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Old 23-08-2012, 18:52   #1
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Cruising Dentist

Hello we are new to the site. My wife and I are getting ready to leave land and be cruisers. My wife is a dentist here in California. She loves her profession and would love to continue it again in the future maybe in the Caribbean. So we were wondering if anyone has come across a cruising dentist? We will be on a 47 foot lagoon so we have the space. She will be taking a portable xray, dental tools and equipment for us, but I was thinking if cruisers may like the opportunity of some minor dental work. Any ideas of whether this would be something needed? No sure how it would work as far as different country laws. We were thinking more in the lines as trading services rather than money making enterprise.

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Old 23-08-2012, 19:05   #2
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Great idea

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Old 23-08-2012, 19:08   #3
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Re: Cruising Dentist

She may be suprised at the going rates for well trained and equiped dentists outside the US.
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Old 23-08-2012, 19:11   #4
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Dentistry is typically a controlled practice in most countries. I suspect it would bring you into conflict. However simple charity style work for no reward would be ok. I would have taught a boat isnt a suitable place to do any advanced dental work.

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Old 23-08-2012, 19:54   #5
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Actually, for most regulated professions, the regs apply to pro bono charity work. It is not just a question of earning money from your work, but acting ethically and within standards.
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Old 23-08-2012, 20:10   #6
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Re: Cruising Dentist

All I know is I had a Chinese dentist pull in impacted molar in Samoa in the 70s and I would have Loved to have your wife be close at hand at that time !LOL that guy was a bucher !LOL O well it felt better in a couple of weeks !! Im sure if your helping sailing folk ya would never have a problem !! but I dont think I would advertize over the SSB tho LOL
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Old 23-08-2012, 20:18   #7
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Re: Cruising Dentist

Thanks for all the replies. Been going through the site and WOW so much info. I agree about conflicts, we thought we would just mention it to cruisers that we are here and she is a dentist. Maybe trade for a fresh fish or rum! Would have to pick the day but the 47 foot Lagoon is pretty stable. I have cruised before, was a delivery and charter captain for many years. I am also a qualified diesel and petrol mechanic, a scuba instructor, Y4 boat engineer and a auto electrician. And did a stint in a jet ski fiberglass fabrication factory so can fiberglass as well. Could never make my mind up what i wanted to do in life! But in the end I am sure I will be able to help fellow cruisers while they get their teeth fixed.
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Old 24-08-2012, 03:09   #8
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Re: Cruising Dentist

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF,Timtim.
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Old 24-08-2012, 05:36   #9
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Re: Cruising Dentist

As long you advertise by word of mouth and didn't setup shop it would probably be ok.
I would think the biggest hindrance would be not being able to have pain meds, don't think your US license will give you access to drugs outside US? For cleanings and simple checkups, no problem.
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Old 24-08-2012, 10:41   #10
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I'm all in favor. No offense, but dental bills are off the charts and way out of proportion in the u.s. compared to other cou ntries. My dad gets great dental work in Mexico for about one sixth of my outrageous dentist in wisconsin. I can actually pay for a trip to see him for a week with the savings on a crown or root canal. Sickening difference.

But I can get you fish and lobsters and pay for the material costs, and trade c arpentry work- great idea!
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Old 24-08-2012, 11:03   #11
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Re: Cruising Dentist

Working for profit or compensation of any kind potentally has it's complications, you will be after all working illegally, but low profile within the cruising community only is likely to be less complicated -- depending much upon the venue.

However, dental rates, and medical care in general, are radically cheaper outside the USA. And, this is for first class dental work -- not cut rate. At least here in Guate, if you want more than about $20 for a routine cleaning and exam then the cruisers are going to head ashore.

Take a look, this is the dental clinic I use, first class everything (all the latest gear and training), at reasonable rates (more expensive than many here, but still quite reasonable compared to the USA). And, there are many other good dental clinics here with much lower rates. See Multimédica Zona 15 | Centro Dental de Especialistas. The pictures on this site are not stock photos -- these are the actual clinic -- great views out over the "Vista Hermosa" area of Guatemala City too...right from the dental chair.

If you want to do volunteer work then opportunities abound and there is a strong legitimate need for them -- even at the modest rates for healthcare services here they are out of reach for the majority of the population. A dentist, and former sailing student of mine, founded "Salud y Paz". See They do good stuff.
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Old 24-08-2012, 11:40   #12
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Re: Cruising Dentist

Dentists are pretty much a rarity once you get out of the bigger cities, especially in remote cruising areas. Your services would be in demand but pay might have to be in fish or other barter goods. It would definitely garner you good will and get you into the life of the local communities. That alone may be worth the effort and make your cruising way more enjoyable.

The cruising community would definitely be able to pay you but there would probably be relatively limited demand. I did get a root canal in Papeete but was the only one we knew that needed dental work done.

I assume your wife wouldn't need to charge the rates that her local dental practice commands. My dentist keeps 3 women in the front office, 2 dental hygienists, and more than 3 dental assistants bustling about which is a lot of overhead to pay for. Suggest you bulk up on Dental Assistant skills as they will probably be part of your wife offering her services. That greatly cuts down on the cost of doing business as I'm sure you work cheap.

As with anything that cruisers do, things seem to be fine if you aren't competing with the locals for business. Doubt you'd hear a peep from the local officials if there is no readily available dentist where you'll be offering your services. In fact, probably have the officials lined up to get dental work done.
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Old 24-08-2012, 11:45   #13
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I would counsel against working under the table, as some here have advised. When cruisers take work away from locals by operating black-market businesses, they're not only ripping off their hosts, they're also disrupting the good relationships that most cruisers have with the people we visit. The last thing we want to see happen is for people who live in cruising destinations to develop an attitude that "since you're ripping us off, we're going to rip you off."
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 24-08-2012, 11:53   #14
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Re: Cruising Dentist

There used to be a very nice steel Ketch @50' that was set up with a dental office in the forepeak. It was built by hammock marine in Palm Coast Fla. The boat was never rigged or completely outfitted. It sat in Daytona Beach City marina for years. Might be worth while calling a few Daytona brokers and checking it out. The hull and interior were reall nicely done. I think the dentist who planned it became ill.
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Old 24-08-2012, 12:00   #15
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Re: Cruising Dentist

When I cruised the South Pacific in the 1980's there was a boat named Christopher Robin. Joel, the captain, was an Optemotrist (sp). He would give free eye exams and provide people with free glasses. I don't think that he ever got licensed anywhere. he would go to the cheif of the village and ask permission. He always got it and the people loved him.

He had set up a non profit foundation with 1/2 the profits from his practice to bring eye care to people in the South Pacific. I don't know all of the details but his foundation paid for his transportation (eg the foundation rented his boat) and paid him a small salary to perform his services to Island nations.

If someone is going to dodge paying taxes this seems like a pretty legal (and ethical) way to do it. If I were to do something like this now I would speak with Doctors without Borders and see if I could use there licensing exemptions.

If I had medical skills I would set up the same thing. I have the plan but haven't started on the execution yet.

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