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Travel company offers dentistry in the sun

Jan. 22, 2011 at 10:39 PM

NAPLES, Fla., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A Florida travel company's selling point is trips that allow dental patients to save thousands of dollars on dental work while enjoying fun in the sun.

Michael Hardenbrook, who founded Dental Destinations with his girlfriend and a dentist, told the Naples Daily News he got the idea for the company when he needed expensive dental work while he was working for Americorps. He discovered that dentists in countries such as Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic charge far less.

"There are basically two types of patients we deal with," Hardenbrook said. "People either want to travel anyway and get the work done overseas to save money, or they need the work and can't afford it here."

While critics, especially U.S. dentists, warn that standards overseas are often lower, Hardenbrook said Dental Destinations provides quality control. He and his girlfriend, Priscilla Melendez, are both fluent in Spanish, and their partner, Dr. Ronald Peterson, once headed Arizona's State Evaluations Board.

Melendez said most trips are for a week, with patients having a procedure on Monday, followed by days for lab work and a follow-up visit. Dental Destinations does not arrange orthodontics abroad because patients need continuing visits, she said.

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