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Dental Work in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country with no army. Instead, it spends funds on education and medical facilities.[1]USA Today Why getting rid of Costa Rica’s army 70 years ago has been such a success “The country’s secret is something that virtually no other country in the world can claim — no standing army. It has used the savings from defense spending to improve education, health care and a durable social safety net.” View in Article Safety and low prices make dental work in Costa Rica, one lucrative option for dentistry abroad.

Video Courtesy: National Geographic

Costa Rica is a global leader in the Medical Tourism industry. The major share of medical tourists come for dental tourism in Costa Rica. This accounts for about 42% of the total medical tourists visiting CR.[2]PROMED Why Costa Rica “Costa Rica has become a global leader in Medical Tourism the big three are Quality, Convenience and especially Savings. Costa Rica is within a 3-5 hour flight from most places in the United States. The specialties most requested in Costa Rica by medical tourists are dental services (42%)” View in Article

Graph: Medical Tourists in Costa Rica

Source: PROMED

About 95% (83% US; 11% Canada) of these tourists are North Americans. There are various reasons for Americans to opt. for dentistry in CR. Affordability compared to home country and flexible appointments being top two.[3]Havard Business School Medical Tourism Cluster “more than 95% of its customer base is from North America (US 83% and Canada 11%). The driving force behind tourists’ demand for medical services abroad is, as one might suspect, the significant cost differences. Moreover, the waiting times are much less which is attractive to patients from Canada and Germany.” View in Article

UNESCO: The literacy rate in Costa Rica at 98%[4]UNESCO Costa Rica > Literacy Rate “15-24 years: 99.43 (2018) 15 years and older: 97.86” View in Article

Top Dental Clinics

Goodness Dental, Escazú, San Jose

I want to give many thanks to Goodness Dental for the care they took with this very scared gal!...

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3rd Floor – Habitat Empresarial Escazú, San Jose

New Smile Dental Group

I only get my teeth cleaned but they do a good job at it...

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Av. 2, San José, Costa Rica

ConfiDental, San Jose

The clinic is nice and quiet. The attention with the doctors is pleasant and personalized. Than...

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Sabana Norte, Avenida Las Américas, Building: Torres del Parque, Second Floor, Office #201

Americas Dental Care, San Jose

Beyond my hopes and expectations. Anita and Dr. Donato are not only skilled professionals but i...

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Why choose Costa Rica?

  • Lower Cost

Clinics spend considerably less on salaries, insurance, and dental supplies. These savings allow them to offer rates that are much less than in the U.S.A.[5]Nation Master Average monthly disposable salary “Costa Rica: $779.04, Ranked 68th; U.S.A.: $3,258.85, Ranked 12th – 4 times more than Costa Rica” View in Article

  • Quality Dentistry

Dentists in Costa Rica are highly educated. Nearly 80% of the physicians have received their education in the U.S. or Europe.[6]PROMED What Is Medical Tourism? “Many of the physicians, dentists and surgeons in Costa Rica were educated or have received training in American or western European medical institutions.” View in Article

  • Popular Tourist destination

While every city continues to experience the growing effects of climate change, Costa Rica can get you a vacation in the lap of nature at its best![7]Tripping 1. Costa Rica “The country undoubtedly most associated with ecotourism, Costa Rica has made a name for itself as a travel destination because of its well-protected natural beauty.” View in Article

  • Short & Cheap Flights

Flights from the U.S.A. and Western Europe are relatively cheap, especially from the East coast areas like Miami, Dallas, and E.U. nations like Portugal.

Cost of Dentistry in Costa Rica

If you’re wondering how much should you expect to pay for dental work in Costa Rica, study the cost table below:

