The dental care in Nicaragua is sometimes lacking and sometimes, it is really good. There are dentists who have studied here who have graduated here from smaller schools that do not have the means to teach amazing new concepts or vanguard theories or just being up to date on normal dental practices and techniques. These dentists were sort of left behind. You have to think that most of these dentists who are kind of left behind went to public schools during the time that Nicaragua was in really bad shape where there wasn’t food and there wasn’t a lot of information coming in and when they were really communist. They still work but they are not the dentist that you would think you would go to because they are not really up to date with the bio security and making sure that everything is nice and clean, which is something that anybody could determine from the moment you walk into a clinic.
Then there are other dental offices that are amazing. They are complete state-of-the-art and are completely up to date. These dentists would be those who have graduated from NYU, USC, or from Miami and just decided to come back to Nicaragua because they don’t want to live in the States. They have really great dental offices and they will charge you accordingly to their offices and according to their knowledge but it will always be much cheaper than the States.
From my experience of being a dentist here, I would say that the dentists here are more about quality than quantity. The reason why I say that is because, in the States, I know that it is more about production, in which dental practices are more concerned about producing patients, getting them out there, crunching out numbers, and making money. In Nicaragua, it is more about the quality of health care. It is more about how we can help our patients be nice and calm and happy and have that great experience. We know all about our patients. We know about their families. We know why they moved here or why they didn’t move here. We know where they live, their birthdays, and everything about them. It’s more like a mom and pop feel. It all really depends on what you are looking for as a person, too, so you have to find a dental clinic that is a fit for you.
In my dental office, we have tried our best for you to get that feeling of being in a dental chair in South Pasadena, where I come from, with that amazing customer care, and where people are attentive to you and checking how you feel and if you’re okay. We are focused on pain management so our patients never feel pain. We comply with the standards of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) for the biosecurity. We take extreme care to make sure that everything is immaculate.
I have seen other dental offices here in Nicaragua that are from my friends and from people that I have graduated with or other people that I have just met and everyone is different but that is because they were not exposed to what it is like to be in an office in South Pasadena for so many years. They have probably seen or visited another friend so they have this concept and what we have been taught but it is not the same. As far as my dental office is concerned, we try to keep it as US friendly as we can because that is how we are comfortable and that is what we are used to, so it is easier for us to do that. You could expect the same quality of care and practice in my dental office here in Nicaragua as you would experience in a dental office in South Pasadena. That’s a fact.
Relative to costs, an endodontist in the US would charge you anywhere from US $2,000 to $3,000 for a root canal for a premolar, which is a normal bicuspid tooth. You can get the same done here in Nicaragua for $250 to $300. A cleaning in my office is priced at $25 if you are a good patient who only has minor gingivitis and you have been on point with taking care of your cleanings every three to six months. If you have awesome brushing skills or maybe even mediocre brushing skills and you floss, I’ll charge you $25 for a cleaning. In the States, you would pay about $88 for a cleaning done by a dental hygienist. In my office, I am the one doing the cleaning. I am a dentist, and the charge is only $25.
The cost for a crown in my office in Nicaragua ranges from $400 all the way down to $250 depending on whether you are getting a full zirconium crown, free of metal, or if it is porcelain metal. $400 would be the maximum and the cost range that I just mentioned includes the labor.
I know my office is not considered a very pricey office and I know a lot of other dentists here that are amazing, but they are expensive. They charge accordingly because they are really good. It is hard to tell somebody when they are really good at something that they shouldn’t charge what they charge because they put a lot of work into being that good. We, in my office, do not want to do that. We want to keep ourselves at an intermediate price so that people who do not have the opportunity that the extremely rich here have, can have really good quality dental care at a more obtainable price for them. It is very important for me to do that. It is also important for me that other people that come from other places feel like they can save a couple of bucks as well. It is fine by me and it doesn’t bother me.
We also have this great sense of social responsibility where we donate some of our time on Saturdays and we work pro bono with people who obviously have no means of affording dental healthcare. This is something that is very important for us in my office. It is a big part of our philosophy. We are more in it because we want to serve the community and not because we want to be insanely lucrative. We are lucrative in spirit.
(Dr. Marissa Gabriel Lolk in her dental office, Managua, Nicaragua, pictured.)