Culture

How to Save Money on Dental Work and Travel the World -- at the Same Time!

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For years I was fortunate. A wonderful dentist, realizing our family’s budget constraints and the fact that we had no dental insurance, treated me and my son for almost nothing. Our yearly cleanings were done at a local dental hygiene vocational school. However, when the dentist retired, I was rudely awakened to the high cost of dental work.

A tooth broke on a dental bridge I’d had for years. Now, I would either need a new bridge or dental implants. I decided on the implants, but was horrified at their expense. I’d heard about people going overseas for medical work so I decided to see if I could go to Israel for my implants.

I found a company called Tour and Smile in Israel, founded by American-Israeli Mik Lasry. I sent him my dental records and received from him an itemized list of costs in dollars, broken down to specifics. The quotation was strictly adhered to, even a year later when I finally showed up in Israel to have the work done.

Though Lasry lived in Jerusalem, he picked me up in a suburb of Tel Aviv and took me to all my appointments with the oral surgeon there. Lasry waited while I had my procedures and then took me back to where I was staying. He told me he does this for every one of the patients he works with, and in some cases he even meets patients at the airport.

Lasry said he was available anytime to answer all of his customer’s questions. I found that he was very well versed in dental knowledge, and when he couldn’t answer my questions, he contacted the surgeon for me. He was very warm and gave me his personal attention. Since Lasry himself had implants done by the oral surgeon he recommends for all his customers, he is able to empathize with patients in a similar predicament. The surgeon, a world expert in implantology who lectures on the subject, spoke impeccable English — so there was no language barrier.

Next Page: But is the care just as good, despite the cheaper cost?

In Israel, not only was the cost less but the oral surgeon used state-of-the-art Israeli-made implants for a same day “instant loading” process. I had found that in my home city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, getting implants was a very time-consuming process. Several people who had gone through the procedure had told of months with gaps in their mouths, waiting for implants after their teeth had already been extracted.

My broken tooth had been extracted, and in the same sitting my implants were put in. Temporary hard plastic crowns were secured to my implants and after 24 hours I was able to eat anything. After six months I was told that permanent porcelain crowns could be installed, and my temporary crowns could be used for up to a year before the permanent ones would be attached.

I was told to return to the oral surgeon a week after the implants were inserted, for a checkup by the surgeon to see if everything was okay. I used that week to go to Jerusalem, stay on a kibbutz at the edge of the city, and tour my heart out. It was a wonderful way to get dental care.

The icing on the cake is that not only can I put the cost of the dental work itself on my tax forms, but according to my tax preparer, I can also deduct part of the fare to Israel for the dental work as well.

Now I’m getting ready for the next trip to take care of the crowns. I’m all set to Tour and Smile in Israel.