The Complete Guide to Finding the Best Dentist in Costa Rica

Finding the Best Dentist in Costa Rica

If you currently call Costa Rica your home, or you’re interested in coming here to get dental work done, you might be surprised to know that the country has some of the most qualified dentists in the world.

Moreover, prices for dental work in Costa Rica are a fraction of the cost of treatment in many Western and North American countries.

However, this doesn’t mean you can visit any clinic and always find a good dentist.

Therefore, we’ve put together this guide to help you differentiate qualified dentists from unqualified ones, explore the dental treatments available to you in the country, and determine how much you need to pay.

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Key Takeaways

  • Dental treatment in Costa Rica is up to international standards but at a fraction of the cost compared to North American and Western countries.
  • Because of this, Costa Rica is a popular option for Americans seeking dental tourism.
  • While dentists in Costa Rica are generally good, it doesn’t mean you can visit any clinic. Instead, you should still pick one that maintains high standards.
  • There are many dental clinics in Costa Rica that specifically target expats and tourists. While these are more expensive than local clinics, the quality is normally better.

Should I See a Dentist in Costa Rica?

One of the main reasons why expats decide to retire and live in Costa Rica is because of the country’s excellent health care system, which includes quality dental treatment, and medical tourists visit for the same reason.

Nowadays, many foreigners travel to Costa Rica to take advantage of the growing number of specialized dentists and dental treatment in the country.

Yes, this small country cares about the dental health of its citizens and all those who want to visit for dental work, and it shows in the dentists’ attention to detail, dental work guarantees, and prices.

costa rica city center
Many people fly to Costa Rica for dental treatment, especially those who live in North America.

Affordable Price

Dentists in Costa Rica offer fair prices for dental work. This is why hundreds of patients every year travel here for dental treatment that in their home countries would be difficult to afford.

To put it simply, getting dental treatment in Costa Rica is going to be 2-3 times cheaper than in the United States.

For example, dental implants are one of the most requested treatments by patients who fly to Costa Rica for dental work. It can cost more than $30,000 to get all-on-4 dental implants in the United States. However, in Costa Rica, it would only cost $14,000.

Dental veneers are also another popular treatment that medical tourists in Costa Rica get. In the United States they are priced at $1,245 while in Costa Rica they are only $500.

Quality

Costs aside, foreigners also prefer to get dental work done in Costa Rica because many dentists in the country have studied abroad. This almost always guarantees a high level of competence.

Lastly, materials used for dental treatment in Costa Rica are manufactured by multinational companies that distribute their products worldwide.  

This means the equipment and materials are of the standard quality and ensures the results of dental work are on par with international standards.

Types of Dentists

Now that you know the reasons for choosing dentists in Costa Rica for your dental work, let’s look at the different types of dentists you can find here.

  • General Dentists: Dentists who take care of your most basic dental problems. General dentists handle endodontics, dental extractions, fillings, and dental reconstructions.
  • Prosthodontists: Dentists who restore and replace missing or damaged teeth. If you need complete dental rehabilitation, the best option for you will be to visit a prosthodontist.
  • Pediatric Dentists: Dentists who specialize in children’s care. They will tend to your child’s dental needs without traumatizing your son or daughter. If you live in Costa Rica with your kids, this is very beneficial because they will always need quality dental care.
  • Orthodontists: Dentists who provide patients with maximum functionality of the teeth in addition to improving the aesthetics of the patient. Dentists provide foreign patients residing in the country with the most innovative treatments, interdisciplinary dentistry and, if necessary, combined surgical and orthodontic treatment.
  • Periodontists: Dentists who take care of the health of the soft tissues of your mouth. They specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and correct treatment of periodontal diseases. They also treats different diseases that occur in the periodontium, or the gums. The most common ailment periodontists fix is gingivitis.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Dentist: Dentists who that specializes the medical-surgical area of dentistry. With the help of this kind of dentists, patients will be able to prevent, undergo studies and diagnoses, receive treatment, and rehabilitate in case of problems in the mouth, teeth, or face.
  • Geriatric Dentist: Dentists who specialize in treating the elderly and can even provide their services at the patient’s home depending on the severity of the dental problem.
  • Cosmetic Dentists: Dentists who return the shape and function back to patient’s teeth. Porcelain dental veneers, dental whitening, dental reconstructions, resin laminates, cosmetic dental re-contouring, and dental closing gaps are some of the dental treatments that fall under this category.
  • Dental Implantologist: Dentists who provides the patient with a series of treatments through dental implants. This type of implant is permanently placed to renew the function of lost teeth.

