Evaluation of Treatment Received at Ocean Dental and Recommendation -Cancun, MX
Relatively recently I returned from a trip to...
My dental problem was caused by an athletic accident in which my 4 upper teeth were traumatized. The upper center tooth was knocked out; the tooth to the left of it was severely loosened and the mobility of tooth to the left of this tooth and the tooth to the right of the missing tooth increased significantly. Although I was fitted with a flipper (to replace the missing tooth), the other affected teeth became progressively more mobile over a period of about 10 years. Last year, it became very obvious that a treatment plan was needed to repair all 4 teeth.
My Dentist advised me to see a Periodontist. When I did, he told me that the 3 teeth surrounding the flipper had to be extracted. The two most lateral (outside) teeth could be replaced with implants but since the bone structure above my two center teeth was significantly eroded, a bone graft was needed and even then synthetic teeth had to be used to bridge the gap between the implants.
The Periodontist I consulted would not quote me a price until he extracted the outside teeth and allowed the teeth to either side of the surrounding teeth to heal, since they too were mobile. There were other complications as well. When I consulted another Periodontist the ball-park estimate was any ware between $18,000 and $20,000. Any number between 18 and 20k was unaffordable because I retired recently. It was at this point that I decided to identify safe and less costly treatment alternatives in Mexico. As many of you know, although there are several cheaper alternatives, the available criteria for choosing the least risky alternative will not reduce the risk to what it is in the US, where there is considerable oversight of the practice of Medicine and Dentistry by Federal and State governments. I therefore had to tolerate more risk than if I had chosen to be treated in the US. I was convinced that I could reduce this risk. I thought that one effective way to do this is by reading the reviews of other people who opted for dental treatment in Mexico.
Ultimately, I realized that I could not use this strategy. One reason was that some reviews focused on significant considerations or experiences such as hygiene and treatment and others focused on what I would consider less important, such as where the clinic was located and the accuracy of the website. Perhaps most troubling was that many did not provide sufficient details and were either extremely positive or negative. However, the reviews of one clinic, Ocean Dental in Cancun, were quite positive and this clinic defended itself from negative comments in what appeared to be an informed and thoughtful way. What seemed most unbelievable to me is that some of these negative reviews were written by other clinics, not patients.
I therefore contacted them, explained my condition, and requested a treatment plan and an itemized list of costs. They responded promptly. The total cost was $4700, including as many x-rays as needed, the extractions, bone grafts, post implants, temporary and permanent abutments, temporary crowns, provisional bridge, permanent crowns, the bridging teeth and the material used to construct them e.g. porcelain overlaid on metal or zirconium. I no doubt have not included other details.
Although I was encouraged by the answers to my questions, I needed considerably more information. I first needed to determine the background of Dr. Galvadin, the dentist who owned the business. I found that she graduated from the U of Michigan dental school. She also teaches there. (As it turned out she had recently returned from U of M, before the final stage of my treatment plan was completed.) Although a practice in the US would have been considerably more lucrative, she decided to move to Cancun to be near her son. He lives there and studies dentistry.
I next asked about who would be performing the extractions, oral surgery, including the extractions, membrane and post implants, temporary abutments, and bone graft. I was told that a licensed oral surgeon would perform these procedures. They obviously could tell me anything, but I was impressed with the detail they provided. I therefore decided to fly to Cancun and conditionally agree to the treatment.
Air Tran offered me the least expensive tickets. My wife used Priceline to make reservations at the Kin-Ha Beachscape Resorts. It was in the Hotel Zone, near the Clinic, and located on the ocean, but buffered from the rough surf by a large island, Isla Muheres. We considered the accommodations to be exceptional for $110/ night, although the cost at other times of the year may be more. The food was very good and the hotel was within walking distance of downtown. As you might expect, comments by other patients convinced us that the hotel problems encountered, e.g. no AC, inability or uncooperative managers, were only likely if we choose to stay in less expensive, $50-60, hotels. We did not encounter any of these problems or others at the Kin Hah.
When we arrived at the clinic, if my observations and answers to additional questions were not satisfactory, I was prepared to eat the cost of the trip and enjoy Cancun. My wife and I flew to Cancun in January 2012 and remained there for 4 days. As it turned out, we did not have to remain for this length of time.
Upon arriving at Cancun, a representative from Ocean Dental was waiting to drive us to the clinic. Although a chauffeur is not necessary, I considered this support to be essential no matter what country or clinic you choose.
The employee of Ocean Dental transported us to our hotel and from there drove us to the clinic. Not long after I arrived, I was escorted to one of their treatment rooms, where x-rays were captured using computerized technology that enabled them to focus the radiation on individual teeth, not on a large section of the mouth. Next impressions were taken. They were used to design a provisional bridge that would be worn during the recovery period.
