Dental work may not be the first thing you think of when you think “vacation,” but in Costa Rica it’s actually a fine pairing. The cost of dentistry is 1/3 to 1/2 the price you find in the States, and many dental insurance policies cover work done outside the States. (Check with your provider.)
Before leaving home for your dental vacation, you can make an appointment for early in your stay, to handle the first stage of getting crowns or implants, then return a few days or a week later for any necessary follow-up. Between appointments, you can visit Costa Rica’s very fine reserves and national parks for superlative wildlife viewing!
Here is a sketch of what has worked very well for us:
We chose the dentists at Dental Cosmetics Costa Rica, next door to the country’s finest hospital, CIMA. Dr Alejandro Mora was our first contact; he specializes in crowns. We set up our appointments with an email to him. Their contact information is [email protected]; their telephone in the US is (305) 428-3820.
The second-floor office of Dental Cosmetics in Escazú
Other dentists within the group specialize in extractions, root canals, and implants, as well as general dentistry. Three of us have returned to them several times, and the quality of their work has been quite good. Their English is also excellent. A pharmacy is a short walk away, on the ground floor of CIMA hospital.
Both the dentist and the pharmacy accept credit cards; take a card that doesn’t add foreign transaction fees. If the work is substantial and expense is a concern, using a wire transfer instead of a credit card may bring you a 5% discount: ask Dr Mora about their payment policies. You may also pay with US cash, but not with a cashier’s check.
Ask Dr Mora how the scheduling will go, so that you know when you may be free for pursuing the vacation part of your “vacation”.
As at home, if you receive implants, you’ll need to make a follow-up visit 3 to 6 months later for the final stage of the work.
Our hotel of choice for dental work is Marriott’s Residence Inn, about a 3-minute walk from the dentists’ office. (If you get a Marriott credit card with a sign-up bonus, you can cover several days of your stay using those points.) The Residence Inn offers excellent free breakfasts, including made-to-order omelettes, and you can even make a sandwich from the breakfast offerings to have for lunch. Our suite had a full-sized refrigerator, stove top, and microwave, and was very well supplied for making meals in the room.
The hotel staff is remarkably helpful: they will even go grocery shopping for you at no extra charge, and put the cost of the groceries on your room bill. A Starbucks is directly across the quiet street that fronts the hotel, en route to the dentist.
Marriott’s Residence Inn Escazú is very close to Dental Cosmetics and CIMA hospital.
It’s even possible to bird a bit right here. A short walk along the street, past the Lego store and the IMAX, takes you to a beautifully forested ravine, where you can scan the flowering trees for hummingbirds like the Green-fronted Mango and Steely-vented Hummingbird, and other tropical species like Blue-crowned Motmot and Grayish Saltator.
This Blue-crowned Motmot was foraging in a tangle of trees only a block or two from the Residence Inn
Many trees flower during Costa Rica’s dry season, attracting parakeets and other birds.
This flowering tree was especially popular with hummingbirds.
The area around the hotel and hospital also features up-scale shopping and restaurants. This suburb of San José is Escazú, and it’s fairly close to the airport, about a $30 taxi ride for three people. (Any taxi driver in San José knows where CIMA is!) Although the Residence Inn does not offer a shuttle to the airport, they do offer a free shuttle to–but not from–the Multiplex, an enormous shopping mall about a half-mile away. This mall has a good grocery store, and the walk back from the mall is fairly easy.
Day trips to Poás Volcano are simple to arrange on the spur of the moment at the hotel, or you can plan longer trips ahead of time to parks like Tortuguero, Monteverde, or Cararas (once you know how the timing of your dental visits will work). If birding and wildlife are your passion, make arrangements before you leave home with one of the companies that will tailor a tour to your interests. Costa Rica Expeditions is an excellent choice. The knowledge of a local guide can be invaluable!
So, have you been putting off that implant? If you have to go to the dentist anyway, a dental vacation in Costa Rica is a great option!