It can be simply said that you can find a dentist for your issues in Costa Rica, no matter how simple or severe.

Some examples of dental treatments you can get in Costa Rica are as follows:

  • Dental crowns
  • Veneers
  • Endodontic treatments
  • Dental extractions
  • Dental implants
  • Full mouth restoration
  • Dental Surgeries
  • Tooth Whitening
  • Cosmetic dentistry

Quality of Dentist in Costa Rica

Dental treatment in Costa Rica is generally of high quality.

This is because of the high educational standards of Costa Rican dental schools, which are internationally recognized for their quality.

Dentists in Costa Rica are required to complete a 6-year program at a dental school, followed by another 2-4 years to become specialist dentists.

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woman getting dental treatment
The quality of dental treatment in Costa Rica is comparable to developed countries.

In addition, many dentists have also graduated from countries known for their excellent dental education, such as the United States, Canada, and Germany.

Many leading dental clinics use modern equipment in their treatments. Therefore, it can be simply said that the quality of dental care you will receive in Costa Rica is likely to be good, on par with or even better than what you are accustomed to back home.

Most dentists speak English fluently, so you won’t have any problems communicating the treatment you need.

Warranty

Moreover, in Costa Rica, major dental clinics offer a lifetime warranty on dental implants and have a solid track record of replacing failed implants.

Goodness Dental Costa Rica is an example of a dental clinic that offers lifetime guarantees on the titanium implants they set. If the implant fails, they will replace it at no cost.

Finding the Best Dental Clinics

When you get dental work done in Costa Rica, you’ll get to pick from a variety of dentists who offer specialized care, use modern equipment and quality materials, and offer affordable prices. 

Below are some examples of clinics you can visit to get quality dental work while living in or visiting Costa Rica. They treat national and foreign patients, their staff speak English, and they offer a variety of dental treatment.

Keep in mind, some of the clinics listed below have even been accredited by Global Clinic Ratings and meet all standard requirements in regard to patient safety and quality dental care.

Prisma Dental

Prisma Dental is located in San José, a capital city of Costa Rica.

The clinic is dedicated to providing a wide variety of dental treatment including diagnosis, tooth extractions, x-rays, dental fillings, dental sealants, and teeth cleanings. 

Prisma dental dentist team
The team of dentists from Prisma Dental

In addition, they specialize in dental implants, periodontal surgical treatments, and cosmetic and restorative dentistry that includes veneers, crowns, and bridges.

Their dentists speak English and clearly explain the process, risks, and benefits that come with the treatment.

Prisma Dental also offers pediatric dentistry and orthodontics for children as well as endodontic procedures including surgery and special procedures to save teeth after traumatic accidents.

The clinic offers a pleasant, cool, and clean environment and uses modern technology.

Freer Dental Implant Center

Freer Dental Implant Center is also located in San José. All their dentists are qualified professionals who speak fluent English and use advanced dental implant technologies. 

getting dental implants at freer dental implant center.
As the name suggested, Freer Dental Implant Center specialize in dental implants.

They provide patients with services that include full mouth restorations and cosmetic dentistry procedures such as dental implant placements, periodontal surgery, crowns, bridges, resin and porcelain veneers, teeth whitening, and more.

At the time of this writing, they are one of a few dental clinics in Costa Rica that uses 3D surgical methods to get the most accurate placement of dental implants.

In addition, Costa Rica Dental Team offers a lifetime guarantee on their dental implants.

Clinica Mario Garita

Located in Avenida de las Americas, Torres del Parque Building, San José, Costa Rica, Clinica Mario Garita offers a wide variety of dental services such as cosmetic dentistry (teeth cleaning, whitening, porcelain veneers, porcelain bridges and crowns), prosthodontics (removable prostheses and complete dentures), dental implants, endodontics (root canals), and periodontics).

