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The Ultimate Costa Rica Dentists Guide

Get great savings on your dental care with quality-checked dentists in Costa Rica. Choose and book a dentist with Dental Departures and get reliable care and save an average of 70% compared to your dentist at home.

Visiting Costa Rica for dental treatment will give you the chance to enjoy world-class dental care in a country rich with history.

Meaning ‘rich coast’, Costa Rica was so named by Christopher Columbus in 1502, and its diverse terrain of jungles, beaches, volcanoes, coral reefs, mountains and hot springs teeming with an extraordinary percentage of plant and animal species are testament to this. This combination, along with the friendly disposition of the Ticos - as Costa Rican’s call themselves - make for a fascinating country to visit.

Historically, Costa Rica was home to four indigenous tribes, who were virtually wiped out when the Europeans arrived, so that today only 1% of Costa Rica’s population descends from its original inhabitants. The majority of the population is of European descent, while African and Chinese compose the rest.

In the past, thanks to exports of coffee, bananas and pineapples Costa Rica has had a relatively prosperous economy. More recently, pharmaceuticals, software development and ecotourism have become important industries, with tourism earnings now contributing the most to the Costa Rican economy.

By far, tourists from the United States make up the largest proportion of foreign visitors. A Central American time zone and affordable flights taking as little as 3 hours proving an irresistible combination for Americans wanting to experience the tropics without the long-haul. For patients looking for good-quality affordable treatment in a destination suiting all tastes, lifestyles and budgets, Costa Rica ticks all the boxes.

Where is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, connecting it to Panama in South America. Nicaragua borders the north, while to the east it borders the Caribbean Sea and to the west the Pacific Ocean. Its position 8-12 degrees north of the Equator gives it a tropical climate all year round.

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(Image by: Carlos Reusser Monsalvez)

Why visit a dentist in Costa Rica?

There are a number of important reasons why American and Canadian patients are visiting Costa Rican dentists, but finding a good quality dentist is one factor.

Your dentist’s expertise and know-how is of primary concern and Costa Rica’s dentists are just as expert and knowledgeable as your dentist at home. Many of our dentists are members of the American Dental Association, and you will also find that more and more are obtaining accreditation with, for example, organizations who are concerned with international patient safety standards.

Costa Rica’s proximity to the US and Canada is also important to many patients. Many are familiar with Latino culture and so, culturally, it is not so different, which is a consideration for some who may be undergoing extensive dental work and do not want the added worry of going to a destination which seems wholly unfamiliar.

With modern conveniences and amenities to make the day-to-day experience enjoyable, Costa Rica is a fantastic destination. Great weather and a variety of activities suiting all tastes contribute to its growing status as a popular tourist destination. Dental patients will find plenty of suitable pre and post-treatment activities to engage in, whether relaxing on a beach or trekking in the jungle.

Although these other factors are important, so too is the cost - as probably the first reason people look to Costa Rica for their dental care in the first place is because they cannot afford it at home. The cost comparisons show just how affordable a trip to Costa Rica for dental care is:-

  • Average cost of a single dental crown in the US $1,200, at a dentist in Costa Rica $350
  • Average cost of root canal, post and crown in the US $2,200, at a dentist in Costa Rica $750
  • Average cost of dental implant and crown in the US $3,900, at a dentist in Costa RIca $1,600

Where to stay in Costa Rica?

Hotel accommodation in Costa Rica ranges from basic backpacker hostels for less than $10 a night to luxury 5* hotels from around $100 a night to all-inclusive resorts and ecolodges, where the sky is the limit as far as budget is concerned.

High season from December to April is also the dry season, where accommodation tends to be at its most expensive and it is advisable to book and confirm your accommodation well before you arrive.

Some of our clinics are able to offer free of discounted hotel accommodation, depending on the nature and amount of dental treatment you have, and this can be arranged through your booking with Dental Departures.

Is it safe?

Costa Rica is a stable country and is safe from random acts of terrorism or gang warfare.

The biggest danger most travelers will face is from pick-pockets. In common with many locations throughout the world, pickpockets tend to operate in city crowds, so be especially vigilant in San Jose.

