soft diet, mainly because the temporaries are awkward. It feels like I am wearing a dental retainer. (I’ve had experience with temporaries before; they are all awkward—so this is not a reflection on the dental lab.)

We’ll extend our stay here until at least Sunday, just in case we have to return to have adjustments made. But I’m confident we will be pleased with the end result.

Until next time,

Your Reluctant RoVer

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