Lots of my friends back in the States have been asking me about health care in Panama. In fact, it’s one of the first questions people asked when we announced our intent to move here. They seem to believe there IS no health care here or if there is, it’s awful and dangerous.
Well, for my friends back home, I’m about to find out first hand. I’ll be experiencing Boquete dentistry up close and personal in the weeks to come. Why? Check this out:
So there I was, munching on a chicken salad sandwich from our local bakery, Sugar ‘n Spice. Love that sandwich! Bread fresh-baked daily, tasty chicken salad. No hidden walnuts, nothing crunchy in it. All of a sudden I’ve feeling something wa-a-ay different. Something (comparatively) large, rolling around in my oral region that definitely isn’t supposed to be there. What the heck?
The I felt the hole where a tooth should have been. Quick as a bunny, I put 2 and 2 together and realized I had almost bitten down on a loose tooth. How does something like that happen? I hadn’t been eating anything hard and I wasn’t chewing gum. It just fell out.
This happened earlier this afternoon, Friday the 2nd. Why, oh why, do things like this happen on a Friday afternoon? How am I going to get in to a dentist when: A) there is short notice — I need to get into the office NOW and B) I don’t even know a dentist yet!
John had been to a dentist a couple of weeks ago and liked his experience. It was a normal visit: an exam and cleaning. I thought I’d give it a shot. So, I called Dra. Monica Sanjur at her office. (For my non-spanish speaking friends, Dra. means a female doctor). Her office assistant, Pilar, got me in at 3:30 this afternoon! 3 hours notice and they’re getting me in. So far, I’m pleased.
John picked me up and we went to her office a couple of blocks north of Romero’s on the main street. We waited about 10 minutes after handing my passport and temporary pensiondo visa to the office assistant for the paperwork. She asked me what I was alergic to, what medications , etc. and then I was shown into Dra. Sanjur’s back office. Clean, spotless and very, um, dentical looking. Dra. Sanjur speaks decent enough English and seems to know her stuff.
She examined my teeth, probed around in the gaping hole in my mouth and inspected the tooth I had put in a damp napkin to show her. Why I put a manufactured crown into a damp napkin, I’ll never know. Old habit from childhood, I guess, when people actually lost a whole tooth and we were taught to keep the tooth moist. But a crown? Silly girl, c’mon!
Dra. Sanjur then told me we had options. We may just be replacing a crown, or we may have to do a root canal. She said we’d need to bring in a specialist for the root canal, but that the specialist would come to her office. I asked about pricing (I’m remembering we only have cataclysmic insurance and I’m seeing funds for the art studio circling the drain faster than I can lean over and rinse into Dra. Sanjur’s own porcelain bowl.)
She rattled off a series of numbers, all having to do with options. “If we do option A, then you will need this to happen and it costs blankety blank for this; if we do option B, then that will happen and it will cost blankety blank. We will know nothing of course, until the x-rays are taken,” she concluded.
After taking x-rays she fitted me for a temporary (ouch, that damn mold hurt!) .
I told her I was going to be out of town for a few days and she said “Well, then, I guess we’ll need to put a rush on the lab for that temporary.” We went to her outer office and she quoted me $10 for the x-ray (!!!) and $130 for the temporary, which will be ready first thing Monday morning. I’m not supposed to pay until the temporary is fitted on Monday. Sanjur said we will then take it step by step, but that the x-ray showed a good, stable root in existence, so I’m hoping it’s a crown we’re doing and not a root canal plus a bridge.
I am going to keep you apprised of the costs as we go. I’ll be interested to see how this adventure pans out, what the costs are and how the dental care is here in Boquete.
So far, I’m highly impressed, both with the service, the technical knowledge AND the pricing.
Stay tuned, highly interested dental fans!