Dental Work Avg. Cost Comparison (USD)
Dental Work USA Canada San Jose
Implantology
Single Tooth Titanium Implant $5,000 $4,600 $950
All-on-4 Implants (Zimmer) $24,000 $22,000 $10,700
All-on-5 Implants (Zimmer) $22,000 $20,000 $14,400
All-on-6 Implants (Zimmer) $28,000 $26,000 $16,000
All-on-8 Implants (Zimmer) $35,000 $32,000 $19,000
Implant Denture $6,000 $5,500 $3,000
Crowns
Porcelain fused to Metal Crowns (PFM) $1,100 $1,020 $525
Zirconia Crowns $2,000 $1,840 $400
Preventive Dentistry
Tooth Extraction (Simple) $300 $270 $80
Tooth Extraction (Surgical) $650 $500 $180
Restorative Dentistry
Root Canal Treatment (molars) $1,500 $1,300 $400
Composite Filling $250 $230 $120
Cosmetic Procedures
Porcelain Veneers $2,500 $2,300 $425
Laser Teeth Whitening $1,500 $1,380 $400
Dental Implant prices in San Jose are for brand Zimmer, backed with a lifetime guarantee* Zimmer Implant Brand in Costa Rica
*Prices may vary with the time duration & complexity of the case.

While the price of a dental implant is around $4,000 in the U.S., it costs $750 in Costa Rica. You can save approximately 65% – 75% of your spending on dentures, from All on 4, 6, or 8 to Snap-on dentures. Moreover, some dentists accept dental insurance, which allows you to save even more!

Dental Work in Costa Rica Safe?

We suggest you should do thorough research about the clinic and the treating dentist.

  • Find out the qualifications of the dentist. The dentist could be Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and may have done specialization in any field or a Fellowship program.
  • They should be accredited with Colegio de Dentistas Cirujanos  (similar to ADA membership in the US) and licensed by the Ministry of Health.
  • A bilingual dentist is recommended. If that is not possible, always ask for an interpreter.
  • Check if the clinic has an in-house dental lab. In-house labs quicken the prosthesis turnover and maintain higher quality standards. The dentist can give inputs immediately.
  • Sterilization is of extreme importance. The dental clinic must meet the set international standards.
  • A long experience of dealing with foreign patients and dental work is recommended.

The World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica as having the third-highest healthcare system in Latin America. It ranks 36th in the world, one spot above the U.S.A.[8]WHO World health report “Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica and Cuba are rated highest among the Latin American nations – 22nd, 33rd, 36th and 39th in the world, respectively.” View in Article,[9]WHO Overall efficiency in all WHO member states “36 Costa Rica; 37 United States of America” View in Article

Dental Training Comparison

Dental Training in Costa Rica Vs. the USA
Dental Training USA Dental Training Costa Rica
Undergraduate degree + 4 years to get DDS 6 years to get DDS degree
Quicker access to the latest technology Limited access to the latest technology
Less patient exposure Vast patient exposure

Best Dentists in Costa Rica

Dr. Andres | Dentist Costa Rica

Dr. Andrés Brenes, D.D.S.

  • Experience: 6+ years
  • Dentist @ Goodness Dental
  • License: Costa Rica
  • Memberships include The American Prosthodontic Society

Dr. Peter Aborn | Dentist Costa Rica

Dr. Peter Aborn, D.D.S

  • Experience: 40+ years
  • Patient care @ Goodness Dental
  • License: New York, Massachusetts, Costa Rica
  • Certifications include IADR, A.D.A., A.P.S.

Dr. Mario Bonilla | Dentist Costa Rica

Dr. Mario Bonilla, D.D.S.

  • Experience: 12+ years
  • Clinic: New Smile Dental
  • License: Costa Rica
  • Certifications include A.D.A., AAID, ICOI

Dr. Silvia | Dentist Costa Rica

Dr. Silvia Odio, D.D.S

  • Experience: 18+ years
  • Clinic: New Smile Dental
  • License: Costa Rica
  • Memberships include American Dental Association

Medical malpractice in Costa Rica comes under criminal law. (unlike civil law in countries)[10]Costa Rica Law Litigation in Costa Rica “In Costa Rica, many will be surprised to learn that medical malpractice claims area mixture of civil law and criminal law.Most cases are pursued as criminal proceedings.” View in Article

Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

Costa Rica intends to become the first carbon-neutral nation by nurturing its forests. The Costa Rican government is developing plans to begin offsetting all of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Tortuguero

Can be reached by boat. As there is a lack of modern infrastructure, the region feels wonderfully peaceful. As you float down the river, you can spot manatees, caimans, and crocodiles, as well as sloths and a variety of monkeys.

Tortuguero, Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

Tortuguero is also one of the best places in the world to view sea turtles. The nearby beaches are key nesting sites.

