I received an invitation to visit the dentist today. Nothing unusual in that maybe, since I seem to have had a rapid succession of appointments with the dentist since that unfortunate incident with a peanut and excessive turbulence on an internal flight in the Canary Islands last summer.
No, this dental appointment is different; it is an invitation to attend a celebration of ten years of the dental practice opening, which fortunately coincided with our arrival in Gran Canaria.
At that time I remember tentatively calling into a newly opened surgery in our nearest town to get some details of the dental care that was available. The surgery appeared to be brimming with the latest technology and what seemed to be high tech equipment that was far removed from the small, quaint practice that I usually attended in the UK.
I remember being impressed not only with the equipment, but a more sensible regime for appointments, routine cleaning, as well as a clear pricing structure. Indeed, the fees seemed to be about half of those that I paid in the UK.
Some years ago, I remember many friends and relatives in the UK commenting that they now had a Spanish dentist, working both in private practice, as well as filling the many gaps in the NHS dental service. Even though I was pleased for UK patients, I began to wonder if this would lead to a shortage of dentists in Spain and the Canary Islands, which did seem to be a possibility.
Due to changes in the fee structure for dentists in the UK, many dentists were leaving the National Health Service, and provided care for private patients only. This shortage of dentists tempted many newly qualified, as well as established, Spanish dentists to leave Spain in order to fill the acute gaps within the UK’s dental service.
This began to cause a problem for Spain’s own dental service, resulting in shortages of qualified dentists. This situation coincided with an excess of dentists being trained in South America, and particularly in Argentina, which had rapidly expanded its dental training programme, as well as developing new dental techniques such as dental implants, resulting in far too many dentists for the country to absorb. This was fortunate, because many newly trained dentists left South America and headed to Spain and the Canary Islands to work in established surgeries, as well as opening their own.
My own dentist is also from Argentina and until recently was one of the few dental surgeons in Spain who was sufficiently qualified to deal with dental implants. When I first knew him, he used to work for two days each week in Madrid and three days in Gran Canaria until his own practice became sufficiently well established.
Since that time, the dental surgery has grown and rapidly expanded, resulting in much larger premises, as well as a new sister surgery opening in Las Palmas. The care that we have received has been second to none, and I am grateful that I stumbled across a good dentist during those first heady days of our new life in Gran Canaria. Now that is something to celebrate and it will be so good to visit my dentist for celebratory drinks and nibbles instead of a new crown or a filling!
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his book, ‘Expat Voice’ (ISBN: 9780992767174). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle. iPhone/iPad and Android Apps: ExpatInfo, CanaryIsle and CanaryGay now available.
© Barrie Mahoney
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