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Tooth Tourism in the News

Michigan man saves $19,000 on dental work in El Salvador

When David Armstrong received the estimate for his dental work, he couldn’t believe it. He needed 29 crowns and a root canal, but wasn’t expecting a bill for $35,000.

“When I picked myself up off the floor, I decided to get a second opinion,” says the resident of Manchester, MI. The next quote was for $25,000, so he decided to look further. That led him to Tooth Tourism, a company that arranges dental work in other countries. Armstrong sent his dental X-rays and treatment plan to the company but did not include the prices. He received two quotes for the dental work, one in India for $6,500, and one in El Salvador for $12,000.

Most Americans have heard about traveling to India to save money on medical procedures. But they might be surprised to hear that tiny El Salvador, with its history of a bloody civil war, is getting in on the act.

“You can’t help but notice the security precautions in El Salvador,” says Armstrong, a clinical psychologist who moved to the US from New Zealand in 1970. “I was surprised to see all the security guards with shotguns there. But when I first moved to the US there was a shock and adjustment because I was not used to seeing policemen with guns. It helps to put it in context. At no time did we feel unsafe. We took the precaution of not going out at night.”

“The dentist we work with in El Salvador is an American Board certified prosthodontist who practiced near Dallas for 14 years and taught dentistry in the US for 12 years," says Tooth Tourism communications manager, Alan Flowers. "For someone like Mr. Armstrong who needed 29 crowns, you just can’t get a better qualified dental specialist.”

Tooth Tourism created an intinerary and helped with most of the hotel and tour guide arrangements. Armstrong booked his own airfare, and did not pay for any dental services until he met the dentist.

Armstrong took his wife on the trip and they diverted to Los Angeles to see their son just before Christmas. From Los Angeles they traveled on to El Salvador where they stayed for two weeks. Their living arrangements consisted of a modest oceanfront cabin and a room at the Radisson Hotel in the capital, San Salvador. They even did some sightseeing.

Adding airfare for two people plus two weeks of mostly vacation, Armstrong still saved about $19,000 US dollars. “The schedule worked out wonderfully. It meant I only lost about 5 working days, which is important.”

“You can’t help but notice the security precautions in El Salvador,” says Armstrong, a clinical psychologist who moved to the US from New Zealand in 1970. “I was surprised to see all the security guards with guns there. But when I first moved to the US there was a shock and adjustment because I was not used to seeing policemen with guns. It helps to put it in context. At no time did we feel unsafe, we just took the precaution of not going out at night.”

El Salvador’s tourism options are limited by American standards, but a 4-star all inclusive resort opened about three years ago. US AID helps fund projects to help El Salvador’s economy, and the local Salvadoran representatives decided medical and dental tourism could work. “El Salvador had more than 1 million tourists last year” says Gerardo Tablas, assistant director of US Aid in El Salvador. “We want all Americans to come visit and see how friendly our people are and what a beautiful country we have, and to have high quality medical and dental care for much less.”

So now that the Armstrongs are back home, what about the dental care? "He was very attentive to us and very prompt. I think he did an excellent job. The teeth look natural and they feel like my own teeth." says Armstrong. His wife adds, "He looks great."

Armstrong’s wife had been told by a different US dentist that she needed several crowns. But the dentist in El Salvador said she didn’t need any. “That’s what I so much appreciate about the Salvadoran dentist, he’s a true professional,” says Armstrong. “I sometimes have the feeling that most US medical professionals are more concerned about the ‘ca-ching’ of the cash register, rather than what’s needed.”

Speaking of cash, Armstrong saved enough to buy a new car. What will he do with the money he saved? He laughs. “At my age I’m totally focused on retirement savings,” he says. “We don’t want to spend money we don’t have in order to get good medical care.”

 

Watch An Interview with David Armstrong.

To schedule an interview with David Armstrong, and for more information, contact:
ToothTourism.com
1-877-787-5853
smiles@toothtourism.com