Tortuguero, Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

  • Arenal Volcano

Costa Rica is home to several volcanoes, including a handful of active ones. The most popular among tourists is the Arenal Volcano.

Arneal Volcano, Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

There is a good chance of seeing toucans, parrots, and tanagers.  Costa Rica is one of the best places to see hummingbirds. To date, there have been 57 species recorded in the country.

Arneal Volcano, Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

  • Cabo Blanco

Nestled in the extreme southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, one of the most scenically beautiful areas of Costa Rica. It was the country’s first area that was protected for nature conservation.

Cabo-Blanco, Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

1,788 hectares of ocean belong to the Cabo Blanco nature reserve, protecting many species of fish, large quantities of lobster, giant conches and oyster. There are plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Scuba Diving, Dental Tourism in Costa Rica
Tourist places in costa rica
  • Costa Rica is rapidly becoming a world-class golf destination. It has several championship courses in the capital city of San Jose and along the tropical Pacific Coast.
Golf | Dental Tourism in Costa Rica
  • Caribbean coast is culturally more diverse with white sand beaches. In the thick forests of the Caribbean Sea coast and Northern Plains, expect high humidity and temperatures[b/w 70s and high 80s] year-round.
Carribean Coast | Dental Tourism in Costa Rica
  • Pacific coast is sparsely populated but has splendid beaches, excellent fishing, great water sports. To the north, you will see a rugged and beautiful shoreline. In the south, the lush rainforests meet the ocean.
Pacific Coast | Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

1. Currency in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s currency is the colon (₡). The exchange rate fluctuates daily but usually works out to between ₡500-550 per US dollar.

Here is what to do before you travel:

  • Make sure that you have a 4 digit pin number, otherwise, you won’t be able to take money out.
  • Check with your card issuer about the charge for using your credit or debit card while abroad. Expect to pay a flat fee of between $1 and $3 per transaction.
  • Notify your bank and credit card issuer of your travel plans, so your vacation spending isn’t flagged as suspicious activity.
  • Virtually all ATMs “close” at around 10 p.m. When possible, only use ATMs that are marked with ATH. This means a todas horas or “all hours.”

In addition to colones, US dollars are widely accepted throughout the country. However, bills larger than $20 may not be taken by some businesses. Also, when paying for goods and services in dollars, you’ll more than likely get your change in colones.

2. Hotels in Costa Rica

Look for the distinctive ‘five leaves’ rating system. It’s a sign that the organization is part of the Government-run CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism). This is a program that encourages minimizing the impact on the environment.

CST

The number of leaves depends upon:

  • How well the hotel treats nature in surrounding areas.
  • How the hotel impacts local society.
  • How the hotel helps the local economy.

In a nutshell, the more effort the hotel puts into sustainability, the more leaves it gets.

3. Emergency Contact:

Main emergency number 911
Police (Fuerza Pública) 117
Fire Fighters (Bomberos) 118
US Embassy +506 2519 2000
Canadian Embassy +506 2242-4400
Sea Turtle | Dental Tourism in Cost Rica

Sea Turtle
Toucan | Dental Tourism in Cost Rica

Toucan
Manta Ray | Dental Tourism in Cost Rica

Manta Ray

Costa Rica is not just a well known dental tourism location, but also one of the best locations for Eco-Tourism!

How to Reach Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a short flight from major US cities such as Miami, Houston, Orlando, New Orleans, Dallas. Visitors traveling by plane usually arrive at San Jose International Airport (IATA: SJO) 3 km (14 mi) west of downtown, in the city of Alajuela.

flight to costa rica

Table: Flight Details

Origin Destination IATA Code Time Duration
San Jose, California SJC 8hr 30 min (1-stop)
Dallas, Texas DFW 4hr 10 min (Direct)
Miami, Florida MIA 2hr 50min (Direct)
New York City, U.S.A. JFK 5hr 30min (Direct)

Visa Requirements

U.S.A., Canada, European Union: Do not require a Visa. However, they should comply with the following requirements:

  • They must have a valid passport.
  • They must arrive in Costa Rica with a return ticket proving they will leave the country within the tourist visa period (usually 90 days).
  • The length of the tourist visa granted is at the discretion of the immigration official at the point of entry to Costa Rica.

