Cosmetic surgery (plastic surgery) and dentistry in Costa Rica



Cosmetic dentistry testimonials

Costa Rica evokes thoughts of lush rainforests, active volcanoes, intense sun and great waves to surf. But not too long ago, a friend of mine told me about friends of his who had gone to Costa Rica to have their teeth fixed. My first thoughts were: are they crazy? Why would anyone go to a third world country to get their teeth fixed? Were they looking for trouble?

Then a couple of weeks after having had the conversation with my friend, I met the people who had had their teeth done. Their smiles were impeccable. I was incredulous and started asking all kinds of questions. The couple had needed major dental work and could not afford the treatment plan their dentist had suggested. They were in need of root canals, dental implants, and crowns.

The treatment they needed would cost in the vicinity of $35,000 for both of them had they had the work done with their dentist. They knew that getting the work done at home was impossible due to cost and started researching options online.

Costa Rica turned out to be an affordable option. My new friends got me thinking. I have always taken care of my teeth; six month check-ups and any needed cavities repaired and filled. I had noticed over the years however, that the color of my teeth had changed; my smile was not as bright. I had my front teeth bonded after having built up calcium deposits when I was a youth while wearing braces, so whitening my teeth was out of the question as bond-ing material cannot be bleached. I had discussed this with my dentist a while ago who told me my only option was veneers on my front teeth and whitening of the remaining teeth. Veneers at a cost of $2500 a pop, for my six front teeth and Zoom whitening for an additional $500 would bring the total to well over $15,000.

At the time I remember thinking, oh well, that’s never going to happen. Now, with the news of my friends going overseas, I started to do my homework.

My first thought was... Isn’t Costa Rica a third world country? It didn’t sound like a good idea, but I wanted to understand what my friends had found out. Costa Rica was designated third world years ago, but is now known as developing and believe me, Costa Rica is developing. The dental/medical tourism industry is booming. I had counted at least 25 dentists at first glance. I sent off an email to the five I liked the best, based on where they were trained (USA) and certified, experience and a number of other factors. One of the five dentists did not respond, one of the dentists’ coordinators responded, but his emails were discombobulated and something seemed off, so I passed.

There were several emails exchanged between myself and the three remaining dental coordinators. I felt so comfortable with Nora Allen, the coordinator for the dental clinic I eventually settle on, the choice was easy.

I picked Adult Dentistry of Costa Rica ( headed by Dr. Garita and Dr. Alvarado. Nora put me at ease, answered all the questions I had and even some I hadn’t thought of. She suggested accommodations, and when I mentioned having difficulty finding reasonable fares for the flight, she helped me with that too. Nora is American, born in NY and now living in Florida. She has been working with Dr. Garita and Dr. Alvarado for many years; first while living in Costa Rica, then continuing to work for the clinic after returning to the States for personal reasons.

I began the adventure on Monday, November 7th and returned home on Friday, November 11th. Nora had made all of the appointments for me in advance and had discussed the treatment plan with Dr. Juan (as he is affectionately known by his staff and clients). I was greeted on the Tuesday at 1:30 pm. The entire staff was kind, professional and explained everything clearly as we went along. A panoramic x-ray was taken, an exam of my teeth was preformed and I was discussing the plan with Dr. Juan in no time. It was decided that I would get four crowns on my front teeth, two veneers on my eye teeth and have the remaining teeth Zoom Whitened.

The doctor prepared an estimate, I signed it and then we got straight to the treatment. Four hours later, I had my teeth whitened, and a mold of my teeth before preparation for the crowns/veneers, were made.

I was the one who wanted to get as much done as possible in the first day, so that I could have as much down time as possible to visit the beautiful country, otherwise I could have had the initial work done in two appointments. Another appointment was made for Thursday afternoon and I was back at the hotel in about 15 minutes. The following day, Wednesday morning, I was up and enjoying a hearty breakfast at the hotel, which is included in the cost of the accommodations.

The Hotel I chose of the many suggested by Nora was Apartotel La Sabana ( The hotel and rooms were clean, the staff welcoming and English speaking. There is a pool on the premises, with lounge chairs and beach towels available for the guests. The cost of my room was $60 US a night, breakfast included. There were also kitchenette type rooms available, for $71 a night. So, if you are going to staying for a longer period of time, you can go to the grocery store on the corner of the street and prepare your own meals. I just popped to any one of the number of restaurants within a 3 or 4 minute walk. This hotel offers a discount if you mention that you are seeing Dr. Garita, as I would imagine a lot of the other hotels in the area would, so it is worth mentioning. Oh, and as an added bonus, they provide free transport from and back to the airport!