There are inherent dangers no matter where you travel in the world and, unfortunately, there will always be opportunists ready to take advantage of anybody who seems like an easy target. It is essential to keep your wits about you and to adhere to the basic safety precautions that you would in any unfamiliar city at home. So, be careful traveling at night, flaunting valuables and be mindful of your alcohol intake which could make you vulnerable if you become too intoxicated.

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(Image by: Arvind Grover)

Is the quality of dental care in Costa Rica the same as back home?

There are many dentists throughout Costa Rica who will offer you the same good quality of care that you would receive at home. However, choosing a dentist with care is quite a tough task when you don’t know the area, let alone the country. Even with the internet, information may be sketchy at best, but inaccurate at worst. Choosing the right dentist will ultimately affect the outcome of your treatment in a positive way – choose wrongly and it may be something you will regret for the rest of your life.

At Dental Departures we take the guesswork out of finding good, quality-checked dentists in Costa Rica. We have pre-screened our dentists’ qualifications, professional memberships and experience. Along with patient reviews and useful articles, this information is listed on our website for you to browse for free, helping you make an informed choice about your dentist.

We also visit our dental clinics in Costa Rica which are at least of the same standard as clinics back home, utilising the same techniques, equipment and international protocols that dentists in the US and Canada use.

What happens if something goes wrong? Does my dental care have guarantees or warranties?

Yes – all of our dental clinics have warranties or guarantees on the work their dentists carry out, as well as any lab work, for instance on crowns, dentures etc.

Booking your appointment through Dental Departures not only ensures you receive your care through a quality-checked dentist, but also gives you extra peace of mind that should you experience any problems we will be on-hand to take care of you.

Unfortunately, no medical or dental procedures can be guaranteed 100%, but only a very tiny minority of our patients has experienced any problems.

Do I need to speak Spanish?

No. Although Spanish is the main language in Costa Rica, English is spoken widely. Our dentists all speak English very well. Many are used to treating international patients from the US and Canada, and many have also had training in the US too.

What payment methods are accepted in Costa Rica dental offices?

Cash is accepted by most dental offices – either US dollars or the Costa Rican colόn. US dollars are accepted widely throughout Costa Rica in big hotels or restaurants, but you will need Costa Rican currency for everyday transactions.

Many of our clinics will accept other payment methods including personal and traveler’s checks, as well as debit and credit cards. You will need to check with your dental office which payment methods they accept and to remember debit card payments may be subject to a small handling fee of 3-4%.

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(Image by: Arturo Sotilo)

Is my US or Canadian dental insurance accepted?

Dental clinics in Costa Rica are not usually able to bill your insurance company directly. However, you may be eligible for reimbursement when you return home if your insurance company provides for out-of-network care.

Before you book an appointment, check with your insurance company and if they will reimburse you make sure you find out what documents and forms to bring with you as your dentist in Costa Rica will need to sign the paperwork.

It is also worth bearing in mind that, although this isn’t an insurance issue, you may be eligible to claim medical expenses tax deductions for your dental treatment abroad, which could potentially save you even more money.

When is the best time to visit one of our dentists in Costa Rica?

Our dentists are open all year round and any time is a good time to visit. Although if weather conditions are important, you may want to think about the following:

Considering Costa Rica is such a small country, it has a lot of variable weather conditions. The dry season is from December to April and this is when it tends to be the busiest.

The weather is essentially tropical, but variations in climate fluctuate throughout the country due to topography and distances to the sea. The highlands tend to be cold and the cloud forest cool and misty, and even during the dry season it is moist and your hair will get wet. The Central Valley and San Jose are spring-like the year round and both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts are hot the year round.

The rainy season runs from May to November, coinciding with the hurricane season which affects most countries in this part of the world. This is when there are bargains to be had on accommodation and travel costs, and there is still plenty of good weather around despite it being the rainy season.

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(Image by: Carlescs79)

Is the country handicapped accessible?

Many of Costa Rica’s tourist draws such as the jungles, mountains, volcanoes etc. are not suitable for wheelchairs at all.

Generally Costa Rica is not particularly wheelchair friendly, even in the cities such as San Jose. Roads and sidewalks are littered with pot-holes, and the best way of getting around is by taxi.

