Friday, December 11, 2015

Open Wide for Malta!

 Malta, the Official Home of the Senior Nomads Dentist.
I don't know anyone who actually enjoys going to the dentist. Even for that brief, squeaky-clean feeling you get after an hour of mild torture getting your teeth cleaned. But if you add the sun, the sea, ancient ruins and prices that will cause American dentists to drop their drills, getting your dental work done in Malta might just become tolerable.
Here's how we know. During a brief visit home a year ago, Michael was told he needed a dental implant. He started the extraction and bone-building process in Seattle with the idea that he would finish the work when we returned several months later. It was going to be a long and expensive ordeal.

Meanwhile, after to returning to Europe we met up with an American friend living in France who is a dear, but cantankerous fellow. He is also a bit of a tightwad. As we get older, failing body parts often come up during dinner conversation and ours turned to the high cost of dental work in America. He has his remaining pearly whites looked after in Hungary, where the prices are very reasonable. We'd just been there, so he recommended Malta since they were making headway in the Medical Tourism sector and we were headed there in the next couple of months. We discovered a long list of affordable medical and dental treatments available for a fraction of their cost in America. Joint replacement, cosmetic surgery, and every kind of dental work topped the list of offerings. Many came with luxury hotel packages to guarantee a very comfortable (and also affordable) recovery.

A medical tourism ad in Air Malta in-flight magazine. Visit their site:
Michael did some further research. Dental work done on this tiny island country in the middle of the Mediterranean was indeed affordable and upscale - no frightening backstreet practices like you'd find in a souk in Marrakesh where you can have a tooth pulled for $5.00. Michael found an Oral Surgeon trained in London who is a member of the Royal Academy of Surgeons. He had such an impressive string of letters behind his name we knew he had to be good - Dr. Joseph Xeureb, BChD (hons), (Melit), MFGDP (UK), MGDS RCS (Eng), FFGDP (UK) FICD. Who knows what it all meant, but we were in! And now, after three trips to Malta we fondly call him "Dr. X".

The dashing "Dr. X"
He runs two state-of-the-art-clinics under the name Savina Clinic Dental and Implantology Centres - one in Malta across the street from the airport arrivals hall (that gives you a hint about medical tourism in Malta), and the other on the picturesque island of Gozo, a lovely half- hour ferry boat ride away. Michael spent time in both - once in February, and again, six week later in April. Luckily we love this sunny island so there was no additional pain in having to go there twice. In the end Michael came away with a shiny new tooth, and several thousands of dollars remained in our checking account.

Round III. On our way to the clinic on Gozo to get our crowns fitted.
We were home in Seattle for a few weeks in October and dutifully went to our regular dentist. After a cleaning and updated x-rays for both of us we wrote a check for $500. We also left with individual "Dental Work Plans" for three crowns and a few fillings between us. Total estimate of $5,000 for work that would take several visits over several weeks. We fired off the estimate with the prices blocked to Dr. X and he came came back with an estimate of approximately $1,500 with an timeline of a ten days from start to finish. Dr. X is our new dentist for life no matter where we settle down.

Michael being well taken care of in the Malta clinic by the airport
Our Senior Nomads plans included spending most of November in Paris, partially to participate as speakers at the 2016 Airbnb Open, and then to spend time with our family in Paris that would include Thanksgiving. So we booked our third trip to Malta at the end of the month and created our own "Dental Retreat". Sort of like a "Yoga Retreat" except most of our time was spent in the reclining position. Here's a link to our airbnb:

Debbie sporting the after-effects of Novocaine and a "happy pill" ...  my smile returned when we got our bill!
It was intense! But we got our entire list of work done. It was almost pain-free, the dentists were gentle, friendly and supportive, and the staff was very helpful and accommodating. In fact, Dr. X wasn't sure we needed all of the work our Seattle dentist suggested, and presented some alternative solutions that saved even more money. Plus we enjoyed the benefits of spending more time in this unique part of the world surrounded by history and beauty and plenty of sunny weather. Perhaps my future career should include promoting this island of medical merriment.

One of many Maltese locations to recover from your day at the dentist.
While we were there, Queen Elizabeth and the leaders of all the Commonwealth nations (Malta being one of them) arrived for a major conference. Or to get their teeth worked on. Who knows?

Perhaps her Royal Majesty allowed time for a quick touch up to her smile.
Thanks for following along,

Debbie and Michael
The Senior Nomads