There are so many different excursions to enjoy while in Costa Rica, it was very hard to pick just one or two that I wanted to do the most. I decided to go to Jaco beach to get a bit of surfing done, and then go off to have a Rain-forest adventure, by getting into a tram for a 90 minute ride through the tree tops, where I was privileged to witness some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen in my life; rugged mountains, breathtaking waterfalls, a complex web of life that awed me. Some the countless animals I was fortunate enough to see were toucans, guans, tapirs (very funny looking animals), and my favorite, spider monkeys! After the tour, it was time for a little excitement so I took a quick zip line/canopy tour. I’ve zip lined in many countries, but nothing compared to this; I cannot adequately describe the stunning scenery.

After that it was back to the hotel for a relaxing evening. I took a short walk with a couple from Wisconsin (that was also staying at my hotel and having work done by another dentist in the area) to the RostiPollo on the corner and had a lovely chicken meal and two cervezas for $10, tax and tip included. Actually, the tip is always included when you get the bill in any restaurant there.

Thursday morning, another great start to my day with a tasty meal, a little lounging by the pool with a good book and then it was time to go back to the dentist. Once there, I spoke to Dr. Juan who showed me around the office, where I met the charming technician working in the onsite lab where my crowns and veneers were made (this is one of the reasons why the wait-time is so drastically reduced).

A little bit of tweaking here and little bit of tweaking there and two hours later, I got a chance to see my new smile. I was speechless. I never imagined that it would be such a dramatic change, but was it ever. I couldn’t stop smiling and looking at my new smile in the mirror.

Back to the hotel where I packed and prepared for the trip home the next morning.

After another breakfast where I enjoyed the sweetest pineapple I have ever eaten, the transport was at the hotel to take me to the airport by 9 am. I was back home before I knew it and am still, months later, tremendously happy with the results. And exceedingly happy with the fact that I spent a total of $4,000 which included airfare, hotel, food and taxis to and from the dental office as opposed to the $15,000 plus my dentist had quoted.

I also took the time to visit my dentist and ask his expert opinion. He thought the work was very well done and was quite impressed. I then found out my insurance company covered a good portion of the work. What more could I ask for?

So what have we learned, class? I was able to get affordable, professional dental work done; I had a fantastic mini-vacation/getaway in a magnificent interesting country, and have so much more self-confidence when I smile with my teeth (instead of a closed mouth) or laugh without my hand in front of my mouth.

Should you be contemplating dentistry in Costa Rica or any other foreign country, the number one rule is to thoroughly check the credentials of the dentist. Do not base your choice on reviews on the internet; you can’t count on them being authentic.

If you do decide to choose Adult Dentistry, contact Nora and tell her I say “hi”.


Karen Daly - as published in "The Arroyo Seco Journal", January 26, 2012

There are no words to express what I feel. The results of your work I will carry with me into my final time. Whatever that final time might bring it will be met with a big happy smile.

I feel and look like a new man. Truely a remarkable transformation. Such a natural look I never expected. Thanks to you and your support staff from the depths of my heart. I love you all....

Dave Scotten

I am writing this to tell you how grateful I am for your excellent work! You have managed to put up with all my worries and concerns and through your positive attitude, experience and talent you have answered all my hopes and expectations. Everyone here in Syracuse NY who is considering implants and other reconstructive dental work wants your name and phone #, which I am happy and confident to pass along.

Should you have anyone in need of information and support in order for them to make a decision to come to you, I shall be happy to talk to them. It has been a pleasure to deal with you and your very competent staff. Notonly have you saved me a great deal of money, you have improved my look and supported me toward a healthier lifestyle. I can chew so much better!!! Greetings to Dr.Rojas, Carolina, Adriana and the rest of the family!

Thank you so very much for your passion and commitment to this work. You are quite a gifted expert!

Best regards,
Pierre Frison
Westminster avenue Syracuse, NY 13210

Some of the people I met at Las Cumbres, as well as others at home wanted to know of my experiences in going to Costa Rica for dentistry. I have needed extensive dental work for some time but I have seen so many examples of "a mouth full of chiclets", of teeth that just didn’t suit the person, bad margins, etc. that I was having trouble searching out a dentist I felt comfortable doing the work. I finally found someone I thought was my man but the estimate was $37,000.00. When I realized it wasn’t a typo and recovered from the shock, I began to consider alternatives. I wasn’t thrilled about taking out a second mortgage so he could live a lavish lifestyle and have two children in high school both driving new SUV’s. Another dentist locally assured me he and his lab could do as good a job as anyone. We never got to the money part because in eight months he never got a satisfactory impression that he could work with and come up with a number.