However, that said, many of the hotels are wheelchair friendly, and if you are content not to venture too far afield you will find getting about in a resort hotel reasonably easy. Many of our dental clinics provide pick-up services and we will happily arrange for you to see one of our dentists if you let us know that you will require some assistance.

What is the downside? What should I know about visiting?

Make sure if you are setting off into the wilderness of the jungles that you are adequately prepared for your trip. If your usual daily exercise routine is non-existent don’t embark on a 15km trek on your first outing. There are lots of smaller trails aimed for beginners.

Additionally, always carry plenty of water, maps, food and a compass. If is generally a good idea to let someone know the area you are going to, so in the event of you getting lost the search can be narrowed down.

What else is there in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s status as an ecotourism destination is assured with its national parks and UNESCO Word Heritage Sites, including La Amistad National Park, Talamanca, the Cocos Island National Park and Area de Concervacion Guanacaste.

Mountaintop gateway towns such as Monteverde and Santa Elena have an artistic vibe about them with cool galleries and interesting tourist shops. These towns are also the starting points for trekking and hiking expeditions, white-water rafting and canopy tours of the rainforest, either on foot or on ski-lift style rides through the tree-tops.

There are plenty of swimming and snorkeling opportunities on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and beach bunnies won’t be disappointed with miles of sandy beaches at Punta Uva, Puerto Limon, Talamanca and Montezuma, to name but a few. Scuba diving is best in Playa del Coco.

San Jose is full of museums, galleries and shopping, and offers slightly more sedate downtime than other high-octane pursuits to be found elsewhere in Costa Rica. As does a trip to Sarchi, nestled amid coffee-covered hillsides and home to over 200 artisan workshops.

A trip to Volcan Arenal is particularly impressive at night, when constant eruptions of red-hot lava can be seen in the darkness. On the flanks of Arenal, La Fortuna is a friendly town providing lots of activities including hot springs, waterfalls, bungee-jumping, horse-riding and canyoning.

As if there isn’t enough to do, you are never far away from a championship golf-course, if something a little more sedate is what you have in mind.

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(Image by: ryankozie)

Travelling to Costa Rica

The majority of people arrive by air at Aeorpuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria (SJO), just northwest of San Jose, which is pretty much located in the middle of the country. Increasingly, there are more flights now landing in Liberia to the northwest of the country at Aueropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quiros (LIR), especially from the US and Canada.

Travelling around Costa Rica

Driving:

Driving in Costa Rica is relatively safe, but it may take you a few days to get used the rules of the road. Your driver’s license from home is usually valid for up to 90 days. Most car rental agencies are located in San Jose, and while driving throughout the rest of Costa Rica is reasonably pleasant, San Jose is overcrowded and finding somewhere to park near impossible.

Buses:

Local buses are cheap, frequent and will take you to just about anywhere – the longest journey out of San Jose costing no more than $15.

Shuttle Buses:

Also known as the Gringo Buses, these run to the most popular tourist destinations and will pick you up at your hotel. Reservations can be made online or through your hotel concierge.

Taxi:

In San Jose the taxis have meters, even though many drivers don’t use them. Outside of San Jose taxis are not metered and you will have to negotiate a price upfront.

Tourist Visas

Nationals of the United States, Canada, the UK and most Western European countries are permitted to stay for up to 90 days with no visa. Australian and New Zealand nationals are allowed to stay for 30 days with no visa.

Distances and Flying times from other countries

New York, 2214 miles, 4.5 hours

Los Angeles, 2728 miles, 5.5 hours

Montreal, 2536, 5 hours

Sydney, 8580, 17 hours

Auckland, 7242, 14.5 hours

London, 5423, 11 hours

How do I book? 

Call our Toll-Free number of book online for your dentist in Costa Rica. Know-before-you-guy and use our website to find your dentist, read patient reviews and view clinics with virtual tours and high resolution photos. Get high-quality dental care at low prices - book with Dental Departures.

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This article is meant for information purposes only and is not intended to be dental advice or instructions for dental diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your dentist or a qualified dental professional before starting or changing dental treatment.

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