Dentists & Travel

May 30, 2008


Many people think a medical or dental problem abroad would be a nightmare, but it does not have to be that way. No one wants these things to happen when in a foreign land, but when one is doing extended travel the risks are higher for something to come up, so sometimes it has to be faced.

Some people even book "tooth tourism" to get around the high prices in countries like the U.S and the U.K.. Spain has long had a good reputation in this area and we have been very pleased with the care we have received there. Luckily, we are really healthy, but sometimes you can not escape every problem and just have to face it... on the road or not.  I need to have my teeth cleaned every three months, so we get to explore dentists in various countries, like it or not. I try to find locals that I connect with and trust and ask them for recommendations.

Our seven month European Odyssey 2008 started with a bang and not the kind that anyone wants. It was a severe pain banging in my head all night and kept me awake the all night on our last one before departure. We had tried to be proactive in preventing this kind of problem, but sometimes life as its own ideas that do not cooperate with our plans.

We had seen our dentists several times this past winter and the last time only the week before. Last year DaVinci got a lot of dental work done ( at great prices for high quality work!) and I lucked out not needing much.  I started this journey in 2006 with three possible time bombs in my mouth, so they are always a little on my mind as there are places that I really prefer not to have a problem and seeing a dentist in a foreign land is always a little scarier than home and I tend to be a dental chicken. I had my first cavity at thirty six , so have little experience with dental work and would prefer to keep it like that.

Apparently, destiny had something else in mind. My two last, back upper molars have been possible candidates for root canals that we have been keeping an eye on closely. Last winter one acted up, but then it had been no problem until very recently. I have been hesitant to do a root canal as they sometimes can be problematic and go out at absolutely the wrong time which is not too reassuring with travel. Mozart also jumped on me in bed and almost pulled out my front tooth right before we left, so that is another one we watch but has been ok so far. My long root seems to have saved me there although my smile will never be the same, but at my age, I do not have much vanity left about looks.

So I went to the dentist for a check up the week before going and it seemed that one of those molars had an abscess and needed to be pulled and the other was cracked and had a 95% chance of being fine if the new filling she put in would  hold. The filling was actually more painful than the extraction of the other tooth, but I was not having much fun eating the last week we were in Spain. Both teeth seemed to be healing fine for the first week and then I started getting intermittent pain with the molar that had been filled. I went back to the dentist to have it pulled, but it was not hurting when I was there and had not hurt all day,so we decided to wait.

That turned out to be the wrong decision because the day we left on May 15th, it was a big holiday and almost everything was closed including my Danish dentists office. She had gone off on a long week end holiday with her family. Why do these things always seem to happen at the wrong time? We had so many last minute things to do before our landlords met us early in the morning and my whole head was throbbing in pain, but I managed survive the night pacing the floors and doing what I could with an ice pack on my jaw to try and numb the pain a little.

Luckily we have two dentists in Spain and the office of specialists from Argentina were right next door and open on this holiday. The root canal specialist was in on this day which was a stroke of luck, but they could not take me until one in the afternoon, so there was more waiting in pain.We agreed to leave early out of our apartment, so I curled into a fetal position in the bed of the camper, while Mozart and her dad got some lunch.  Some days one just ends up having to endure. I was grateful that I knew this dentist and he is very kind as are all the people in the office and they have a very good reputation.

I actually have more fear of root canals than extraction, so I decided to go with the latter, somewhat based on our travel. Like the other one I just lost a week earlier, these teeth are not needed for chewing. One hates to lose a tooth, but I also know that root canals can be precarious and not always dependable, even by the best dentist. There are no guarantees. Too many people seem to have stories of them giving them problems at the wrong time. After a night of sever pain with no dentist available,  I was ready to be done with this and needed the peace of mind of not having to worry about it giving me a major problem in a bad area.

He did really a superb job and I felt very well taken care of and they even gave us medicine and instant ice packs to take with us. I would have loved to rested in bed the rest of the day, but that was not one of my options.

It is not a pleasant story, but it does have a happy ending. I wanted to share it, so others who worry about such things happening on the road can know that it can be just as safe as handling it at home. I think the major key is finding dentists that are highly recommended by people you trust who have used them for years... just like you do at home. Between the three of us, we have had to get quite a bit of dental work done on the road ( mostly in Spain).  The good news is we got first rate care at super bargain prices, so we also saved a bundle than if we had done it at home. I am grateful for the peace of mind and my frugal side is happy about the money saved!

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Dental work is no fun - plain and simple! Funny that as I read this post I have a dental appointment looming for this Thursday! I'm glad all went well for you.

I'm still really enjoying keeping up with your family's travels and still trying to think of a way we can copy you!


Thanks Chandra! Hope your dental appointment went well too. I will be righting more posts on how to info and will try to get an ebook with more details done this hopefully that will be useful to you and others who want to do extensive family travel.

dentists in los angeles

Very well said,dental work on the road i think its nice!Thank you for posting this article i enjoyed reading it.


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I think the major key is finding dentists that are highly recommended by people you trust who have used them for years... just like you do at home. This is the best way and its a very informative. Keep up the good work.

by: florence

Dental Richmond Hill

Dental tourism has become much more popular in recent years. With the poor economy, people are looking for more economical ways of getting dental care.


My Canadian dentist asked me to get a cleaning around August so I'll be looking at Columbia or Ecuador. I need to do a bit of research to see if I can find a good place, maybe Quito?


ayngelina - I imagine a big city is always best & I would talk to expats & locals there that you trust to get a recommendation. That has always worked for us. The internet and social media makes it all so easy today. Good luck!

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