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Costa Rica Cosmetic Dentistry

I had about a ten-year bout with bulimia beginning in the late 60s, before the name was coined. Thankfully, I completely overcame this horrific problem, but the effect on my teeth was disastrous. In addition, I should have had braces as a teenager, and I had a serious bruxism problem. This triple threat caused my teeth to be in terrible shape, and regretfully, I didn’t do anything about it until last year. I embarked on orthodontics and this process went well. Then I decided to have a full mouth restoration. I had 16 crowns, some quite old, broken and mismatched. All the remaining teeth were ground down and severely compromised. The cost of this in the US would be absolutely more than I could afford. I did a lot of research and had the work done in Costa Rica, by a dentist who was trained at UCLA and had a lot of great references. I was more of less pleased with the work (I didn’t quite like the color shading, as if I had plaque on my teeth! and there were some problems with specific crowns. My bite was not perfect, but I had to leave Costa Rica right after the crowns were cemented. My orthodontist did a little work on one crown that was high, but within two months, I had broken two crowns! I went to a cosmetic dentist here in Northern California and he made plaster molds of my teeth. It shows that my bite is quite off and I have a big overjet; my upper and lower teeth do not touch in the front, making it hard to bite food. I was about to have the two broken crowns replaced (the Costa Rican dentists refunded what I paid him for those two) but the other morning I woke up and discovered that my 3-unit bridge is LOOSE! I wear a nightguard every night and am careful what I chew! The gold bridge I had for 6 years never gave me any trouble. AND today I realized that the front teeth are getting quited stained, from my very modest tea/coffee/red wine consumption. I am beyond flabbergasted. I feel like I got TOY crowns. Have you ever heard of anything like this? The only financially sensible thing is to fly back to Costa Rica and have the original dentist replace all the defective work. Am I a complete fool to trust him? Thanks for any insights or feedback. The back crowns are zirconium and the front ones are VITA Inceram.
– Susan from California

It sounds like there are a number of problems with the work you have. If this dentist in Costa Rica made all these mistakes the first time, what makes you think he’ll get it right this time? It could be that he’s just not that good.

Dentistry is a very specialized art, and our standards of care in the United States are much higher than they are in other countries. The thing with dental care is that you can make mistakes that severely compromise the longevity of dental work, and it won’t become apparent for several years. You walk out the door, things look pretty good, and then later they fall apart. I’m not all that surprised by the problems you are having. They aren’t unique.

It sounds to me like there were fundamental flaws in how your work was done. The dentist may have been well-intentioned and honest, but just not that good.

You can’t tell that much from references provided by the dentist. Consider this – when you were all done, you were pretty happy with his work. You could have written one of those reference letters. But only now you’re finding out there were problems.

I would cut your losses and go to an excellent cosmetic dentist in the United States and get this done right.

Links: read more about porcelain crowns and porcelain veneers.