If you’ve heard stories of dental treatment abroad and are wondering if Costa Rica is the right place for high-quality dental care, you are not alone. Dental tourism is one of the most popular types of medical tourism in Costa Rica, with more and more visitors choosing to combine a holiday in paradise with dental care.
*This post may contain affiliate links, as a result, we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) on any bookings/purchases you make through the links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Read our full disclosure
In the last decade, Costa Rica has become one of the top dental tourism destinations in the world and for a good reason.
We’ve been doing dental work in Costa Rica for over 8 years but have only recently noticed the rise in Costa Rica dental tourism. We can definitely see the appeal!
We can attest firsthand that dental clinics in Costa Rica offer great quality dental care at affordable prices.
Costa Rica has some of the best healthcare in Latin America, and in recent years has become a popular choice for visitors seeking to save on expensive procedures that aren’t covered by insurance in their home countries, like certain dental procedures or cosmetic surgery.
In this blog post, we wanted to share our insights into why Costa Rica has become one of the leading destinations for affordable and high-quality dental services and shed some light on what you can expect from Costa Rica dental tourism.
Traveling Soon? Here is a list of our favourite travel providers and accessories to help get you ready for your upcoming trip!
An Overview of Dental Tourism in Costa Rica + FAQs
Costa Rica offers a great combination of affordable dental care and high-quality services. The country boasts highly trained dentists, high-end equipment and modern top dental clinics dotted all around the country.
It’s a great place to combine an amazing vacation with access to top-notch dental treatments.
We know you have many questions, so let us first cover the most common ones.
Why is Dental Care More Affordable in Costa Rica?
The cost of a dental procedure in Costa Rica is often half or less of what you would expect to pay for treatments in other countries. This is due to lower operating costs, lower salaries for dentists and staff, and the country’s commitment to providing high-quality healthcare services at an affordable price.
Is Dental Care in Costa Rica high quality?
Dental care providers in Costa Rica are highly trained experts, with many graduating from international universities and having years of experience in the latest technology and procedures.
Many dental clinics are accredited by international organizations such as the American Dental Association and offer a wide range of services, including general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, and dental implants.
How well-trained are Costa Rica dentists?
Dentists in Costa Rica are held to high standards and expected to keep up with industry standards and technology. All qualified dentists have at least 6 years of dental training, plus another 2 to 3 years of training for specialties.
Before choosing a Costa Rica dentist for your dental treatment, you can contact them to find out if they have had recent training or continued education. A lot of dentists in Costa Rica have websites with this information readily avaialble. Many also provide certificates of completion.
How much is it to get your teeth done in Costa Rica?
Getting your teeth done in Costa Rica is much more affordable than in North America and Europe. Most dental work can be as much as 50-75% cheaper, depending on the procedure and complexity.
Common dental work like fillings, cleanings, and simple extractions can cost anywhere from $50-100 USD.
More complex restorative procedures, such as dental crowns, usually range from $400-$650 USD and a mouth reconstruction typically costs $18,000 to $25,000. Additionally, many dentists in Costa Rica offer packages for multiple treatments to make it even more economical.
Is dental work cheaper in Mexico or Costa Rica?
Generally speaking, dental work is cheaper in Mexico compared to Costa Rica. On average, getting your teeth done in Mexico could cost anywhere from 25-50% less than getting it done in Costa Rica.
However, standards of dental care and quality can vary significantly in Mexico. While it is possible to find great dentists in Mexico, it’s not something we have experienced firsthand and thus can not offer much advice, one way or another.
Is Costa Rica safe for dental tourism?
With highly skilled dentists and modern equipment, Costa Rica offers safe and affordable dental care. So in terms of the safety of dental care, Costa Rica passes the test.
In terms of safety in Costa Rica in general, we tend to say YES. Costa Rica is one of the safest Latin American countries, so overall, it is a safe destination for dental tourists. The country has a relatively low crime rate and no political tensions that could lead to dangerous situations for visitors.
It is important to note, though, that the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, has recently seen an increase in violence and crime. We’ve heard that some countries, namely the US, recently issued a security warning for those traveling to San Jose.
Given the higher concentration of dental specialists in San Jose compared to other parts of the country, it is likely that you’ll visit San Jose for your procedure. But don’t fret! Crime in San Jose is limited to only certain parts of the city and is more common at night. To avoid becoming a target, just use the same common-sense precautions you would in any other crowded city.
READ NEXT: Is Costa Rica Safe to Visit?
Are there regulations for Costa Rica dentists?
In Costa Rica, all dentists are required to register with the College of Dental Surgeons of Costa Rica. Before settling on a provider, it’s a good idea to search their database for the dentist and make sure their license is valid and current.
The College of Dental Surgeons of Costa Rica also sets minimum rates for dental procedures, and unlicensed practitioners will try to undercut these rates. It might be prudent to check the minimum rates if something sounds too good to be true.
This agency can also guide you to highly regarded Costa Rica dental clinics if you don’t already have a referral from someone you trust. You can search their database for dentists by location or specialty.
Will the language barrier be a problem?
It is always a good idea to learn some of your host country’s language, but don’t worry about this being an obstacle to dental tourism in Costa Rica.
As with many other health care professionals, the majority of dentists in Costa Rica do speak English. They are accustomed to treating international patients and many of them receive training in the US. or UK.
Dental Work in Costa Rica: Our First Hand Experience
Our experience with dental work in Costa Rica began in 2014 when we started seeing a dentist in San Jose who was recommended by family. At first, we were a bit nervous about the quality of care we would receive. However, our initial experience was quite pleasant.
The office was modern and clean, and the staff was very professional and friendly. Our dentist took the time to explain every step of the procedure and was very patient with us. We had some basic dental work done, like X-rays, cleanings, and fillings.
