Dave's Faves: The Cavallini Clinic

By CometGlare Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Cavallini Clinic
http://www.aestheticdentistrycr.com/

Financial disclosure information:  I have no financial ties to this clinic or any of its dentists.  I am not employed by them in any capacity, nor do I receive commissions or any other form of consideration for referrals or anything else. 

I
heard so many good things about this clinic in Fall 2010 that I put it on my itinerary for my fact-finding trip that November.  I sat for an exam by Dr. Marco, and had a good visit.  Though I eventually decided that another dentist was a better fit for me, I remain impressed with this clinic and have been following its progress second-hand ever since.

   A word on names.  Patients of this clinic generally refer to the father-son team of dentists as "Dr. Cavallini" (Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini, the father, a US-trained specialist in prosthodontics) and "Dr. Marco" (Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Peralta, the son, a talented general dentist).  These names are so commonly used that I will follow that convention here. I hear through the grapevine that Dr. Marco is completing his graduate coursework as a specialist in prosthodontics.  I would like to be the first one to call him "specialist" once he finishes.  But until then, he is still technically a general dentist.

   There are now four full-time dentists at the clinic not named Cavallini: Dr. Ruben, Dr. Mora, Dr. Garita and their endodontist, Dr. Conejo. (There is another dentist also named Dr. Garita--Dr. Mario Garita, who has a clinic in Escazu.) 

   The Cavallinis had the largest and most devoted base of former patients of any clinic I looked at.  There were legendary stories of how Dr. Cavallini and Dr. Marco created a prosthetic upper jaw for a woman whose jaw was so injured that no clinic in the U.S. or CR could help.  Very impressive.  Another impressive indicator was the list of references the clinic was able to provide me when I asked.  Not only were there many patients willing to vouch for the clinic, but all these patients had received complicated procedures.  (Some other CR clinics had given me testimonials from patients who had received very minor dental work; I ignored such clinics.)  Several patients had full-mouth restorations, mostly from Dr. Cavallini, and everyone was pleased.  My reference list must have been more than 20 people if we include not just the people I spoke with or emailed, but also friends who were referred for work.  Not a one them uttered a discouraging thing.

    Recently the clinic and onsite lab have been expanding.  I was told that not only have they added a guest hotel ("Casa Marco"), but also an in-house pharmacy.   “Dr. Marco” (the son) has been at the clinic for 20 years, I am told. His Dad, who is getting up there in years, has cut back his time at the clinic to only (!) 40 hours a week.  But eventually he will have to retire and turn over the reins to Dr. Marco and his associates.

    In 2013, I heard sotto voce rumblings about the clinic.  These were always second-hand reports, never from the patient themselves.  I tend to discount second-hand reports.  The clinic, a long-time price-leader in CR, has always attracted more than its fair share of sour grapes from its competitors.

   There have always been sporadic Internet complaints about this clinic, going back as long as I've known about it.  I have investigated several of these complaints, and none have ever panned out.  In 2010, there were posts on Topix alleging outrageous, credulity-straining problems.  None of these checked out, and the posters would never identify themselves.  In March 2014 I looked into an unpublished allegation of bad workmanship at the clinic.  This story fell apart when it emerged that the work had been performed in the US.  More recently, in June and September 2014, there has been a poster on Topix and TripAdvisor alleging problems with her work at the clinic.  I looked into this, and don't believe a word of it. All these groundless allegations over the years have made me rather jaded.  I believe that the clinic takes its reputation very seriously and continues to deliver very good quality and high patient satisfaction through efficient, high-volume economies of scale. However, if you have evidence to the contrary, drop me a line.

    Some criticisms were directed more toward what I think of as the "style" of the clinic rather than its substance.  Many US patients are searching for an American-type of dental experience: with lush waiting rooms, fixed appointments, underworked receptionists, etc.  This clinic operates in a different--more efficient--way, and I think this is off-putting to some American patients.

     One distinctive feature of the clinic is its waiting room experience.  Patients are given only general times for appointments, and are expected to wait in the common waiting area until the dentists were ready.  I did this in November 2010 and had a good time talking with other patients, who were a mix of US and local patients.  Not everyone likes this system, though, so be warned.  If you prefer a dentist who can give you an exact appointment time, choose another clinic.  (Or stay at the dental clinic's in-house motel, the Casa Marco, and they'll call you down when it's your time.)  I personally think the Cavallinis' patient-management procedures are a brilliant innovation, but not everyone likes them.

     For more recent information about this clinic, let me refer you to other Topix posters.  Two posters in particular have followed it closely for several years.   "Jerry6665" spent a lot of time talking with me about the clinic in Fall 2010, and took it a little personally when I ultimately chose someone else.  He has "retired" from active posting now, but had been a frequent poster for many years.  In late August and September 2013, he posted about his long return visit to the clinic and contributed three photo essays to Photobucket (here, here, and here).
     Phyllis, another long-time poster, is now a full-time CR resident.  I met her on Topix in 2010, and then in person during a visit to CR in 2011.  She sent her daughter for a lot of work in May 2013, and she continues to refer family and friends to the clinic.
   In early 2014, "DCDan" posted about his experiences at the Cavallini clinic.  He was quite pleased.  I take satisfaction in his success because I was the one who gave him the name of this clinic.  I gave Dan the names of other dentists, as I always do, and he decided that this clinic best met his own requirements.  As long as I hear good feedback from patients of my favorite clinics, I'll continue to recommend them.


Comments welcome.    Are the Cavallinis your dentist?  If so, consider "paying it forward" by telling us about your experience (hints for posting).




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