Clinica Mario Garita clinic
Clinica Mario Garita dental clinic has their own standalone building.

The clinic is equipped with the latest equipment, x-ray machines, and has qualified professionals who speak English.

Clinica Mario Garita have a complete dental laboratory in which they use only modern dental materials, which guarantees quality results. 

In addition, they adhere to international standards of quality and safety. Chinica Mario Garita also offer online estimates, available through a contact form on their website.

Goodness Dental Costa Rica

Goodness Dental Costa Rica is located in Habitat Empresarial Escazú, Floor 3, San Jose, Escazu. 

They offer crowns, bridges, root canals, full mouth restorations, dental implants, temporary prostheses, and dental veneers.

Goodness Dental Costa Rica
Goodness Dental costa Rica is known for their professional yet friendly dentists.

Goodness Dental Costa Rica is the only qualified clinic that offers dental restoration for Sjogren’s Syndrome, a disease that affects thousands of Americans and is considered the most common autoimmune disease in the USA.

They also offer intravenous sedation for patients who are afraid to get dental work because of previous trauma.

Patients can pay with cash, a credit card, PayPal, or wire-transfers from a US bank. The clinic even offers refunds if the treatment has to be interrupted. 

They will reimburse you for the treatment you paid for but didn’t receive, with the exception of some services–but this will be stated in your dental work contract.

Sonria Dental Clinic CR

Located in Centro Comercial Manara Center, Local 7, Guachipelín, Escazú, San José Costa Rica, Sonria Dental Clinic CR offers comfort, aesthetics, innovation, technology, and highly trained specialists.

Sonria Dental Clinic Uniform
Sonria Dental Clinic CR have their own uniform to make them really standout from other clinics.

All patients receive personalized services, and the dentists provide innovative solutions and speak English fluently. 

They offers a wide range of professional services such as oral restorations (tooth extractions, crowns, veneers), cosmetic dentistry (tooth whitening, zirconia crowns, porcelain veneers, and fixed or partial dentures), and dental prosthesis. 

Sonria Dental Clinic CR also offer services for periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics, and resin restorations. 

Others

In addition to the dental clinics above, you can also check out:

Prices

Expats and visitors to Costa Rica alike have their dental work done in the country for two reasons. The first reason, which we already covered, is quality. The second, which will go over below, is price.

Here is a list of dental procedures you can get done in Costa Rica and how much it’ll generally cost you.

  • All-on-4 Dental Implant: US$1,200-US$1,600
  • Dental Crown on Natural Tooth: US$450-US$600
  • Dental Crown on Implant: US$800-US$1,000
  • Porcelain Veneer: US$400-US$600
  • Laser Teeth Whitening (1-day treatment): US$300
  • Regular Dental Cleaning: US$80
  • Full Porcelain/Ceramic Crown: US$500
  • Porcelain Fused to Gold Crown: US$680
  • Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown: US$600
  • Zirconia Crown: US$555
  • Temporary Crown/Veneer: US$90
  • Full Denture, Acrylic Teeth (upper or lower): US$735
  • Full Denture, Porcelain Teeth (upper or lower): US$825
  • Implant Supported Overdenture, Removable (with 2 implants): US$3,030
  • Implants Supported Porcelain Bridge, Full Arch (with 4 implants): US$10,270
  • Standard Titanium Dental Implant (implant only): US$835
  • Root Canal (molar): US$350
  • Dental Procedure: IV Sedation (by anesthesiologist): US$515

Keep in mind the list above is not exhaustive and only an estimate.

One thing to be cautious of is extremely low prices. Lower than average prices (for Costa Rica), could signify unprofessional services, and you don’t want to put your teeth–or health—at risk by going to an unqualified dentist.

With that said, even when you visit a professional, qualified dentist in Costa Rica, you will save anywhere from 40% to 70% of the cost you’d pay back home.

In some cases, you can even finance your dental work through different payment plans, but it’s best to talk to the clinic to find out what option is best for you.

Choosing the Best Dentist

Before choosing the best dentist to suit your needs, you have to know how to pick the right dentist.

