The truth is, I’ve needed some major dental work done for a long time. My teeth have slowly been deteriorating for years due to a lack of reasonable dental insurance and some poor habits when I was younger. Consequently, I have felt a good deal of shame surrounding my teeth and the way they look. My self-confidence has certainly been lower due to this situation, and I really feel like I have held myself back in social situations due to my embarrassment about my smile. It’s no fun to be constantly self-conscious about something as noticeable as the condition of your teeth and your self-image can really take a hit when you don’t feel like you look your best. Maybe you can relate.
So, a few months ago, after years of considering it, I started researching what it would take to get all of the work I needed done in a foreign country where the dentistry was modern and the prices were reasonable…unlike the states where getting the amount of work I needed done is equivalent to getting a mortgage on a Florida condo.
After extensive research (I’m a planner), I picked Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for four main reasons.
One: It’s not a border town, so crime is pretty low there and as long as you’re not walking around drunk after midnight in a sketchy area, there is very little chance that you’ll run into any trouble. In general, the people in Vallarta are very nice to tourists and are proud of how welcoming their town is. Several full-time expats I’ve talked to have backed this theory and gone on to remark about how easy and safe it is to live in Vallarta, even if you aren’t a native. If I was going to be even remotely incapacitated, physically, I wanted to make sure I was in an environment that I felt very comfortable in and Vallarta seemed like the best bet.
Two: I had vacationed there before, so I knew the general layout of the town and was familiar with where I could shop and which part of the city I wanted to stay in. This added greatly to my confidence in having this much work done abroad. It really helps to know how things operate in Mexico and what you can expect from a town before you do something major like having surgery in a country where you don’t speak the language.
Three: I knew some locals there, so I felt confident in going alone. I contacted them beforehand and they agreed to be my local emergency contacts in case something went sideways, medically speaking. They are all natives and all have impeccable english/spanish skills so I knew I could count on them to translate for me in an emergency situation. The language barrier isn’t a big deal when you’re haggling over a pair of sunglasses on the Malecon, but I did not want to be playing charades with a doctor if I felt like I was in real trouble. Having them as my back up team really put my mind at ease.
Four: The dentist I ended up choosing had incredible reviews. Not only were her skills praised in every review, but her honesty, integrity, and kindness were as well. This was important to me because, well, it’s no fun having dental work done and even less so if you feel that you aren’t being treated compassionately by the person doing the procedure. Dr. Melisa lived up to every word I had read.
All-in-all, Puerto Vallarta looked to be a good choice for me. All of my preparation and my familiarity with the town made for a smooth and easy “pre-op” experience once I touched down, and the signs were good that I had made the right decision to get my work done there.