Thursday, August 14, 2014

DENTAL CARE IN ECUADOR - Our Cuenca Dentist experience!

Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth. 

~Mallory Hopkins

Yes, we've been to the dentist here in Cuenca!  Good experience or bad experience?  Great experience!  So, how does one know who to go to for medical or dental care - and if they're reputable, and if they're going to do an excellent job and if they are honest and all about their patient's care?  Bo and I ask our Ecuadorian friends for recommendations.  One Ecuadorian family who are well-connected here in Cuenca and who are like our family here are a fabulous source of information for us.  We found our family doctor and dentist because of their recommendations.  We trust this family and who they know.  That makes it very easy for us because we know they will only refer us to the best.

It was time for our cleanings.  We always went every 6 months back in the states when we had dental insurance through Bo's employment.  Without insurance, a cleaning and mandatory x-rays would cost each of us close to $200 a visit.  A friend back in Portland, Oregon told me that she recently paid $300 for her cleaning and x-rays - and she is NOT insured.  CRAZY!  So, when we made our appointments with Dr. Emerson in El Centro, we were happy to learn that our cleanings would cost us $30 each.  Who does the cleaning?  The dentist, of course.  Bo went first.   I watched.  Nothing fancy about Dr. Emerson's office.  It actually had a lot of that old-fashioned outdated dental equipment.  We had to spit into the bowl, and there weren't fancy TV's or sound systems going on in the office.  It was quiet, and Dr. Emerson talked to us and patiently worked on Bo's teeth while I asked him lots of questions about his practice and his education.  He was open and happy to share with us.  

Dr. Emerson does it all - from making the appointments to cleaning his patient's teeth.

Then came the news.  Bo needed a filling.  He could do it right there at this same appointment, and it would cost $20.  En Serio!  My question, "Do you give novocaine?"  He said no, it wasn't necessary.  But, if Bo wanted the novocaine, he would be happy to give it to him.  Only an extra $5.  Dr. Emerson reiterated it would not hurt, he would drill slowly, and if Bo decided he wanted the novocaine during the drilling, he would stop and inject him.  He said it wasn't necessary in several different ways.  Was Bo convinced?

Was that sweat I saw forming on Bo's brow??  Novacaine or no novacaine - that was the question?  What was his answer?

So Bo decided to trust Dr. Emerson and go for it - no local anesthetic.  Drill away........Yikes!

I stood close by and watched Dr. Emerson gently and slowly drill out the decay while Bo finally relaxed and trusted that it would not hurt.  And, apparently it didn't.  Bo said only at one point he felt a slight twinge of pain, but all in all, it was painless and went surprisingly well.  Dr. Emerson filled the cleaned out area, and in less than 15 minutes, Bo was out of the chair with a sparkling smile and a new composite porcelain filling.  

So, we saved $5 because of the "no novocaine" decision - and we left Dr. Emerson's office after paying $80 for two cleanings and one filling.  What's not to love about dental care in Cuenca??

There are many dentists who are well-trained and brilliant in Ecuador - and they have all the up-dated technology and resources, as well as speaking English.  Dr. Emerson's office was not fancy, and it had more of an older equipped appearance, but he knew what he was doing and he did it carefully and with expertise.  Bo and I don't need fancy.  What we do need it excellent care and from someone we trust.  We trusted Dr. Emerson 100%.  

Here are some prices I researched for dental services and procedures in Ecuador:
Cleaning - $30-45
Fillings - $20-35
Partial plates - $325
Complete set of dentures - $900 
For the plates and dentures, it includes all office visits, fittings, lab work and impressions.
Root canals - $125
Teeth bleaching - $25
Porcelain crowns - $250

USA Dentists are denying services to patients who do not want routine x-rays taken - which are now required by the American Dental Association.  In Ecuador, dentists allow patients their right to determine their own care and treatment, so they don't take set after set of x-rays on their patients.

