I’ve Found Jesus…and He’s Fixing My Teeth

Published 17 January 08 01:11 PM
By Suzan Haskins
Monday, Jan. 14, 2008
Merida, Mexico
Dear International Living Reader,
Going to the dentist has never been my favorite thing to do, thanks to the Little Shop of Horrors-like experiences I endured as a child in smalltown Kansas. But after our first consultation with Dr. Jesus Sanchez­, an aesthetic dentist here in Merida, my husband and I were practically giddy. The visit was not painful at all and the way we were treated was a pleasure.
Dr. Sanchez’s small, sparkling clean office, with modern, sterile equipment, is within walking distance of our home in El Centro, Merida’s historic central neighborhood. When we arrived, his assistant welcomed us warmly and gave us basic forms and medical histories to fill out…in English. Ten minutes later, our exams began.
Dr. Sanchez is in his mid 30s, very professional, and extremely polite. Both he and his assistant speak perfect English. Dan and I were there to have our teeth cleaned, and we both needed a cap. I generously insisted that Dan go first. 
Then it was my turn, and I’ll admit to being a little nervous. All anxiety faded, however, once I was in the chair. Dr. Sanchez went to work in the gentlest manner and not once did I experience any discomfort. This is more than you need to know, but my gums are very sensitive and I usually require anesthetic for teeth cleaning. But not this time.
Two hours and no pain or injections later, we were finished. We both had cleaner, brighter smiles. Dan had a new temporary cap on his front tooth and molds had been made for the cap I would receive a few days later.
I pulled out my wallet to settle up. “No, don’t worry about it,” Dr. Sanchez smiled. “You can pay us when you come back.”
And that was that. No money up front, no money as service was rendered, no money at all for our initial visit, in fact. We weren’t asked to sign anything or produce insurance documentation of any kind. The closest thing to an assessment of our ability to pay was when Dr. Sanchez’s assistant casually asked if we lived in Merida.
In Mexico, as in most of Latin America, we’ve found that professional relationships, and especially health care relationships, are still based on trust and honor. Your ability (or inability) to pay does not affect the service you receive. You cannot be turned away because of lack of insurance. In fact, in six years in Latin America we’ve never even been asked for an insurance card.
Two days later we returned to Dr. Sanchez’s office for my temporary cap. Although I did receive anesthetic this time, the procedure was again painless. I was impressed by Dr. Sanchez’s diligence in making sure the cap fit just right. And I was equally impressed when it came time to settle the bill.
The cost for our teeth cleaning was 500 pesos each, or $45. “Pay for the caps when you come back,” he said. The cost for the caps will be 2,500 pesos. That’s about $228 at today’s exchange rate.
I’m not an expert on dental procedures or costs, and I know every case is different, but as comparison, I have a friend in Arkansas who had a complete cosmetic dental makeover, with porcelain veneers custom made for both his top and bottom teeth. His cost: $24,000. A friend in Merida had a similar procedure done by Dr. Sanchez, although he had porcelain crowns made for just eight top teeth…but he also had a root canal and one implant. His cost? $3,000 total. He says, “It has been a year and the crowns look great, have not required any maintenance and are not sensitive to hot or cold. I couldn't be more satisfied.”
Suzan Haskins
Latin America Insider, International Living
P.S. If you wish to contact Jesus Sanchez you can all him on + 52 999-924-98-95.

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