FAQs Dental Work in Costa Rica

With numerous microclimatic regions stashed in one country, you can always find a spot that suits your temperature and temperament. Costa Rica has two seasons- dry season (November – April) and wet season (May – November) and temperatures averaging in the 70 degrees.

Although the dry season is very popular, the wet season has the following advantages:

  • Nature is lush green.
  • There is no mad holiday rush.
  • Rentals are not overpriced or heavily booked.

You will be safe as long as you use common tourist safety precautions and take advice from authorities, hotels, and tour operators. It is important to follow the news on television and radio closely.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city. Due to crime, exercise increased caution in:

  • Central neighborhood in Limon city.
  • Liberia city.
  • Desamparados neighborhood in San Rafael.
  • Pavas and Hospital neighborhoods San Jose.
  • Avoid Hatillo, a district of San José, especially at night. This is a low-income neighborhood that has one of the worst reputations in Costa Rica. It is home to many low- and mid-level drug dealers.

Uber is safe in Costa Rica. It’s especially great to use from SJO Airport to your accommodation.

The color of licensed taxis is red. That’s the legal type and anything else that calls itself a taxi most likely is not.

Street food stands are cheap and amazing. Things are cooked before your very eyes so you won’t have to worry about things sitting in the sun all day. If you’re still worried, don’t be afraid to ask for fresh food (Comida fresca).

Eating at a soda (not to be confused with the beverage, it is a local eatery) is usually a good idea. Street food is good and CHEAPER than restaurants.

For a 2-3 star property, in San Jose, expect to pay around $70- $100. A typical tourist can expect to spend $55 – $60 a day while in Costa Rica. The activities you decide on will effect your daily budget tremendously. For a 2-3 star property, in San Jose, expect to pay around $70- $100.

  • You can pay for an international plan from your cell phone company. Before traveling, you can ask your cell phone provider how much it will cost for you to get a temporary international plan. Most cell phone companies will provide some type of service like this, but it usually isn’t very cheap.
  • You can buy a prepaid SIM card from Kolbi. You just need a passport to get a sim card. They have a stand at the baggage claim area of the San Jose airport where you can buy a prepaid SIM card for about $4.
  • If you need to call your family or friends back home, it is best to wait until you have wifi and use the free app Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, or Skype.
  • Costa Rica has a relatively modern telecommunication infrastructure. All Internet traffic goes through state-owned Grupo ICE and its subsidiary RACSA.
  • Free wireless internet access in popular spots throughout the country, including international airports and shopping malls.
  • Most hotels also provide free wireless access, as well as popular restaurants, such as McDonald’s, Subway, Bagelman’s, Denny’s, etc.
  • Waze: it will notify you of upcoming traffic, road closures, etc.
  • XE Currency Converter:  resource for currency exchange rates from around the globe.
  • Costa Rica Weather: weather forecasts accurate, and adjust your program according to the weather.
  • BirdSounds Costa Rica: collection of songs and calls of birds of Costa Rica. It is the perfect complement to your paper field guide to the birds of Costa Rica.
  • Animals of Costa Rica: field guide of animals of Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rica Travel Guide: contains complete and up to date city guides for travel destinations in Costa Rica. It works offline, you don’t need an internet connection.
  • Magicseaweed: lets you check out the current surf conditions at the beach.
  • GoogleTranslate:  free service instantly translates words, phrases, and web pages between English and over 100 other languages.
  • Google maps: have this feature in which you can download your route ahead of time. It will navigate you via satellite for free and without internet.
  • WhatsApp: you can send text messages, voice recordings, or call someone through your internet.

Pura Vida means pure life. Costa Ricans take every opportunity to enjoy life, and this carefree term expresses general satisfaction. Pura vida is used as greeting or farewell, to express thanks, and as a response to “how are you?”

  • How are you? – Como estas?
  • Good Morning – Buenos dias
  • I don’t understand – No entiendo
  • How Much – Cuánto cuesta?
  • Stop here – Te detienes aquí
  • Where are you going? – A donde vas?
  • What Is This? – Que es esto?
  • Sorry – Lo siento
  • Help – Ayudame
  • Cheers – Salud

The ‘rich coast’ has earned its name and stands apart from its Central American neighbors. One of the world’s most biodiverse countries in the world, it is an excellent dental tourism destination. For more info on dental work in Costa Rica, contact us!

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