Dental Care in Panama for Expats
Whether you’re planning your retirement or just a quick getaway in Latin America, there are probably a lot of things on your “to-do” list. Spend some time at the beach. Hike to some waterfalls. Maybe take a tour of a coffee plantation. Get some dental implants. Explore the jungl…
What’s that? No dental implants?
While it may not seem like your typical vacation agenda, more and more tourists are finding out what expats already know about dental care in Panama. That its excellence and affordability rival the care you could expect to receive almost anywhere in the world.
From the quality of care you’ll receive to the quaint surroundings in which you can recover, dental care in Panama has a lot to offer both residents and visitors alike. Here are a few of the major perks.
Panama’s easily-accessible, central location has helped to position it as a growing hub for medical tourism. It’s a short flight from the U.S. to Panama City, where most of the best doctors and facilities are located. Many medical tourism companies will even arrange for every last detail of your trip, from airfare all the way down to the procedure itself.
When in Panama City, you’ll find it to be a perfectly acceptable place to recuperate. It’s a very cosmopolitan city with top-notch accommodations and infrastructure. And once on your road to recovery, you may even want to venture to a local beach or into the interior to see some of the magnificent tourist attractions the country has to offer.
The professionals you’ll encounter when you undergo dental care in Panama, will also bear some striking similarities to those in the U.S. Since many of the doctors will have trained in the U.S., a lot of them are bilingual. Others may have studied in Brazil or France or at the University of Panama, which has a great medical and dental school.
Dentists in Panama possess and utilize the same technology that U.S. dentists use. The facilities are clean and modern and offer excellent service. One key difference may be that the dentist may actually perform much more of the work by him or herself. By lowering the number of assistants needed to perform tasks such as cleanings and x-rays, the ultimate cost to the patient can be even further reduced.
While the overall quality of dental care in Panama is above average, your experience will only be as good as the provider you choose. Talk to someone who’s used them. Maybe several people. If anything seems out of line with your prior dental encounters, it could be a red flag.
Let’s talk a little about how much less you can expect to pay for dental care in Panama versus comparable procedures in the U.S. or Europe. Of course it all depends on your particular situation, but many expats and tourists have cited savings of as much as 50%. For those taking advantage of medical tourism, that includes airfare and accommodations. So the savings for local residents could be even higher.
A porcelain crown can be obtained for $475.00. Dental implants, which can be as high as $5,000 per tooth in the U.S., run around $1,550. Zoom whitening can be obtained for $100 bucks, as opposed to $550. And a routine cleaning will only set you back about $25. Panama also uses the U.S. dollar, so those coming from out-of-country won’t have to worry about exchanging currency.
The lack of malpractice lawsuits in Panama is a huge factor in keeping the cost of dental care low. It’s also a good reason to do your homework before choosing a medical provider. Ask for recommendations from other expats or use someone associated with a major hospital such as Punta Pacifica, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins.
You can also request that the dentist use materials (such as metals or porcelain) from the U.S., as opposed to Panama or Brazil. However, this could raise your costs slightly.
For expats, you can expect to see the same quality of dental care and cost savings on routine, as well as elective procedures. While some tourists may also decide to have a root canal or filling done in Panama, they’ll likely be coming to undergo a bit pricier procedure.
Some common cosmetic dentistry offerings are dental veneers, which are porcelain caps that are bonded to your teeth to hide gaps or discoloration. Dental implants are also offered to replace broken or missing teeth and improve the appearance of the mouth.
Inlays and onlays that serve as an alternative to fillings can be obtained. Orthodontic services are also available, as are restorative procedures like crowns, bridges, and even dentures.
As medical tourism continues to increase, the quality and affordability of dental care in Panama only stands to improve as well. This is good news if you’re thinking of becoming an expat. If you’re only visiting for a little while, explore your options to find out if you could improve your smile while you enjoy your vacation.