Some dentists work out of small clinics that don’t have modern equipment. Although you can get basic dental work done at these places, for more serious treatments you should go to a clinic that employs a team of specialists who work with up-to-date equipment.

Cosa Rica has about 6,000 qualified dentists and more than 100 dental clinics throughout the country.

Here’s what to consider when picking a dentist:

  • Pick a dentist that is close to where you live
  • If the dentist doesn’t look trustworthy, call the College of Dentists of Costa Rica to verify that your dentist is licensed
  • Avoid choosing the cheapest dentist; price shouldn’t be a factor when choosing the best dentist and the best treatment for your dental needs
  • Make sure that both the clinic and the dentist comply with all the basic hygiene and sterilization measures

One way to find a dentist in Costa Rica is to join for groups of foreigners living in the country on facebook. 

Many people share their experiences of living in Costa Rica, and it’s a good place for you to ask about dentists.

Visiting the Dentist

When you visit a dentist in Costa Rica for the first time, it’s important that you follow some important steps to guarantee you get the best care. 

With that said, we recommend taking the following steps.

Make an Appointment

After selecting the dentist or dental clinic that meets your needs, make an appointment. Many of the staff working in dental clinics can speak English, so communicating with them will be easy.

Usually in Costa Rica, you can make an appointment on any day of the week except Sunday—but in case of an emergency, many dental clinics will accommodate your needs. 

If you need to change your appointment, let the clinic know in advance so that they can reschedule your visit. 

Note that if your dental care is through social security, CCSS, you’ll need to go to the hospital or health clinic to get an appointment, which can take days or weeks.

As for private dental clinics in Costa Rica, you can usually get same-day appointments.

Show up Prepared

You should get to your appointment 15 minutes early, and remember to give your dentist or receptionist as many details about your case as possible. 

Your dentist needs to know if you have prior health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure to avoid problems, in case, for example, he or she has to apply anesthesia.

They need to know if you’ve had any dental work done in the past and even if some dental work has failed you. 

The dentist will then create a clinical record for you, take you into the room, and start your checkup.

Your dentist will then let you know if you need any further treatment or tests, such as cleanings or x-rays.

Lastly, on the day of your appointment, don’t forget to bring all your documents that show are a legal resident and that your social security is up to date.

After your appointment is over, you can then pay your bill.

Pay Your Bill

In Costa Rica, most businesses (including dental clinics) take cash—which you can transfer from your home country into Costa Rica at an affordable rate—debit, or credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

It’s likely that after your first visit, you’ll have to return for a follow-up, which will also depend on the treatment you need.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have, either about prices or the dental treatment itself. 

Costa Rican dental staff are kind, responsible, and will always be willing to help you.

Insurance

In Costa Rica, there are two insurance systems that expats can have access to. 

One is the universal health system, which is administered by the government, specifically by the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS). It’s commonly called CAJA.

The CCSS offers foreign legal residents the option of contributing a small percentage of their monthly income in exchange for free medical treatment at the country’s public hospitals.

Generally speaking, CAJA provides free healthcare in Costa Rica. However, it could take up to 18 months to obtain residency and membership in the CCSS.

Additionally, the dental coverage is quite limited, primarily covering extractions and dental treatment following accidents.

To use CAJA, you must visit a clinic assigned to you. If they cannot treat you, you will be referred to a larger facility.

The second option is to apply for private insurance. You might want to take out a private policy during those waiting months because you never know when you’ll need coverage.

With private insurance, you can visit any clinic of your choice and have your insurance pay for it. However, dental coverage is normally optional, meaning you need to pay extra to receive it.

Also, it mainly covers only the treatment deemed necessary by your dentists. This means any cosmetic treatment, including teeth whitening and dental implants, might not be covered.

Now, on to You

Whether you’re a long-term expat or a short-term visitor to Costa Rica, finding a dentist in the country doesn’t have to be difficult.

With the right resources, proper insurance, and a little foresight, you’ll be on your way to getting quality dental care at a fraction of the cost you’d pay in your home country.

Michael K is originally from Florida. He moved to Costa Rica in 2010 and is now enjoying his life in a new country. He had been an official translator for the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund in Costa Rica for many years.

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