Lifestyles Magazine Prague: Crowns for crowns

Supply, price, and demand can run an economy, and they can run two rows of teeth too.

Dental clinics in the Czech Republic have been filling up with foreign visitors for quite some time. That’s because anything that can be done to a feuding family of teeth will cost “several times lower” here than in other EU countries, according to information provided by Czech, a dental practice organization. And that usually includes the price of the plane ticket to get here.

Prices can drop even lower in a place like Kroméříž or Zlin, up to 50%, they claim. Not forever will dental associations here be able to emphasize that prices east of the Vltava are still significantly cheaper. But the quality of care is on par with anywhere else. The care can become so personalized and such good value that having little porcelain things cemented to your real teeth or titanium bolts permanently screwed into your jawbone has never seemed so appealing.

Czech dentists must graduate from medical school, in addition to completing their studies at dental schools. They must regularly attend lectures, and the more famous give presentations at international conferences.

That means that by the time you lie down in the examining chair entirely at their mercy, you’ll be able to worry a bit less as that inevitable drill approaches in a tiny hysterical whine, ready to dig in.

Inside the dental relaxation lounge

Dental clinics these days are multi-functional. Now they are pharmacies, research laboratories, art museums, and relaxation lounges. Dentists inform you exactly what they are going to do, show you story boards to drive home the point, and readily offer another squirt of pain killer as soon as you cry uncle. Here they also offer pick-up services at the nearest airport, accommodation packages, and Sunday morning and emergency appointments for those travelers extra pressed for time (why is it that the orally challenged are always pressed for time?).

Dental clinics these
days are multifunctional.
Now they
are pharmacies,
research laboratories,
art museums, and
relaxation lounges.

Don’t be surprised if a Czech dentist outside of Prague personally takes your distress call at five in the morning. A pleased patient satisfied with the topnotch care he’s never received back home from the national health insurance schemes has been known to invite his savior dentist to the local pub for a celebratory drink or two.

Take the Erpet Medical Centrum in Prague. How much cleaner, more sterile, or more professional can a place look? The new humming machines are surely the most technologically advanced things around for miles, if not countries. Their new x-ray is much safer than the conventional blasters, plus it’s panoramic. Now you get those ghostly images of bone pieces for 180 degrees, back to front, ready almost as quick as you can take a Polaroid.

At first glance, though, you might think you’ve stepped into some abstract art museum. Paintings of splatters and blobs hang in the sterile hallways with purple fluorescent light leaking from under precision doors. Open one door and it’s a strange place indeed inside – dark and quiet, inert forms either dead or asleep, lying in banana chairs, all facing a plasma tv screen flickering in the dark. Two grandmothers in fresh green scrub suits bustle by. They are the inhouse surgeons. One of them explains about the dim room. “It is for those who need time to surface after their analgosedation,” a new kind of half general anaesthesia “that doesn’t cause total blackout.” The women bustle between the sterilization room and operating room as if they were on their way to the pantry. They provide a personal touch as they drop a Czech proverb to ease the apprehensive.

Something is amiss though. It’s eleven in the morning, rush hour and madhouse time for any clinic back home, and yet this place seems just opened, almost abandoned. There are hardly any people at all, no waiting lines in sight. “We like to space each appointment an hour or so apart so that we don’t rush patients,” says Linda Zavoralová, Erpet’s marketing manager.

“You can call from London and get an appointment within two days, and then arrange however many visits you need for your one or two week stay.”

Yes, there’s time to talk here. You can speak with the staff in English, German, Italian, or Russian – take your pick. No need to worry about communicating, even with a mouth pried wide open. And focusing on the pretty historical buildings outside the window is relaxing too. Leave it to a Baroque corner or statue to ease anxiety a bit.

The number of Erpet’s foreign patients is still small (20%) but this number has been increasing rapidly. Call it chopper economics.

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