How I Got My Smile Back

Posted by Mark Mardon on Nov 21, 2018 5:54:33 AM

If you are a semi-retired American living in the States without dental insurance, are living on Social Security and have no nest egg to tide you over, you may find the prospect of meeting even basic dental needs in the U.S. to be daunting.

Such was the case with Mark Mardon. Here is his story.

A year ago, my only major health issue was my teeth. They were a mess. I had stopped smiling because I was ashamed. Finally, it was time for me to face the music and take steps to get them fixed. The question was, how?

That’s when I thought about my former college classmate, Holly Wilson, who had recently invited me to visit her at Gran Pacifica Resort in Nicaragua. She and I had attended the School for International Training in Vermont back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The school emphasized social and environmental responsibility in a global context. For the past year, Holly has been working as Gran Pacifica’s Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator, organizing multiple outreach programs involving local communities.

Help from "Everyone"

By way of an email I asked Holly about the availability of low-cost, high-quality dental care in Nicaragua. “Come on down,” she replied immediately. “Something that will cost you $4,000 in the states will cost you maybe $1,000 down here.”

Now, “low cost” and “high quality” would seem to be an oxymoron anywhere, but it turns out they go hand in hand in Nicaragua, at least as far as dental work is concerned. I took up Holly’s invitation to venture to Nicaragua (having never been to the country before but with extensive experience in other parts of Latin America) and was surprised and delighted at the outpouring of helpful advice on who to see here for dental work. It seems there is no shortage of well-qualified, top-notch dentists available. Since I speak a smattering of Spanish, my options were doubly excellent. Tips came pouring in not just from Holly, but from Gran Pacifica staff and residents, the manager of the hotel I stayed at in Managua, the driver who brought me from Managua to the resort (whose gleaming pearly whites evidenced good dental care), and even players at a local baseball game.

The dentists I finally visited in Managua operate out of their home/clinic. It's not gleaming and spotless. It looks well lived in. Off in one room, there's a workshop where dentists craft teeth of enamel. That's what they did for me. Hand-crafted veneers. They ground down what teeth I had remaining, and fixed the veneers on top of those, permanently. Their work is fantastic!

Marks smile

Mark in Dentist Chair

My teeth feel strong and permanent. I can eat corn on the cob and apples. I can whistle. I can play my flute without feeling a toothache. I smile freely once again!

That was just the beginning of my journey in Nicaragua, and what a great beginning it was. I loved my dentists! They are a couple with a young son who wants to follow in their footsteps. They took extraordinary care of me. I welcomed each visit. Moreover, they met me at the price I was able to pay, $2,000, which was a pittance in the U.S. but got me the best dental care I've ever had, with folks I now regard as friends.

Thanks, Nicaragua!

If you’d like to visit Gran Pacifica and live life simply, you can book your reservations here.

Mark and DentistsDentist Family


ECI Development delivers affordable luxury residence and resort communities in Central America, providing our clients with various premier lifestyle options from the Caribbean to the Pacific. ECI delivers inspired residences for adventurous souls.

Coupled with over 20 years of inherent corporate social responsibility in the communities where we work, ECI Development is building a sustainable business that is going to be around for the next 100+ years.

Mark Mardon

Written by Mark Mardon

Topics: retirement vulnerability, Gran Pacifica in Nicaragua, lifestyle, Michael G. McAuley, Living in Latin America, Nicaraguan Culture, Living In Nicaragua