Smile! Dental Work in Colombia

Celebrating in Santa Marta

Celebrating in Santa Marta with Dr. Barrios

Why Dental Work in Colombia?

Admittedly, we have been known to neglect preventive care due to the high cost of health care in the US. Though we’re both covered by health insurance now, there have been long stretches when one or both of us were uninsured. Even with our current coverage, dental care is not included. When I was traveling to Venezuela on a semi-regular basis, I visited the dentist there. I found Doctora Marieugenia through a friend, and she was great. In addition to having a clean, modern practice, her prices were a small fraction of what they’d be at home. She was also always in need of US dollars. She said it helped her save. That meant a good exchange rate for me, making prices even better.

Since the recent political/economic situation in Venezuela has made this a challenging destination, we got to thinking about other options. Some recommend Costa Rica as a good choice for dental work, but prices didn’t look all that different from home. Then it hit us. We had wanted to visit Colombia for a long time, and we happened to know a dentist there! Fifteen years ago, a young Colombian high school student came to stay with Donny’s Dad and step-Mom in Atlanta. Now, that young man, Dr. Camilo Barrios, has his own practice in the city of Bucaramanga. Dental work in Colombia was the answer.

All smiles after Dr Javier Jimenez worked his magic.

All smiles after Dr Javier Jimenez worked his magic

Painless Root Canal on the Cheap

After landing in Colombia, we spent a week or so making our way from Bogota through the mountains to Bucaramanga. When we arrived in Bucaramanga, we head directly from the bus station to the well-known hotel Dann Carleton in the city center. Camilo’s office is just a couple of blocks away. With our backpacks in the corner, we took turns in the chair for an initial consultation. Donny’s situation required immediate attention, including a quick-snip gum surgery to pave the way. It was quickly determined that we both needed a root canal, so a couple of strings were pulled and after a quick bite to eat we head directly over to the endodontist’s office nearby.  Dr. Javier Jimenez’ office is bright, clean and modern, and we were seen right away. My procedure was more complicated, involving a tooth further back with three roots, while Donny’s involved only two. All said and done, we were in and out in a couple of hours, and paid a couple hundred dollars each rather than the $1500 or so we would have paid at home. Oh, and one other thing: Dr. Jimenez delivered on his promise of a pain-free root canal. I seriously had no pain whatsoever. Amazing.

Teeth whitening, why not?

Teeth whitening, why not?


Back with Dr. Barrios, an impression was taken for the partial crown that would be ordered and delivered the next day. Partially because we were short on time, we opted for a procedure to preserve some of the natural tooth and build around it rather than do a full crown. That procedure was accomplished, followed by cleaning and whitening over the next day or two. Even if we hadn’t received a generous friends and family discount, our cost would have been just a fraction of what it would be in the US. We also really appreciated how fast we could get in to see the dentists involved, and how quickly and easily the work was done. Even including the cost of our roundtrip airfares to Colombia ($350 each on Spirit), our cost was less than doing the work at home. Plus we got to include vacation!

As an extra thank you, we invited Camilo to the beach with us for the weekend. We all head out on the overnight bus for a few days of relaxation and good company on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

About the author

Tamara and Donny have wandered together since 2004, with no cure for their insatiable wanderlust. They write about discovering new destinations including beautiful photography, plus budget travel tips and how to give back through travel.