Is dental tourism is Brazil a good idea?
December 2, 2012 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Dental tourism filter: should I do this root canal treatment in Brazil?

I have a root canal treatment and a trip to Brazil scheduled. Should I made the two into one? Cost would be the main reason for doing it. Language is not an issue (I am Brazilian).

Is root canal enough of a routine procedure that most competent dentists without the latest state-of-the-art equipment would be able to do without a hitch? My dentist (not my endodostist, who might be doing the procedure) seems to think otherwise.

Bonus: can you recommend a dentist or a endodostist in São Paulo? (I have some recs, but want to have more options).
posted by TheGoodBlood to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Would it even be cheaper these days considering how expensive São Paulo is now?
posted by umbú at 9:54 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since you are Brazilian, I am sure that you know that Sao Paulo is not some kind of hovelish medieval backwater wherein all dental procedures are still performed by barbers with unwashed hands using leeches! Your local dentist (I assume this is in the US) is being maybe a little money grubby and/or xenophobic, I think. Also there is no reason to expect that dentists or endos in Brazil would not also have the most state of the art equipment. And yes, it is a very routine procedure.
posted by elizardbits at 9:56 AM on December 2, 2012

Yes, the medical care in many other countries is equal or better than what you can get here, even technology-wise. My SO's dad gets all his dental work done in Spain and all his non-emergency medical care done in the Dominican Republic. I'm seriously considering adopting the same policy despite barely speaking any Spanish at all.

In the DR, somewhere between many and most doctors trained in the US, even.
posted by wierdo at 10:05 AM on December 2, 2012

Response by poster: To clarify, my dentist thinks one needs a state-of-the-art electronic microscope to do the procedure successfully (the wikipedia article seems to agree). The dentists I talked to in SP don't have one, and quote the treatment at a fraction of the cost here (in Canada). I'm now trying to contact dentists in SP who do have the equipment to ask about the costs -- I suspect they'd be the same as here, actually.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2012

How complicated the root canal is varies depending on the tooth and the problem. I've had two, one was a lot more straight forward than the other. Things to consider include how many and how wiggly the roots are, how bad and where the infection is, what other facial features may be involved (e.g. one of my root fillings presses into my sinuses), what's dead, what's worth saving, etc etc etc. So it might be easily done with standard dental equipment or it might take the fancy microscope whatever, we can't really tell. Annoyingly we also can't tell if the dentist is being money grubbing or appropriately careful. I do know that a failed root canal is really painful and expensive, so get as many opinions as you need to be sure you're making a good decision.
posted by shelleycat at 10:53 AM on December 2, 2012

What tooth is it? I don't think they used any electronic microscope when I had my root canal (done by an endodontist at a dental school; she called it a "nightmare root canal," yay!), though who knows what they were doing, and that was like five years ago so maybe things have changed. And some root canals are more complicated than others.

But: when I had a root canal (in the US) I had to go in several times - to have the tooth shaved down and a temporary crown made, then for the root canal (which took a couple of hours - chair time, not waiting room time), and then to have the permanent crown installed. I think maybe I went back again to have them check on the fit of the permanent crown. And actually fabricating the permanent crown (which, if I recall, was the most expensive part of the procedure - gold and all that) took a while (like, weeks). Definitely some of that time can be shaved down (people have emergency root canals all the time) but it's quite time-consuming. Also, would the Brazilian dentist need to do his/her own x-rays?

I guess just make sure that the money you save is worth the time you spend out of your trip. Like, if I was going for a week or two, for visiting people or vacation, I wouldn't want to spend most of a day of my trip on dental procedures. If you're going to be there for months, the calculations are different.
posted by mskyle at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2012

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