I have been leery of dentists in Panama as I've gone to about 4 and not really found one that I entirely trust.
Neil goes to a dentist in Bejuco about 20 minutes down the road and he really likes her. He broke a tooth and he got in to see her within an hour of talking to her. She did a filling and a cleaning for $39 US. He was very happy with her and her work. He's been back a couple of times for cleaning and one other filling.
I went with him the first time. She was very nice and gentle but she works out of an older building. To me, after the bright, sterile environments of Canadian dentists, this office didn't feel clean. It was a little shabby and worn and I believed the equipment was older.
Two weeks ago I lost a filling that had been done by one of these early dentists. A Panama Roadrunner customer recommended Dr.Chang who was here in Coronado. I had been to this office a few years earlier and saw one of the other dentists. She was very rough! I wasn't sure I wanted to trust anyone locally but I was pleasantly surprised.
Last Friday I went for my first appointment. Dr. Chang listened to my experiences here and offered me a one year guarantee on his work. He took two spot xrays and spent about 20 minutes going over a game plan. I needed two crowns (which I already knew) and one filling.
The charge for the visit and xray? $10
(Yes, you did read that right)
Today I went for the first filling. He was very thoughough and detailed throughout the process. He pre-froze my upper gum so that when he had to put the needle with the freezing in I barely felt anything. He does not work with a dental assistant but handles everything on his own. Twenty minutes later I looked in the mirror and could not even see the filling! It matched the tooth perfectly and I could not feel any ridges with my fingertip. I couldn't be happier!
He also took an impression of my back tooth to get started on the crown work.
I went to the receptionst to book my next appointment and pay. The total was $51.
When I was in Lethbridge Alberta last November I had a filling fall out. The Canadian dentist could not figure out what the material was that was in my tooth - it was spongy. I don't know what the Panamanian dentst put in! He charged me $134 for a teeny one surface filling....today the larger filling price of $51 made me quite happy!
I've had some negative experiences here, but there are good dentists. Most of the local dentists were trained in Mexico.
In two weeks I go back for my crown. I will update you but feel confident in referring Dr. Chang.
Our advice if you are in need of dental work? Talk to expats here and get a feel for their experiences. Go visit the dentist yourself before you choose to get any work done. Find out how they clean their tools (some just use Lysol wipes) and see for yourself if the office is clean.
January 20, 2015 UPDATE
My last appointment with Dr. Chang was extremely uncomfortable. His methods of removing my crown involved using a hardware store screwdriver. He noted I had an abscess under that tooth and rather than finding a way to deal with the abscess, he suggested we just leave it alone.
I have since found an American dentist in Panama city - a Zonian (grew up in the Canal Zone) who trained in the U.S. He had up to date equipment including digital xrays and the office was meticulously clean and I felt totally comfortable with him. I've been back to Dr. Charlie Garcia two other times and I am taking Neil on Wednesday when I go back again.
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