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Average Dental Costs
Old 08-15-2009, 08:51 PM   #1
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Average Dental Costs

A friend of mine who lives in South FLA was facing $35,000.00 in dental costs. Here it was only $5500.00 so he rented an apartment and traveled down 10 days a month for a year and still saved a bundle.

Recently I have been getting some work done and I was curious what it would cost in your neck of the woods.

Whitening-$50
Cavity/filling-$21
Root canal per tooth-$75
Porcelan crown-$160.00
Cleaning by Dentist-$15
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Old 08-15-2009, 09:14 PM   #2
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For $35K your friend must be having some serious dental work done. I've just checked my bills this year which included a crown, and cleaning.

cleaning was $40, insurance paid $36
porcelain crown was $1,211, insurance paid $522
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Old 08-15-2009, 09:22 PM   #3
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Just had a crown done - $600 total, with my share = $300, insurance paid $300.

I pay nothing for cleanings, included in 100% covered services by insurance. I get 4 done per year as ongoing prevention against recurrence of periodontal problems.
I've had some older fillings replaced, again at no cost to me.
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Old 08-16-2009, 06:31 AM   #4
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That's about one fourth or less of what I'm used to paying in Virginia. What about quality of work? Are you satistfied with the quality?
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Old 08-16-2009, 07:06 AM   #5
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A friend of mine who lives in South FLA was facing $35,000.00 in dental costs. Here it was only $5500.00 so he rented an apartment and traveled down 10 days a month for a year and still saved a bundle.

Recently I have been getting some work done and I was curious what it would cost in your neck of the woods.

Whitening-$50
Cavity/filling-$21
Root canal per tooth-$75
Porcelan crown-$160.00
Cleaning by Dentist-$15
I am a dentist in the DC metro area, and my supply costs alone exceed the pricing you quoted on every procedure. For instance- if you are getting a root canal done using state of the art technologies, the pack of single use Niti rotary files are $50, and you still have to pay for all the other stuff you need.

A state of the art porcelain crown with a zirconia oxide substructure has a lab bill of $175-350....and that doesn't include the cost of all the other materials needed to do the procedure.

Honestly I would give it some careful thought before getting work done overseas.
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Old 08-16-2009, 07:13 AM   #6
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I agree with Novaman about giving serious thought before having dental work done overseas, especially in countries where state of the art dentistry is vastly different from the U.S. standard. I would rather economize on other things before my health care. Preventive care is a lot cheaper than major restorative work so I think it pays to see your dentist at least every 6 months. Also, if you need follow up treatment, or encounter a problem, you want it done in a timely manner.
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Old 08-16-2009, 12:26 PM   #7
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The quality of the work (in Lima) is world class by any standard! The clinics themselves are modern state of the art facilities. Dental/cosmetic surgery tourism has taken off in the last 5 years that tourists travel from around the world and combine a trip to Macchu Picchu, Cusco,Nazca,etc often covering a substancial part of their vacation costs.

I have used several over the years and have been very happy with the quality and also less incidence of unnecessary work, which is all to often the problem in the USA.
Another aspect I like is that Dentists due not work on multiple clients at the same time and do not use dental hygienist to do their job.

I currently belong to a "Private Hospital" and prefer to use their Dental wing for myself and family. Here the dentists each have a specialty and are not in competition with each other (they get paid the same by the hospital regardless). One Dentist does "root canal" only and then another will do the crown. One draw back is they are very meticulous and I have had 5 visits just to fit one crown! Another drawback is that it takes a week to have the crown made.

My friend who needed $35,000 worth of work done completed it over a year and finished last March with nary a problem. This included 3 implants ($3800 here as opposed to $9,000 or more stateside).

On the other hand another friend who lives here, had two implants done and had a problem a few weeks later when he was stateside and the dentist would not treat him. He had to wait 4 weeks till he returned to get the problem corrected.

I think you should exercise caution and rely on the US Embassy and expat forums before choosing a doctor for any procedure!

