Visiting a Dentista in Antigua, Guatemala, February 21, 2018

Choosing a dentist: someone who is going to touch your mouth, give you a needle and hopefully make it so you never knew you had a problem with your teeth is difficult, especially in a poorer country like Guatemala.  Last year, I had a crown done in Managua.  Luckily, friends knew of David Ortiz, so there was no research to do.  Show up, open your mouth and pay the bill.  David trained in the U.S. and worked for 25 years in Las Vegas.  His office was like one in Canada - clean and bright with state of the art equipment.  My crown and cleaning cost $400 US.  

Zip ahead a year and another tooth has collapsed.  I asked Marta who she saw and well, apparently most Guatemalans don't go to dentists because they are too expensive.  Marta has a full mouth of teeth and is therefore not a typical Guatemalan.  She suggested La Cruz but warned me that he was very caro.  I emailed him and had a response almost immediately - $400 US for a crown.  I asked at school and Sheny gave me two names from other students.  I found both offices and was told in one that a crown costs 2000Q ( $346 Can) and the other place said it depended on what color you wanted - I'm thinking blue? green? red?  What I think she meant was white to match your teeth or silver or gold.  White cost 900Q or $156 Can.  That sounded too good to be true.  I emailed Erin at Common Hope to say I wouldn't be in to 'work' this afternoon because I needed to see a dentista and she recommended Dr. Ovalle who is whom I finally saw.  

His office didn't open until 3 so I wandered until then: bought some wine - Marta loves a glass of wine with supper!, bought my transportation to Xela and San Cristobal, paid for my next week of classes and changed some US money.  ATMs are generally a rip off; charging close to $20 Can just to use the machine.  I'm glad I still have some US cash along.  I also stopped in at another dentist's office.  It was rubby and there were 2 women waiting - a Mom and daughter.  The Mom had few teeth, probably pulled by this dentist.  They went in first and after a few minutes of looking around the bright pink waiting room and wondering where all the patients were, I left.    

Dr Ovalle's office is bright and clean and very busy.  Eventually I was in a chair in what appeared to be his office.  He was sitting at a desk with a computer.  When I entered the room, he hopped right up, introduced himself and I explained my problem.  WITHOUT gloves, he opened my mouth and poked around.  He then took a picture of my tooth and showed me that I had not only a partially disintegrated tooth but also a little black hole - 2 cavities.  He believed he could fill the cavities and that a crown was not required.  Make my day Dr. Ovalle!  He put some kind of paste on the spot on my gum where he was going to insert the needle.  5 minutes later I was watching the Olympics and waiting for the freezing to kick in.  Now he put on gloves and drilled and puttied and drilled some more.  He followed the same procedure as home, using a light to harden the filling and then the blue paper th check for high spots. 

I have another appointment on Saturday for my check up and cleaning.  My total bill is $111 Can.  As the freezing is coming out, my teeth feel as good as new - no high spots and no rough spots.  I'm pleased.  

Looking forward to tomorrow - beautiful sunshine, a slight breeze and pleasant temperatures.

P.S. Nico's first skate-


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