Do you love your pearly whites? Are you concerned about dental care outside the United States while you are WorldTowning? As we enter our fourth year of travel, I am happy to report that, after numerous six-month cleanings, fillings, extractions, oral surgery and braces, we have come to the conclusion that your teeth will survive while you travel, but don’t stay in France too long. Sorry, France, your cheese rocks, but your dental cleanings could use an update.
Dental Care Outside the
Let’s start by breaking down our dental experiences by our previous WorldTowning hometowns.
In Costa Rica, we had two cleanings each by a dentist recommended by a friend. We were happy with the results. I also had oral surgery on a root under a crown. They had to cut into my gum and give me a mild sedative. It was not an easy procedure. During my visit the surgeon told me that most of his clients are coming from the U.S. to take a vacation and get their big dental work done. He said the cost ends up being approximately 70 percent less than standard U.S. dental prices.
In Ecuador, we had numerous cleanings, and they were top-notch. Our dentist came recommended by the family from which we rented our home, and she was thorough. Largo also needed to have several extractions before he could get his braces, and the dentist made it virtually painless. Additionally, when we had Largo’s braces put on, we told the dentist we would not be around for the duration of the widening, and he was completely fine with this arrangement.
When we arrive in France, we immediately found an orthodontist through a friend, and he agreed to service Largo’s teeth for the next 10 months. We had yet again another amazing experience, and the braces were removed, as promised, just weeks before we left Hyères.
We had only negative dental encounter, and I would say it was not too negative, but it is something of which to be aware. The cleanings we received in France were really bad. We even thought maybe it was our dentist, but everyone we spoke to said he was the best in town, and the treatment we received was typical. Will and I had our teeth cleaned with the water pick tool, no shining, no flossing and no fluoride. We were in and out in 15 minutes or less. Avalon got about a seven-minute treatment, and Largo’s was about three minutes. I was told that, in that region, it is not typical for children to have their teeth thoroughly cleaned. This seems crazy to me since Largo has a lot of permanent teeth. To add to that, the dentist charged the same amount for Largo’s cleaning as for the rest of us. I share this to illustrate the point that not all regions view the importance of dental care the same. It is important to understand the customs of the area to which you are WorldTowning, so that you can make adjustments if and when needed.
So, how much did dental care cost in these locations? On average, we paid between $30-40 USD per cleaning. The extractions were $40 USD for three teeth. The oral surgery was $500. The braces were around $800 for upper only for one year. We were surprised, as we have friends who are paying $7,000+ for upper and lower braces in the U.S..
Considerations for WorldTowners
If you have any medical conditions that require you to take antibiotics before dental visits make sure you are aware of the practices in the countries you plan to visit. I have mitral valve prolapse (MVP), and, in the U.S., it was determined that taking high doses of antibiotics before dental procedures is no longer necessary. However, when I am in a location that I feel does not have the same cleanliness standards as the U.S., I take antibiotics, as infection-causing bacteria on cleaning tools can be very dangerous for me.
Here are some other considerations based on what we have learned about dental care along the way?
- Dental insurance is not necessary in the countries we visited.
- If you need any major dental work done, you may want to consider a vacation to Costa Rica.
- Cleanings and extractions are about two-thirds less expensive than U.S. prices.
- Good teeth cleanings does not seem to be a high priority in France.
- Flossing has not been as important to the dentists we have seen as it is to U.S. dentists.
- Often the dentist is also the one who does the cleanings.
- Braces are affordable in most countries, except in the U.S.
- Braces could be difficult if your WorldTowning journey takes you to destinations at short intervals of time (three to six months).
Overall our experience with dental care outside the U.S. has been very good. We have actually found the whole experience quite easy. We don’t have to book appointments months in advance, endure long waits for our appointment or undergo procedures that may or may not be necessary because of a little dark spot on an x-ray. The approach outside the U.S. has been very cut and dry, and I never feel like the dentist was interested in increasing costs. Each procedure we have had done has been successful and required no follow-up visit for any reason, including pain. #WTDentalCare
We are going to spend all month debunking dental/medical care fears while living outside the United States, so we can get you WorldTowning.