A Visit to the Dentist in Bogota, Colombia

This is a story based on true events that occur in Bogota, Colombia around October 2012.

Contemplating doing some dental work in Bogota, Colombia

Daniella and Rio are contemplating doing some dental work while they are travelling through Bogota, Colombia. Today they are going to meet the dentist for the first time.

Dr. Rosana, the dentist, was recommended by Daniella's brother, Juan. On their arrival in Colombia in early October, one of the first things Juan said, “Look at my beautiful teeth,” as he proudly displayed a glowing smile revealing immaculate, evenly-spaced teeth. “I recommend Dr. Rosana…she does excellent work.”

Buenos Dias,” says the the fully uniformed security guard sitting at a table located inside the front doors of the medical building where Dr.Rosana has her office. The smile on his face signals a hospitable greeting.

Buenos Dias…Good morning,” says Daniella and Rio also simultaneously in English and Spanish.

Daniella gives the guard her identification and he gives her a plastic card with a reference number in return. They proceed up the small elevator to the fourth floor. They then walk across gleaming beige and cream tiled floors as they proceed to the receptionist.

It smells like if the floors were just recently mopped and cleaned with a cleaner of really good fragrance,” Rio comments.

As he is saying this a girl in light- blue uniform with a white mask covering her nose and mouth pushes a bucket with a broom across the floor and imparts a refreshing smile to Rio and Daniella.

Squeaky Clean waiting area in dental clinic, Bogota, Colombia

Everyone one here seems to have a really positive outlook to everything,” Rio observes.

Welcome to Colombia,” Daniella says with a beam on her face.

The receptionist with identical warmth as the other people they met on the way up tells them to wait for a few minutes. She signals them to sit on the orange seats facing a flat screen TV.

Look Rio, there is the mountain that runs along the perimeter of Bogota,” Daniella is pointing through the window as she speaks.

Mountain running along perimeter of Bogota, Colombia

It's very close at this point,” Rio responds and he gazes at the beautiful green, undulating terrain that continuously beckons with great strength.

The receptionist now indicates to Rio and Daniella that Dr Rosana is ready to see them. When Dr. Rosana opens the door to her office, her buoyant, optimistic personality emanates from the pristine, speckless room creating a gracious atmosphere. She greets them both with a warm hug.

Dr. Rosana starts to speak with Daniella doing the translation between the languages of Spanish and English. “I hope you like this beautiful land of Colombia.”

You may be wondering about our Dental Profession here in Colombia

Yes, it's really fascinating…all the new experiences, sights and sounds. I was just reading that its the only country in South America that has coasts on both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.” responds Rio.

Yes there are many unique characteristics about Colombia. But you may be wondering about our dental profession here in Colombia and may be a bit hesitant and cautious.” Dr. Rosana is explaining.

Well…yes….But I have been reading and understand that many people from countries like Canada and the United States seek dental work in this county…and they have been very pleased with the standard and quality….and of course the cost,” Rio says haltingly.

Let me give you some background. Colombia has approximately 21 dental schools…16 are private and 5 are public. Some of the schools have branches so in reality there are about 41 different dental facilities in Colombia…and these statistics were of a few years ago so the numbers may be greater now.” Dr. Rosana continues.

Well with that number of dental facilities there must be many students entering each year,” Daniella is asking curiously.

Yes… there are approximately 10,000 first-year dental students that are admitted to the various accredited dental schools in Colombia each year…again that number could have risen as this statistic was taken a few years ago.” Dr Rosana elaborates.

And what would be the typical duration of the program,” Rio questions.

5 years…This 5-year dental school program culminates in a Doctor of Dental Surgery. This is the D.D.S. degree…but the program is very demanding…in 2005 there were 9,930 first-year dental students, but only 868 graduated,” Dr Rosana is explaining.

Dr. Rosana's cell phone rings and she speaks to a client in Spanish. Daniella and Rio survey the dental office. On the ceiling there is recessed lighting, and around the room various cabinets that have red, blue and semitransparent glass doors. A private washroom is neatly concealed behind a red sliding door.

Decorations around Dr. Rosana's office

Look at those little lights in the shape of teeth on top of the cabinet. They look charming,” says Daniella.

Decorative clock mounted on wall in Dr. Rosana's office

And the same for that clock mounted one the wall,” added Rio.

Dr. Rosana is now off the phone and she speaks to Daniella in Spanish about a humorous incident that occurred earlier that day. The conversation goes back and forth with much laughter and much exuberance. Daniella signals to Rio that she will translate later.

While Dr. Rosana and Daniella are speaking, Rio opens up his iPad and looks at some of the bookmarks he had saved while doing his research on Colombian dentistry. He is silently reading one of the saved web pages, “The culture and educational systems in the Colombian dental practice are united. The emphasis is more on the care, comfort and healing of the patient than the exhibition of technical expertise. Human touch is part of the culture and its part of the way dentistry is practised…human touch, building close relationships, healing and care.”

Preparing for an extraction and implant, Bogota, Colombia

A few weeks later after Daniella and Rio have made the decision to proceed with the dental work, Rio is sitting on the dental chair preparing for an extraction and implant.

Tranquilo,” Dr. Rosana is saying in her gentle voice as she rubs his head and strokes his forehead and emanates a comforting smile.

Don't worry she is saying,” says Daniella.

Rio takes in a deep breath, breaths out slowly and looks out the window and see the fluffy clouds drift over the mountain peaks as Dr Rosana skillfully and carefully commences her work.


Dr. Rosana Peñas Cubides, Rehabilitación Oral, Estéticia Dental, Odontóloga Universidad Nacional, Universidad Militar C.I.E.O. Calle 93B No. 17-12 Consultorio 404, Mediocentro, Bogota, Colombia

Dental Education in Colombia