Laser eye surgery is another popular choice for tourists but I have noticed many Peruvians go to Colombia for Cosmetic surgery, although i do not know why as the cost should be about the same!
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Old 08-16-2009, 12:34 PM   #8
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T........................ I have noticed many Peruvians go to Colombia for Cosmetic surgery, although i do not know why as the cost should be about the same!
I think it was Mark Twain that said that an expert was someone that lived at least 50 miles away.
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Old 08-16-2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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I am a dentist in the DC metro area, and my supply costs alone exceed the pricing you quoted on every procedure. For instance- if you are getting a root canal done using state of the art technologies, the pack of single use Niti rotary files are $50, and you still have to pay for all the other stuff you need.

A state of the art porcelain crown with a zirconia oxide substructure has a lab bill of $175-350....and that doesn't include the cost of all the other materials needed to do the procedure.

Honestly I would give it some careful thought before getting work done overseas.
I wonder how you can vet this stuff and find out whether the foreign dentists are using as good materials as the US dentists. It could very well be that they are getting materials at significantly reduced costs. In the US we understand licensing requirements for doctors and dentists but I don't know what they are in many other countries so I worry about that as well.

Dental work may be one of the larger areas of "medical tourism" as much is done on a non-emergency basis. Though getting implants would be a significant time commitment in the foreign country. And likely suing for malpractice isn't going to be an option.

I have debated buying a commonly used medication in Mexico when visiting there. It would be over the counter and considerably less expensive than in the US. On one hand I worry about quality. On the other hand, due to the nature of this drug if it didn't work there would be clear consequences to the person taking the drug. They would know it wasn't working. So far, too chicken.
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Old 08-16-2009, 01:57 PM   #10
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I agree with Novaman about giving serious thought before having dental work done overseas, especially in countries where state of the art dentistry is vastly different from the U.S. standard. I would rather economize on other things before my health care. Preventive care is a lot cheaper than major restorative work so I think it pays to see your dentist at least every 6 months. Also, if you need follow up treatment, or encounter a problem, you want it done in a timely manner.
Count me in too. I purposely had my crown done before going overseas because if it failed while on my trip, I would have had no clue about who is good, or who is bad. With a filled tooth showing an interior crack on the Xray, I was taking no chances.
Even with advance planning and research, entrusting your mouth to an unknown dentist is just plain...well...you know. The risk of complications and no recourse or followup from afar just doesn't make sense.
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Old 08-16-2009, 03:44 PM   #11
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Add me to the list of people who believe in the system we've got here in the US. I'm willing to shop around for good prices, but I think the licensing, quality control and training of dentists and hygenists here to be vastly superior to that of other countries.

And I'm still remembering the comment made by a Jamaican friend about how "great" the Cuban hospitals are, according to his friends. I guess by comparison to the one I saw in Kingston, they are pretty good, but if you are comparing them to American hospitals-gaah!

If I was settled in a place and needed care, then I would probably be okay with the local experience, but then again, that is why the vast majority of us will retire in the US and travel for fun, not medical care.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:20 PM   #12
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Preventive care is a lot cheaper than major restorative work so I think it pays to see your dentist at least every 6 months. Also, if you need follow up treatment, or encounter a problem, you want it done in a timely manner.
I'd love to see the evidence-based medicine study of the six-month checkup. It makes sense for kids whose bodies are developing and changing rapidly, but how far off the beaten trail can an adult get in that time?

With "my" dentist's reluctant concurrence, I visit once every two years or so. I have nine 1970s fillings but it's been pretty quiet since then. No gum issues, I brush daily, and I floss at least 3x/week. The cleanings are brief and there's very little to remove. $120-$175, which might vary with the type of x-rays they take.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:31 PM   #13
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NOrds, it depends on the person

Some people (a friend of mine) have gum and tooth problems that are hereditary, and she NEEDS the every-four-month cleaning. Pockets, decay, yech...

Other people can do once a year, or every 2 years and be ok.

Also, some medications can change the ecology of a person's mouth.

