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Trip Report Dental Work in Guatemala

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Just wanted to warn about local dentists in Guatemala. If you think that you will be saving money, doing dental work in a developing country - think twice!

We recently went to Guatemala, and in Antigua's local guide found an ad for an English speaking and U.S. educated dentist Dr. Jorge De La Cruz. Went there for an examination, he said that he found a problem here and a decay there, said that it's necessary to do a root canal and a crown. Prices were acceptable by the U.S. standards, however when we started hesitating, the Dr. immediately changed his "diagnosis" (seeing probably that he could lose a patient and the money...) and started offering just a crown, without root canal, since he said "You can do it too, just later might have to go around the crown, if the root is damaged"... So much for trying to get patient's money...

Anyway, again the prices were really good, we decided to do both (root canal+crown). While the Dr. was working, he was trying to talk me into drilling other, still normal looking teeth, claiming some possible decay. Ok, we "survived" that, refused. Then the trouble started - turned out that he worked in Antigua just 1 day a week (sometimes two), and his main office was in Guatemala City (add money on a shuttle bus and about an hour of time spent travelling one way). So, had to go there several times, to take impressions and the to put the crown on. The crown however did not fit well, and so he had to send it to the local lab to adjust, which took more time... We were so fed up with that travelling from one town to another and dealing with the Dr. De La Cruz, unbelievable. And the find out what? That he takes 5-6 times more than local dentists of the same quality of work, just because he puts his U.S. diploma on the wall of his office and advertizes himself widely. Any other dentist and in Antigua and in Guatemala City costs much less, especially if you can explain yourself in Spanish! The quality of work is pretty much the same, and also we were not really impressed with the quality of work by Dr. De La Cruz, very average. When we came back home, I had an uncomfortable feeling around the new crown, so had to see our home dentist who said that it was not really a good fit in the mouth, so trying to adjust it.

So, if you are thinking of doing any dental work while on vacation in a developing country, it might seem very attractive, however sometimes local doctors like this De La Cruz will try to sell you anything possible (just as indigenous people on the streets try to sell necklaces or scarves). Try to do your research first and don't be fooled!

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