Max then returned for a few follow-up appointments for some more serious procedures. Over the course of the year, he had 2 back teeth removed and replaced with dental implants. The whole procedure cost him about $1500 per dental implant, a significant discount to $5000+ that it would cost for this type of procedure in Canada.
A few years later, we switched our dental care provider to a clinic in Villa Real (just outside of Tamarindo). The clinic was more convenient for us to get to than our original dental clinic is San Jose and also came highly recommended by family. Max’s grandfather had mouth reconstruction done at that clinic few years prior and had a very positive experience.
Our experience at this clinic was even better. The staff was just as friendly and professional, and the office was equally clean and modern. We found the prices to be very reasonable as well.
Over the course of a few months, we got teeth cleaning for only $50 per session, fillings that cost us $50 each, and even teeth whitening was only $300. The quality of care was excellent. The dentist spoke great English, used latest technology in his clinic and was very thorough in his explanations of the procedures. Overall, a great experience!
We plan on returning to this clinic every 6 months for cleanings and for any new cavities that may need to be addressed.
Dental Treatment Prices in Costa Rica vs Other Countries
As mentioned before, dental procedures in Costa Rica are significantly cheaper than Canada or the US. Here is a quick comparison of dental care pricees in Costa Rica vs the US/Canada.
In Costa Rica, a basic dental treatment like cleaning will typically cost $50 to $80, while in the U.S. or Canada, it starts at $100 and can go up to $200.
If a filling is required, this dental procedure generally costs $50 to $60 in Costa Rica, compared to $160 to $300 in the United States.
In the United States, dental implants can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 or more per tooth, while in Costa Rica, the cost is generally between $800 to $1,500 per tooth. The cost savings are particularly evident if you need multiple dental implants like Max did.
Dental crowns in the United States can cost anywhere from $1,300 to $2,500 or more, while in Costa Rica, this dental treatment typically costs between $400 to $600.
A root canal will cost about the same, at around $400 in Costa Rica compared to $1,500 or more in the United States.
Costs for extensive restorative dentistry are also competitive. In Costa Rica, the cost for a full mouth restoration is generally between $18,000 to $25,000, compared to $40,000 to $80,000 in the United States.
The cost of porcelain veneers in Costa Rica is typically around $450 per tooth, while veneers cost up to $2,500 per tooth in the United States.
In Costa Rica, the cost of teeth whitening is generally around $300 to $400, compared to $600 to $1,500 for dental treatment in the United States.
You can also save money on dentures in Costa Rica. They generally cost $600 to $800, compared to $1,700 to $2,300 in the United States.
How to Choose the Right Clinic or Dentist
There are some factors to consider and questions to ask when choosing the right dental clinic for dental tourism in Costa Rica.
Do your research on dental clinics and dentists in Costa Rica. Look for patient reviews and testimonials from other international patients who have received treatment there. Check to make sure your chosen Costa Rica dentist is registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of Costa Rica.
Experience and qualifications
Look for dentists who have a high level of experience and qualifications. Check their credentials, education, and training. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a copy of the certification.
Consider the range of services offered by the dental clinic or dentist. Do they offer the specific treatment that you need? Are they up-to-date with the latest technology and techniques?
Communication is key when it comes to dental work. If you do not speak good Spanish, make sure the dentist and other clinic staff speak English fluently and are able to answer your questions or address concerns.
Compare prices from different dental clinics and dentists in Costa Rica, but be careful not to choose a clinic or dentist based solely on cost. Make sure you are also getting high-quality treatment and care.
Location and Facilities
Consider the location and facilities of the dental clinic. Look for a clinic that is conveniently located and has modern facilities and equipment. If you want to combine dental care in Costa Rica with a vacation, look for dentists in the region you’ll be visiting. There is no need to travel to San Jose for your dental work, as there are lots of highly rated qualified dentists spread out all across the country. (There are more of them in popular expat hubs)
Tips on Making Your Trip More Affordable and Enjoyable
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your dental tourism experience, research is key. Start by finding dentists in Costa Rica who offer the treatments you need at a price you can afford. Many offer up-front quotes, so you can see where the best value lies.
Factor travel costs into your budget but don’t forget that the cost of your dental care now also includes a vacation! If you are trying to keep expenses low, keep in mind that flights can vary in price significantly depending on time of year. Dental tourism in Costa Rica will always be cheaper in thel Green Season (May-November).
Additionally, hotel prices vary significantly. Prices will be lower outside of main tourist areas, so don’t be afraid to stay a bit off the beaten path if your primary goal is affordable dental care.
Most importantly, though, plan upfront – booking early will save both money and stress down the track and give you more time to focus on really enjoying what Costa Rica has to offer!
Dental tourism in Costa Rica offers an array of benefits for both travelers and dentists alike. Patients can find access to quality, affordable dental care and experienced dentists in a beautiful setting. While treatment is less expensive than in some other parts of the world, you should still shop around for the best prices and ask your Costa Rica dentist questions before deciding on a procedure.
To Sum Up: Is Costa Rica a good place for dental tourism?
In short, yes! Having had many dental procedures done in Costa Rica first hand, we can confidently say that the quality of dental care here lives up to its hype.
Costa Rica has many internationally trained and certified dentists who offer quality and affordable care. Costa Rican dentists are considered to be some of the best in Latin America.
The cost of dental treatments in Costa Rica is generally much lower than that of North America or Europe, yet it is still able to provide good results
And don’t forget, Costa Rica offers a vibrant culture, stunning landscapes and some of the world’s best eco-tourism destinations which is exactly why we recommend it as a dental tourism destination!