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Foreign dental care
Old 08-18-2009, 07:37 AM   #14
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Foreign dental care

If you are not supposed to drink the local water as recommened in Peru, Mexico, etc I would think twice about getting dental care there. The dentist uses lots of water with the handpiece he uses. The assistant also has water that she rinses with. You may have to take antibiotics for the other end after your appointment.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:27 AM   #15
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I wonder if part of the reduction in expenses abroad is due to using slightly less than state of the practice technology combined with technology being much cheaper. In the US I would assume most dental tech goods are proprietary and produced with a license of someone's patented technology. Some foreign countries don't have the best intellectual property framework or enforcement in place, so those $50 files in the US may cost $15 in Peru because you don't have to pay the $35 patent licensing fee, or they buy the kind that was used 5-10 years ago (which were perfectly ok then).
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:37 AM   #16
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Since we are the US there is no better. Unless maybe there is some objective measure. Maybe a world health type organization?
The World Health Organization's ranking of the world's health systems
37th place?

Against all evidence I am in the medical/dental care at home camp. Even though there are an amazing number of strongly accented doctors and heads of departments that we run into when taking the gal's 94 YO Mom around to her cardiologist, blood doctor, etc.

Shoot. We're not even #1 in health care expenditures as a percentage of GDP. #2 though.
http://www.photius.com/rankings/tota...0_to_2005.html
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:41 PM   #17
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I have to admit, I am a bit obsessive when it comes to my teeth. I don't have a Farrah Fawcett smile or anything, but I take very good care of them and was more than a little perturbed when I cracked a molar a couple of years ago and had to have an implant and a crown. The only place other than the U.S. where I might even consider having restorative dental work(if I had to while travelling) would be Canada or Switzerland.
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Old 08-19-2009, 11:48 AM   #18
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I wonder if part of the reduction in expenses abroad is due to using slightly less than state of the practice technology combined with technology being much cheaper. In the US I would assume most dental tech goods are proprietary and produced with a license of someone's patented technology. Some foreign countries don't have the best intellectual property framework or enforcement in place, so those $50 files in the US may cost $15 in Peru because you don't have to pay the $35 patent licensing fee, or they buy the kind that was used 5-10 years ago (which were perfectly ok then).
I am sure that is partially true and when I return tomorrow I will try to see the brand name on the files. All of the Multi-national Pharma companies with manufacturing here charge "way" less for meds (R&D is always recouped in stateside)and I imagine licensing fees are much less as well.

Several other factors are currency exchange currently 3 to 1 (as developing economies move closer to parity with the dollar) costs will go up. secondly a Dentist or MD typically makes about $36,000 as opposed to $300,000. German/Swiss medical diagnostic equiptment and drugs are preferred over what people percieve as "shoddy" US goods.

But all of this only holds true in the major cities of LAM. I would be quite suspect to let a "Shaman" in the sacred valley perform surgery on me!
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:07 PM   #19
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We lived in Venezuela more than 20 years and had the same dentist for the last 15. Lots of work from our family – crowns, implants, broken tooth repairs – in addition to the ongoing care. DW and I continued to see him for 5 years after moving to the US. After searching for a few years we found and have a family dentist here in the US.

IMO they both are similarly qualified, skilled and capable, and we are equally comfortable with either. Certainly, over the 25 or so years, nothing was done there that would have been done differently in the US. The only real differences between the two is in office equipment – our new family dentist has a larger office with more space and a greater variety of more recently manufactured machines – like x-rays. She also uses more disposable stuff during a visit.

I know that the Venezuelan dentist does not have any professional insurance.

Other than that, it’s hard to tell them apart. There are considerable differences in cost, but these mostly reflect market conditions. Dentist’s prices there are comparable to other professionals with similar skills, such as physicians. This is a reflection of the local purchasing power and standard of living. US prices would be unaffordable in countries like Venezuela (or Peru). The prices there will rise as the country develops and labor becomes more valuable.

This is why it is often so enticing to retire abroad is less developed countries.
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Old 08-20-2009, 07:20 PM   #20
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I am sure that is partially true and when I return tomorrow I will try to see the brand name on the files.
I just got back from the dentist (finished root canal)! All of the office equipment (Chair/x-ray) are Gnatus (a Brazilean Company) and state of the art! The files are Swiss made and can be used 4-5 times (sterlized each time) and cost $13.00 a set. He also has the American (think he said titanium) which are $45 and can only be used once in some kind of electrical device (instead of manual). It is more expensive but Peruvians rarely opt for it.

We talked (and laughed) about prices stateside and then he informed me he is leaving the hospital next year to work in Montreal!

Pleasant surroundings with a view to the Pacific and across the street from my tennis/beach club.
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