Cut to Costa Rican dentistry. I was made aware of this possibility by friends in Virginia, and the magic of the internet. I knew of Dr. Mario Garita through Ron Laytner’s story in the Charlotte Observer but I contacted several others as well. For reasons too personal, lengthy, and unimportant to this story I decided on Dr. Mario as he became known, and Las Cumbres Inn (Surgery Retreat) as a place to start my in-person investigation. When we arrived at the airport we were met by Elke Arends herself, the owner/manager of Las Cumbres. It didn’t take long to realize Las Cumbres was a good decision. I had a consultation with Dr. Mario the next morning and I had interviewed enough dentists to have immediate confidence in him. All my questions and concerns were dealt with in such a way that I moved from his office to his dental chair that morning for the beginning of four, four hour days of preparation for 28 crowns.

One of the discussions I had with Mario concerned lab work because I knew the lab is key to an aesthetic crown. There are basically two types of crowns, the better ones using "noble metal". But Mario also told me of "the Italian", who, if the other labs charged $1.00 he charged $3.00 but his work was superior. However, he was more of an artist than anything, with an artist mentality, he couldn’t be rushed, and was often a pain to work with. But he was a perfectionist and his work was the best. Although Mario and I discussed length and color, I ultimately left the decisions in his hands. Mario started working on my teeth with a confidence and assurity I had not previously experienced. He seems to get in a zone and unless you let him know you need a break or to rinse etc. he is at work. I liked it, and was comfortable with it, because I do a lot under a microscope and work like that myself. A combination of confidence and concentration.

After four days of about four hours each I was sitting in Mario’s chair while he worked on my temporaries with his Dremel-like instrument. We were discussing cost and he said, "Of course money is necessary, we all need it, but this is what is fun," referring to the dental work. And there were a couple of other occasions when he was admiring his work and he said, "I love being a dentist." There were times I said – what about?, or are you sure….? , and he always smiled an enigmatic smile and his response was the same. "You are going to be so happy, you'll see", or just "you’ll see." So I came home with temporaries for two weeks to give the Italian plenty of time - no rushing him. Mario had suggested I be there over a weekend on my second visit because after he fit the metal the lab could work over the week-end and be 'more relaxed'. I arrived back on a Thursday and saw Mario on Friday morning. He tried on everything and was happy and told me to return Wednesday morning. "But Mario, I leave Wednesday. I have to be to the airport by noon."

"I have confidence in myself, and the lab. You'll see."

The folks at Los Cumbres were making book on whether I would make my flight or show up back at the Inn because one or more of the 28 crowns needed further work. I was in the chair by 9:30 and by 11:15 I was back in the reception room talking to some people from North Carolina with my 28 new crowns.. The crowns went in with such precision there is just enough space for dental floss between each one. But...don’t order yet...these are the most beautiful, natural-looking teeth anyone could ever ask for. Eat your heart out Julia Roberts. I couldn’t have done better if I had been able to grow a third set of teeth. Actually, I was blessed with wonderful teeth but years of decay, fillings, chips, grinding, and miscellaneous incidents and accidents had taken their toll. I have a picture of my sister’s wedding just before my sixteenth birthday and I had these same teeth. Had I given the Italian the photo he couldn’t have done any better. I had to remind myself I was supposed to be macho or I would have been teary eyed.

OK, so they look spectacular, but how do they feel?... and how do they work? you may ask. They feel like my teeth, and the toughest steak?’s no match. I am not sure I have ever been able to chew as well, and there are no pockets or ledges that gather food particles. After years of looking for the right dentist and patching things up this seems miraculous. Cost is usually a factor in anyone’s decision to do dental or cosmetic surgery in Costa Rica and I saved enough I didn’t need that second mortgage, but I also don’t think I could have received better quality work and a better end result anywhere at any price. Thank you Mario, and my thanks also to "the Italian".

Elke is a story unto herself as anyone knows who has spent time in her presence. I spent two weeks at Las Cumbres, and a good part of that just hanging out talking, listening, and learning (and eating). I had the honor and privilege of accompanying Elke on trips to the market, the clinics etc. and once to the computer repair shop when I foolishly thought perhaps some testosterone energy might help on her side of the negotiations. Silly boy. Elke is a most capable person, and in four languages.

I feel extremely fortunate. I made some friends, saved some money, had an adventure, and got some great teeth. Although it is embarrasing now to look at the pictures and wonder how I let them go so long.

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