Early today we went dentist shopping. Surprisingly there are over 5 dentists in the small town of Concepcion. We are not odontological connoisseurs so our picking was reduced to who had the most neon on their signs or who had the best magazines in the waiting room.
Yano suggested that the fanciest of dentists may be the least prepared, compensating for mediocre grades in odontology school. On the other hand, the crummiest of places may indicate either a devoted dentist, a frugal efficient dentist, or just that– a crummy bad dentist with pliers for tools. In the end we took cousin Dubi’s suggestion of Rosalia Perez, DDS. Dubi has all his teeth, and I’ve seen him brush his teeth on occasion, so his advice weighed heavily.
Rosalia Perez has a small hole in the wall shop in Concepcion. The sign advertising her clinic is a white-washed wall with letters apparently painted by her 6 year old dyslexic son. The waiting room has 2 chairs and looks like the vestibule of an escort service.
Upon entering, an elegant lady asked us what we wanted. I just showed my tooth impaired smile, and asked the usual questions “where did you go to odontology school and in what percentile where you amongst your peers”. Sensing my hesitation she explained the procedure in detail and said… “it will be $20”. Sold! Who cares what grades you got! What’s the worst than can happen in a $20 procedure? Worse comes to worse, I could have it fixed again when I returned– provided I still had nerve endings. I agreed and she guided us to a small room with the familiar dentistry equipment– torture chair, plier looking tools, and spit faucet– so far so good. The lady sat me down, put on her gloves and went to work. It turned out, the person I thought was the secretary was actually the dentist. Talk about a one man show.
She took out her tools and started drilling– “I’m going to try without anesthesia first. Tell me if it hurts”. I gripped the chair in fear. “You can let go of the chair; it’s not going anywhere”. I tried to hide a nervous smile. I let her do her thing for about a minute or two– and then she hit a nerve. I shriveled and started to convulse slightly. She shook her head, looked at Yano, and said– “your husband is a coward; I hadn’t even started”. Shaaaa… Yes, I am a coward. “Bring out the anesthesia, lady! There are no points for manliness in a dentist chair.” Yano started to laugh uncontrollably and managed to spit out a “yes, I know”.
All in all, Dr. Perez was amiable, efficient, knowledgeable, and accommodating to cowards. She did a bang up job and was done in less than 30 minutes. While she was at it, I asked how much a bi-yearly cleaning would be: $15. Sold! In the end I ended up with a fixed tooth, cleanings for both me and Yano, and a fixed cavity: all for $65. That’s about what my deductible is back home.
- Cleaning: $15
- Chip tooth fix: $20
- Cavity fix: $15
- Calling your husband a coward while he’s strapped defensely to a dentist chair: priceless.
After 15 years of traveling every continent except Antartica, I have come to the conclusion that the inferiority of healthcare outside of the United States is a myth perpetuated by those wanting to charge $500 for a procedure that can clearly be done for $35 plus the price of a Snickers. Of course, I am not going to complain when Yano makes $200,000 a year as a nurse anesthesist; not any more than Warren Buffet complained that his tax rate last year was 17% while his secretary’s was 28%. Obviously, I am going to milk the system for all it’s worth, but I’m just pointing out the financial skewdness of the entire system.
Still, happily whole. I can smile without Yanory jabbing me in the ribs, and as a bonus, I got a cavity fixed for $15.
p.s. Price of a root canal here: $200.