Russian Goldilocks Goes to the Dentist: Medical Tourism in Bogota

My coworkers heard I was looking for a dentist(1), and brought me to three. They didn’t just give me the number for their dentists, but called and scheduled an appointment for me, accompanied me there, asked about the price (2) before I could.

The first one talked at length about his appreciation for public health (3), his client who works for an important organization, offered to pass along my CV. I was diagnosed with 9 cavities and quoted $2,800,000 COL (about $1,400 USD). I left with free toothpaste and qualms about the cost of medical tourism.

I can has freedom from cavities?

The second one didn’t use gloves, was rushed, and decidedly against electric toothbrushes. “I say, bring it on vacation so people can hear you using it and think, wow, she has an electric toothbrush.” Two cavities were diagnosed at $200,000 COL (about $100 USD) for fillings.

Я испугалась.

The third one was a Russophile, named every friend who had studied in Russia, told me every Russian word he knew. Turns out I brush my teeth all wrong. Now I have to brush down from my gums on the top teeth and up from my gums on the bottom teeth, so my gums stop receding. Stick around, gums! Two cavities were diagnosed, and it’d cost $260,000 COL (about $130 USD) to fix ’em. I got a new toothbrush and toothpaste to take home.

All three dentists handed me a little mirror to see each cavity as they poked around my mouth. Felt less like highway robbery that way.


(1) I haven’t been to the dentist in about 2 years, due to bureaucratic headaches. I’ve had teeth drilled without anesthesia, chipped my front tooth while biting a swimming poll and had a crown fall out while eating breakfast. Genes and a love of sweets is to blame, though for someone with such “bad teeth” I take good care of my pearly whites. Getting an electric toothbrush for Christmas last year was the highlight of the holiday.

(2) When I lived in Boston, I went to a fancy Pankey dentist, who had free toothpaste samples and the latest equipment (tongue cancer detector machine?). When my insurance ran out, so did she. Out of the room, in the middle of me saying, “I know I need a new crown, but I’ve used up my dental insurance allotment and can’t pay what you’re charging…”

(3) Then, I went to Tufts Dental Clinic where I had the most amazing dentist from the Midwest, with gentle hands and the bluest eyes. He used to smile so big when talking about his wife. He ‘d personally remind everyone about appointments, gave us his cell phone number. It was a sad day when he graduated and moved far away.


One thought on “Russian Goldilocks Goes to the Dentist: Medical Tourism in Bogota

  1. Pingback: Hurricane Sandy & Being Far From Home « Ksenia DV

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