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Feb.5, 2014 Dentist Visit

Posted 2/5/2014

Today Jim (brother in law) started complaining about a toothache on a tooth he had some work done on several weeks back before we left for Panama. So we headed to town to find a dentist. Before we did go, I thought it wise to ask our host at the B&B for a recommendation.

“Monica” she said, while rummaging through stacks of business cards looking for the Dentista’s card.

She finally gave up and tried to explain where it was.

“Arriba” and “Romero’s” were the only two words I was understanding so after about five minutes I figured my Spanish lesson was done for the day and we set out for exploration. We drove into town and after driving way too far came back down and saw a tiny building with three tiny storefronts with a tiny sign tucked behind a tiny driveway with a huge SUV parked in it. The sign said “Dentista Dr. Monica something”. So I let Jim out and went looking for a parking spot.

After I parked the car and walked over to the Dentist and there was Jim standing out front. Just as I got there a young woman opened the door for us and we entered a, dare I use this word yet again, tiny waiting room. She understood English so Jim told her about the tooth and she told us about the Doctor.

“Out for three weeks on vacation” she declares. “Can I make you an appointment?”

“Well, No I want the tooth fixed it hurts” Jim responds.

I jump in with my own question. “Is there another Dentist in town?”

Fortune smile on us and we walk to the other clinic. On the next corner there is a big nice looking house on a hill overlooking the main road. There was no sign announcing what was going on inside but there was a really small sign on the corner across the side street. There was a Church on that corner but we assumed that the dentist was not operating out of the Church so we tried the house. We were correct and in we walk. What we saw was a big comfortable waiting room/office area, nicely decorated in a fisherman’s sense of style. In the far end of the room we saw the dentist sitting at the head of a ten year old lying prone in the dentist chair having her teeth cleaned. Mom was sitting anxiously nearby and greeted us with a nod. The dentist was not distracted by our entering and remained fixed on his task.

Okay, timeout. Jim is probably going to have his tooth pulled in a room that will potentially be filled with visitors, delivery people and curious children wondering what all the yelling is about. I’m thinking of charging admission to the spectacle once I justify the ethical part in my mind.

So Jim gets into the chair, the doctor explains the problem as he sees it and takes an X-Ray. He sets up an appointment for the next day and gives us today’s damages for the consultation and X-Ray which turned out to be a whopping $15. We also found out that to have a root canal is $125 and a gold crown is $450 or cut to the chase and have it pulled for $40 including the office visit.

Back in New Jersey I had dental insurance that covered most of my dental expenses and the out of pocket cost for a crown was over $800.