Next I was examined by an oral surgeon who explained the details of the procedure. I asked about his background and he informed me that he was an attending (not a student) at the local hospital and owned his own business in mainland Cancun. I asked whether the instruments he planned to use in his procedures were autoclaved (sterilized). He emphasized that they were. I next asked him the posts, membranes, and bone were purchased. He informed me that all were purchased from US FDA approved vendors and showed me the separate vials containing these materials. I finally asked what scale he used to determine the length of posts that would be implanted in the sockets of the extracted teeth. He showed me the registration (scale) on the x-ray image. The scale clearly enabled him to measure to the millimeter the necessary length of the post. His answers convinced me that I should allow him to proceed.
He first injected the standard (short-acting) anesthetic, performed the extractions, implanted the membranes and posts, and installed the temporary abutments and bone in about 1 hr. My impression was that his surgical skills, especially his suture technique, were excellent. He wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic (Augmentin) and a strong non-steroidal (e.g. ibuprofen) and I was transported to a pharmacy, where it was filled. If I had to do this again, I would take the Augmentin preemptively, a couple of days before this treatment. Augmentin is not a controlled drug in either the US or, I think, Mexico so they can ship it to you.
I was not in pain and upon arriving; I brushed my teeth and rinsed my mouth with Chlorhexidine, a broad spectrum antimicrobial mouthwash, and Periomed, a concentrated stannous fluoride mouth wash that also is antibacterial. (Although your dentist will tell you that you need a prescription for both, you can purchase either one on EBay and no prescriptions are required.) As you might assume, it is very critical to keep your mouth clean. Your wet, moist, warm mouth is an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria. I did not eat any solid food for 24hr. Instead, I drank Ensure. I also brought q-tips and hydrogen peroxide. I cleaned the incisions with several q-tips saturated with peroxide before using either mouthwash. I found this treatment to be very effective.
I slept well and remained in Cancun longer than necessary in the event that an infection developed. No infections were evident during the two additional recovery days in Cancun nor did an infection develop during the several months after I returned home. The recovery period typically lasts anywhere from 3-4 months. During that time, the posts typically stabilized as the bone regenerates. As it turned out, the teeth to either side of those that were extracted were also loose, but after recovery, they stabilized.
After the recovery period, we returned to Cancun for 5 additional days. We arrived on Jul 1 and returned on July 5.
On the day we arrived, x-rays and shade and color impressions were taken, small incisions were made to reveal the abutments, and the permanent abutments were installed. About 1.5 hr was required to complete these procedures. No antibiotic was required and I was returned to my hotel until the following day, when the provisional denture was installed.
On the third day after arriving, the permanent crowns were installed. X-rays revealed that they were perfectly aligned with the posts and the surrounding teeth. The bridge was attached. The back of it was trimmed to make certain that it was aligned with my bottom bite. The time required for these procedures to be performed on me was lengthy, about 2+ hr. The post-surgical x-rays revealed that the supporting posts were vertical. Perhaps most important was that I was very anxious about the extent to which the implant-supported bridge and adjustments to it resulted in a final product that accurately fit into the arrangement of the surrounding teeth and did not interfere with my ability to speak.
Upon returning to my hotel room and I spoke to my wife and daughter, neither one noticed that I spoke differently and, in 24 hr, I was not conscious of my new teeth. I now had teeth that felt as if they belonged in my mouth.
Today is August 6th and there are no apparent negative side-effects.
I am convinced the final product was more than worth the sacrifices I had to make, including money that I was required for air fare, hotels, and food. When all of these expenses were used to calculate total cost, I saved approximately 8-$10,000. I clearly could have saved more had I chosen to stay at less expensive hotels and eat at less expensive restaurants.
There are those of you who might object to the use of any dental treatment outside the U.S. I will not immerse myself into an on-line discussion of non-U.S. dental alternatives. What I have written is an account of my treatment by Ocean Dental. My conclusions are that the skills of Dr. Gavaldin, her support staff, and the oral surgeon resulted in a quality product that is at least as good as what you might find in many clinics in the U.S. When considered in combination with the money I saved not to mention our exposure to the beauty of Cancun, Ocean Dental clearly should be considered very seriously as alternative to virtually any clinic in the US. At the very least, you should request a quotation for the work you need done. I realize that you may not know what work needs to be done in which case I would recommend that your Dentist or Periodontist examine you.
You are not doubt aware that the time required to complete my treatment was very short. In fact, considering all that was required it is unbelievable short. It is clear to me that this outcome is a consequence of an approach to the practice of Dentistry that focuses on the individual. The result is quality product in a relatively short time. In conversations with patients from different states in the U.S., I learned that similar treatment can require many months. In the U.S., the time between treatment and appointments can be interminably long. I have friends who required similar treatment and waited more than a year for the final product. Ocean Dental delivers care almost immediately and can solve individual problems relatively rapidly even if a specialist is required.
My hope is you are convinced that Ocean Dental is a treatment alternative that you should consider, if not use. My teeth are displayed somewhere on their site and you can judge for yourself. I they are not I will post pictures during the next week.