Dentistry in Ecuador:  Getting to the Root of the Problem

by Linda McFarlin

I was not looking forward to having dentistry in Ecuador, since I usually equate a trip to the dentist with a trip to hell.  However, when someone recommended a dentist in Ibarra, I went, because the problem I was experiencing with my teeth out-weighed my concern.

About a year ago, Gary and I both had root canals done by a dentist who was recommended to us. He had a clean office and up-to-date equipment, including a laser.  Although his manner was friendly and we liked him, it became apparent that his training was deficient in some areas.

After repeated visits (I had my root canal done over twice more) Gary and I both had recurring problems—infections, pain, swelling.  We decided it was time to find another dentist. 

A good friend directed us to Dr. Bayardo Bolaños, whose office in Ibarra is about 45 minutes from Cotacachi.  We were immediately impressed by the professional appearance of the office, the friendliness of his staff and Dr. Bolaños' warm welcome.  He speaks English quite well and took great care to answer all of our questions. 

Training and Education is Ongoing

It is obvious from the number of framed degrees on the walls of his office that Dr. Bolaños believes firmly in education.  He has degrees from the University of Quito, advanced training in Cosmetic Dentistry with a three-year post-graduate degree, a non-residence course, from New York University, and advanced training in implant surgery from Lima, Peru.

He also has certified training in orthodontics and advanced instructions in implant surgery in Brazil. He has had three years of training in Quito for brace work.

All of Bolaños’ staff receive additional training annually outside of Ecuador.

  Upper and lower braces for a child cost $1,800 for a complete set and all the adjustments needed for the duration of the program.

Dr. Bolaños explained that he has done 40 or 50 implants in the past year. There were only problems with two of them and that was because the patients smoked.  

Implants cost around $1,000 each, including zirconia crowns. Gary has had four implants.

At the bottom of this page you'll find a form to fill out in order to have Dr. Bolaños or his staff contact you directly.  He will answer your questions about dentistry in Ecuador.

Very Clean and State-of-the-Art

Cleanliness is obviously important.  All the staff wear gloves and masks and there are special containers for any tissue or blood his workers come into contact with. Dr. Bolaños even has ozone dispensers in the ceiling over each dental chair that clean and disinfect the air.

Dentistry in Ecuador is different than in the U.S. Bolaños takes a longer time doing dental work because he prefers a time of recuperation between each step.  He applies oral medication to the tooth and sends you home for a day or two so that additional healing can take place.

Dr. Bolaños prides himself on his state-of-the-art dental equipment, much of it new and some of it rather unique.  He has a Halimeter that measures the level of sulphur in your breath to gauge the severity of halitosis.  Following the diagnosis, he can prescribe a solution.    

On the day we were last there, the workmen were installing a brand new steam autoclave for sterilizing his dental equipment.  

Dr. Bolaños is doing his best to improve dentistry in Ecuador. 

I had a new state-of-the-art zirconia crown installed over my root canal.  Zirconia is the latest in crown material.  It is completely non-metallic, extremely hard and resistant to wear and corrosion.  The zirconia crowns are made in Quito with a special oven that costs $85,000.  

Gary used to sell industrial ceramics for Kyocera.  He says that zirconia is one of the hardest, most durable ceramics made and it is completely non-toxic. 

Bolaños’ x-ray equipment was purchased from the states.  Even though it uses low radiation, he also uses a lead vest to protect from even the minimum amount of radiation.  

Dentistry in Ecuador is controlled and x-ray machines are tested by the National Institute of Radiation in Ecuador.  They check his machines with a meter twice a year.  They can revoke a dentist’s license or impose a penalty if the machine isn’t calibrated properly or the x-ray equipment is faulty.

Dr. Bolaños has Qualified and Pleasant Dental Assistants  

One other dentist, Zulema Zurita, works with Dr. Bolaños.  She is a specialist in children’s dentistry and prosthetics.  She has post-graduate degree training in Quito in aesthetics and prosthetics.  

A Canadian friend of ours had work done that cost $5,000 here.   It sounded expensive until he told us that he received a $13,000 quotation in Canada seven years ago for the same work!  Needless to say, he was delighted with the price as well as the quality.  

Consider a Dental Vacation

Dentistry in Ecuador is so reasonably priced.  Have your dental work done in Ecuador while you are on vacation and save the price of the trip!  You can generally figure that costs will be between one-quarter and one-third the cost of similar work in the states. 

The last time I had dental work in the U.S., I thought I was going to have to mortgage my house or sell my car. This time, I was smiling when we paid the bill. 

Gary and I both had our root canals re-done.  In addition, I had a zirconia crown, a complete cleaning and a teeth whitening.  

Gary had oral surgery to go along with his root canal, (Dr. Bolaños managed to save the crown that was already on the tooth) a broken tooth rebuilt, fillings on four teeth that had toothbrush abrasion around the gums, a cleaning and teeth whitening.  Total cost for the two of us--$946.  

From Yellow Fangs to White Pearls

I had never considered having my teeth whitened, but after examining mine thoroughly and comparing the color to a tooth chart, it became clear that mine fit the yellow fang category.  Obviously, some cosmetic work was needed.  Gary’s teeth were more yellow than mine, so we decided to lighten up together.

Dr. Bolaños uses an advanced tooth-whitening system, made in the U.S. by the 3M Company in St. Paul, Minnesota.  All materials he uses are approved by the FDA.  

A small, dainty dark-skinned young woman with soulful deep brown eyes performed my teeth whitening procedure.  She has worked for Dr. Bolaños for five years. 

The others in the office teasingly call her Mary Jane, Lolita or “The Contessa.”  Her real name is Maria Dolores and her touch is as dainty as she is. She was extremely solicitous.

Even so, when she inserted a bright blue cheek retractor into my mouth, it felt like being fitted with a kitchen sink.  She added cotton pads and the “saliva sucker” and went to work.

Both Gary and I were very pleased with the outcome of our teeth whitening.  Except for a little sensitivity for a few hours immediately after, there were no side effects.  If your teeth are sensitive, the dentist will coat them with a protective cover that hardens and then can easily be removed later.

The procedure took longer than was recommended for both of us.  Keeping my mouth open for so long was uncomfortable.

The Best Teeth Cleaning Ever

Gary says that the teeth cleaning the dental staff gave him was the best, most thorough he has ever had.  A friend of ours, who has lived here for many years, reported the same.  She raves about the dental care she receives here.  She said her cleaning was comparable to excellent ones she has had in the U.S.

A picture on the bulletin board from a happy customer

Dentistry in Ecuador is Almost Fun

Dr. Bolaños’ office is very cheerful.  He is extremely personable, always greeting his patients by name and giving them a hug, a kiss or a pat on the back.  He laughs and jokes with his staff, who obviously enjoy working with him.  

He does his best to make your visit as comfortable, painless and entertaining as possible.  His extensive music collection has everything from local favorites like Besa Me Mucho to Country and Western, Rock 'N Roll, Cuban and Salsa.  One CD, Shakira’s, “Oral Fixation,” seemed especially appropriate!

Television visors are available if you are in the dental chair for long periods of time.  There’s an oral video camera so you can see your teeth being worked on.  

Overall, Dr. Bolaños and his staff make the sometimes unpleasant aspects of dental care more palatable (pun intended).  After our own personal experience, and that of several friends, we feel we can highly recommend dentistry in Ecuador and Dr. Bolaños in particular to our readers.   If you want to arrange an appointment, please fill out the form below.  Dr. Bolaños' staff will contact you directly.  

Dentistry in Ecuador provides a great bargain for North American visitors and residents.  

Dr Bolanos Contact Form

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