Many come from the USA just to have their dental-doctor vacation because it costs 80-90% less to have dental work in Ecuador.  I spoke to a vacationing ex-pat who had extensive dental work done while she and her husband were here for a 6 week vacation - and she said not one time was novocaine used, and she sailed through several appointments painlessly.  The work she had done here would have cost her thousands of dollars back home, and she was able to have her Cuenca Ecuador vacation between her appointments.  

So, go ahead and make your dentist appointment - and when you are told "no novocaine" - don't be scared!!!


  1. Hi Linda, That was great info, thank Bo for sharing his procedure with us. Sad to say we haven't been for our cleanings since we retired w/no dental insurance now because of the costs. Even medical has gotten very expensive and since we live in a small town with only a small clinic we must travel close to 2 hours for any good care (and that is depending on the weather as we are at 7000 ft) Our goal is to visit Ecuador first, Vilcabamba, Cuenca and maybe a few other places which we don't know yet. We have a garden and greenhouse here so we grow a lot of our food but since we are now in our early 70's it is becoming harder especially when factoring in wind and weather. But God is our guide so I know we will go where we are led. God continue to bless you and Bo in your adventures.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Paulette.
      Yes, the cost of medical and dental care in the USA is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive! We are fortunate to be able to get inexpensive and QUALITY care here since moving to Cuenca. It is one of our many blessings and we are thankful for this benefit. Stay in touch and keep us posted on your future visit to this beautiful country. We look forward to meeting you. Until then enjoy our continued adventures as we share the on this BLOG.

  2. Hi LInda and Bo, I've been having trouble publishing comments to your posts again. I know that it does not work from an ipad so now I'm on my lap top. It did not work when I tried to publish with my google account so I will try as anonymous now. We appreciated your two posts about your medical and dental encounters. We are fortunate to have medical insurance through my retirement but it will still be cheaper in Ecuador to pay cash for services received than to pay our copay in the states. We are less than 2 months until our move to Ecuador. I will email you privately to share other news. We love you. Glenn and Mara

    1. How exciting, Glenn and Mara,
      SOON you'll be here!! Time flies, doesn't it? Bo and I both look forward to having you back - permanently! We will have a celebration dinner when you settle in. I'm not sure why you cannot post with your google account. Thanks for commenting using Anonymous - and for letting us know your time schedule. You may consider signing up for the IESS while it is available, once you arrive. I'm glad you have insurance through your retirement. So many of us came here uninsured. It definitely is so much less expensive here for our medical care - a blessing! Can't wait to read your PM with your news and update.
      See you both SOON! I've marked my calendar!!
      Linda (and Bo)

  3. Hello Linda and Bo,
    Just discovered your blog last week. I started at the beginning and have read it all. Not only great information - but I feel like I know you. If all goes well, I will be moving to Cuenca in December or January - and like you, I want to connect with the Ecuadorian people. Have made 2 visits and really love it.
    Thanks again for sharing. Oh, I really loved the color you painted the apartment - bright and cheerful.
    God Bless you and Bo!

    1. Hola Juanita,
      Welcome to our Blog - and thank you for your kind and encouraging comment. Wow, you read it all! Thank I guess you do know us - since I tell it all (well, almost all!!!)...... I hope you've found what I share helpful in helping you prepare for your move here, which is not too far away! If your desire is to connect with the lovely Ecuadorians, then you will! We thank our Lord for the wonderful friendships we've made in the past 20 months here. They are family to us and have shown us so much love. As for the colors in our apartment- I'm NOT afraid of color, and everyone who visits us enjoys the warm colors too. Stay in touch, and when you land in beautiful Cuenca, do contact us and we can plan to meet for un cafecito - Si???
      Con Amor,

  4. It sickens me to learn how much dentistry costs in America, even just for cleanings and x-rays! However, it's so wonderful that you got to take advantage of the services down there and had a really great dental experience. It's hard to experience that no matter where you go! Keep going back; a good dentist is worth the travel!

  5. Dr. Emerson is an amazing dentist. I’m so tired of having to pay an amount that could go towards my rent to the dentist because of insurance! I would much rather pay cash to a smart man like this and pay only for what I need as opposed to all the extras like what American dental insurance requires!

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