The dentist – a cautionary tale


Up to now, I’ve been satisfied, if not knocked over, with the dental care in Jaco. I first had  my teeth cleaned, for $40, which was done by the dentist. I didn’t think he was as thorough as the dental hygenist who cleaned my teeth in Sarasota. Then I had a root canal on a back molar. A female specialist came in from Puntarenas and did a good job for $300. Then my dentist did a filling for the crown where the root canal went through. Another $40.

Last week, I went back for another cleaning, six months after the last. I had made my appointment last September and I was on time. A woman and her husband came in after me, apparently American visitors. The husband left. When the dentist came out, he shook my hand and then asked the woman if she was there to have her teeth whitened. When she said yes, he then told me I would have to wait for an hour and a half. I left.

This type of poor customer service is pervasive in Costa Rica. Waiting for a waiter can be frustrated, as they mill around talking to other employees while you wait to get a menu or a drink. This dentist stood to make a lot more for doing the whitening than for doing my cleaning, so I was just out of luck. It’s almost like a primal look-out-for-yourself hunter/gatherer instinct. Short term vs. long term.

The next day I went to another dentist and made an appointment for the following day. The new dentist is female and she was doing a good job with the cleaning until her assistant took a phone call and then handed it to the dentist. She then got up, left the room and continued talking in the hallway. I was prone in the chair with the drainage tube dangling from my mouth. This lasted for about 10 minutes before the assistant finally came in to finish the work – quickly and without a flossing, which has always been a part of my tooth cleanings. The price here was $50. Trouble is I think there are only these two dentists in Jaco.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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