I LOVE my Dentist
At least three or four times a month I get email queries from people asking what I think about living and retiring in the Philippines. After I tell them that I love it here, I usually go into my personal list of pros and cons. Truthfully, when I add them up, there are MANY more cons than there are pros; but I always say that even so, those few pros FAR outweigh the abundant cons.
Just today, another “pro” occurred to me while I lay back in my dentist’s chair with my mouth wide-open. I was thinking, ‘if I HAVE to go to the dentist, this is THE way to do it.’ You see, BOTH my dentist and the assistant are attractive Filipinas, and EVEN when my teeth are being drilled, probed or scraped, its okay; because no matter what, I have those two gorgeous sets of delightful brown eyes to gaze up into. Call me crazy, but that’s all I need to keep me happy and to make it AAAALL better.
Aside from the “wonderful scenery” available in my particular dentist’s office, there is another even more important benefit—the low cost of treatment. I was reminded of exactly that today when I ran into a fellow Michigander, a cop from Detroit, and we got to talking about his dental plan. It turns out that even though I don’t have a dental plan at all over here, and pay as I go, I still pay a heck of a lot less than he does. Although, he was thrilled to tell me that he gets TWO free cleanings every year.
Today, I had a crown adjusted along with two teeth requiring drilling and fillings. I think I made my Detroit friend a little jealous when I told him that ALL that work cost me LESS than $16. I was there today because last week, my dentist—not a dental hygienist mind you—cleaned my teeth, and while doing so, discovered the two dental caries. She charged me a whole $9 for the cleaning. It almost doesn’t seem plausible, unless you live here that is.
Late last year one of my more important “grinders” began to ache off and on, and once it REALLY started to throb I asked around for a good dentist. A fellow retiree recommended Doctor Malijan over in Balibago next door to the RUMPA restaurant, and she’s been my dentist ever since. One of my larger molars, one with four separate roots, had some internal decay and needed a root canal. Over the course of four or five visits, she performed the procedure and capped it all off by installing a new crown. The total cost—just over $180. You can’t beat it!
There a LOT of dentists in this country, and most Filipinos pay a whole bunch less than I do even for their dental work. My dentist caters mostly to us foreigners and we don’t mind paying her a little more. She does exceptional work and I am rarely uncomfortable while she works on me.
Many visitors to the Philippines think that since it is a third-world country that services like dentistry would logically be out-of-date, but I haven’t found that to be true at all. The dentists AND the doctors here are very professional and well trained. There ARE a few problems, but a proactive person can easily stay ahead of them by being aware of them. For instance, one of my primary concerns is the lack of good pharmacology control. It seems that many doctors just aren’t that careful about ensuring that a patient’s multiple medications are NOT in conflict.
A final observation on the state of typical Filipino dental care is the national propensity to simply pull teeth and replace them with dentures. My own wife asked me why I went to all the trouble to have a root canal, when I could just have the offending tooth pulled and replaced with a denture. You will rarely find a local who has ever had tooth decay drilled out and replaced with a filling. I remember when my wife’s 8-year old niece looked into my mouth and saw my myriad fillings; she was horrified, believing that all the dark fillings had to be painful rotten spots. With a grimace, she backed away, pointing at my teeth declaring, “Bulok!” which means rotten.
Usually, by the time the average Filipino goes to a dentist it is to have a pain-wracked tooth extracted, because the decay has progressed way too far to do anything else. In the U.S. we go to great lengths to save teeth –to repair them – but not here. I’ve seen dazzlingly pretty teenage girls with a half-dozen missing front teeth. A good thing is that the typical Filipino dentist is very good at making replacements, and it’s cheap. A nice looking set of upper front dentures can be had for less than a hundred bucks.
Of course, I’ve also noticed that many people here have beautiful pearly white, straight and perfect choppers. Nonetheless, for those unfortunates who don't, they live in the perfect place to get new ones made that are – ONLY in the Philippines.
Labels: Medical, Philippines