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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Clinics Sell Cavity Care Without the Caveats

Almost everybody knows that there is nothing worse than suffering from a toothache, except perhaps the cure itself from a Russian dentist.


Until recently that was the case -- in the days when people were deprived of quality dental treatment and often resorted to simply extracting the offending tooth and replacing it with a silver or gold crown.


A few years ago, this situation changed somewhat with the arrival of Western dentistry in Moscow. Clinics equipped with the latest technology and staffed with experienced Western doctors gave hope to those looking for decent dental treatment in the city. Unfortunately, the majority of such clinics remain prohibitively expensive for ordinary people.


Now, more profound changes are evident with the appearance over the last two years of a dozen Russian-managed, Western-style dental facilities offering quality of care comparable to the Western-run establishments.


These so-called "commercial" clinics are gradually gaining popularity among Muscovites, by offering services at prices from 15 percent to 30 percent lower than their Western counterparts.


Like the Western-run clinics, the Russian operations boast the latest German dental equipment for diagnostics, treatment and restorative dentistry.


A principle difference between the new Russian clinics and the old-style Russian ones is that of philosophy: Be patient. Avoid pain. Save the tooth.


"Now, when [restoration dentistry] is available, less people need to install crowns, and that saves a lot of work for dentists who make crowns," said Alexei Yeshtokin, director of the Tekhnologia Stomatologia Servis, one of the city's most reputable clinics.


Located in southwest Moscow, it has been operating for 1 1/2 years and treats between 10 and 20 patients per day. Yeshtokin said the clinic has made a point of hiring young dentists, who he feels are better able to use new equipment and free themselves from the old ways of thinking about dental care.


Fillings at TSS start at 100,000 rubles ($19). To have a crown made of ceramic and metal and installed is a two-week process costing 800,000 rubles. Hygienic services like the removal of coffee and tobacco stains and placque are priced at between 5,000 and 15,000 rubles per tooth.


Tekhnologia Stomatologia Servis is located at 125 Prospekt Vernadskogo. Tel. 434-0070. Nearest metro: Yugo-Zapadnaya.


One of the newest and most reasonably priced dental clinics in the city is Masterdent, which opened last spring in southern Moscow. The clinic, with a cheery, television-equipped waiting area, has three rooms: one for general treatment, one for the installation of false teeth and one for dental operations.


The clinic's pride is a Trophy visiography X-ray machine which emits several times less radiation than a conventional machine and displays the results immediately.


Though Masterdent's owners expected originally to serve only the wealthy, within months they had developed a clientele which included people from the local working-class neighborhood as well as foreigners and New Russians. The latter has turned out to be the most difficult and capricious group of all.


"Sometimes it's hard to convince a customer of what is good for him and what is bad," said Oleg Filippov, a dental surgeon at Masterdent. "Our people have a great trust in TV commercials, ads and newspaper articles but not in doctors. If a patient wants his teeth shining white, by all means it's impossible to explain to him that his enamel is too sensitive and will get much thinner after whitening."


Yelena Kuzmina, the head doctor at Masterdent, also had some experience in dealing with fickle patients.


"There was a case of a young woman who didn't like her nice healthy natural-colored upper teeth," said Kuzmina. "So, I had to perform root canals on all her upper teeth and put on white toilet-like crowns."


Prices for crowns at Masterdent are $190 each. Installation takes 10 to 14 days. An initial examination costs 54,000 rubles and fillings start at $25. Anaesthesia costs $3 to $15. Cleaning services are $2 per tooth.


In general, dentists at Masterdent -- like those at TSS -- are skeptical about the latest dental innovations like whitening or the more drastic implantation of a false tooth into the jaw bone.


"European dentists no longer do it and, instead, rely on the installation of crowns because implants don't always fit and might cause harmful complications," Dr. Filippov said. "Here it's just coming into fashion and some people don't care about the medical side of the matter. I don't think that a dentist's office should be turned into a beauty salon."


Although Masterdent's doctors are conservative and cautious with trendy techniques, they are quite progressive when it comes to pain.


"People come here not because of good equipment and good quality fillings," said Dr. Kuzmina. "They come because they are scared of pain and suffering and know that no one will hurt them here."


Masterdent is located at 2 Vostochnaya Ulitsa, building 3. Tel. 274-1211. Nearest metro: Avtozavodskaya.


For a clinic with Russian dentists and an American general manager, toothache sufferers may want to visit Dentco, which charges $5 for an examination and a minimum 150,000 rubles for a filling. A warning to those without a car, Dentco is not easy to reach. It's located in the neighborhood of Belaya Dacha and is reachable by buses 354, 347 or 348 from Kuzminki metro station. Tel. 559-7718 for directions.


For those who don't want to schlepp outside central Moscow, Intermedservice, one of the city's first Western-style clinics having opened over four years ago, is a good option as it is located on the 20th floor of the Intourist Hotel.


The cost of a filling at Intermedservice, including anaesthesia, starts at 300,000 rubles. Swiss-made crowns are 1,780,000 rubles, a price which includes a three-week installation process. The clinic doesn't perform cosmetic services.


Intermedservice is located at 3/5 Tverskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 203-8631. Nearest metro: Okhotny Ryad.


For those with a skepticism of Russian dentistry so deep that no amount of fancy equipment and high-level training can surmount it, there is a still a healthy choice of Western-run dental facilities.


Probably the most moderately priced of such clinics is the Adventist Health Center, where fillings cost between $50 and $125 including anaesthesia.


The Adventist Health Center is located at 12A Prospekt Shestidesyatiletya Oktyabrya. Tel.126-79-06. Nearest metro: Akademicheskaya.


At the American Medical Center an initial examination is $75 for nonmembers, while fillings for the same group of people start at $150. Those who have AMC membership get a 30 percent discount on all services.


The European Medical Center charges $80 for an examination and fillings start at $53. Those with a family membership get a 10 percent discount. Like AMC, EMC doesn't charge a fee for the examination if treatment occurs on the same day.


AMC and EMC are located at 10 2nd Tverskoi-Yamskoi Pereulok. AMC's telephone is 956-3366 and EMC's 251-6099. Nearest metro: Mayakovskaya.


An examination at the Dental Spectra Studio is $15 including X-rays if necessary. Single fillings cost up to $100. DSS has two offices, one at 31 Grokholsky Pereulok (Tel. 280-8765. Nearest metro: Prospekt Mira) and the other at 12 Ulitsa Fotievoi, building 2 (Tel. 137-0398. Nearest metro: Leninsky Prospekt).


At U.S. Dental Care, an American-run dental clinic, an examination costs $80. X-rays cost $15 each and fillings start at $95. US Dental Care is located at 8 Shabolovka, building 3. Tel. 236-8106. Nearest metro: Shabolovskaya.