It’s now two months since I’ve returned to Connecticut from Guatemala, and I’m still running into old friends and acquaintances who rave about my new white smile. They tell me I look like myself, only better. And I tell them that my dental experience in Guatemala was a trip of a lifetime and a dream come true.

I had crowns, resin fillings, and laser whitening, all-in-all over $10,000 worth of dental work, at a cost of only $3,000. Even with airfare it was still less than half of what I would have paid in the U.S. What’s more, I had the pleasure of meeting the charming Guatemalan dentist who did the work swiftly and painlessly during short visits over several days. I sat in his chair looking at ancient beams in the ceiling while, through an open window, bougainvillea blossoms swayed from a vine in a courtyard.

The person who made all of this happen, who found my perfect dentist, helped me make treatment decisions, squired me to and from appointments and served as a top-notch travel guide was the unstoppable Lori Shea. She is a gifted medical matchmaker as well as a gracious hostess. It is her energy and smarts that lead me to the beautiful moment when I heard Dr. Sami say: “Your mouth is healthy, your teeth are strong and protected, your smile is all set for life.” It’s by far the best gift I’ve ever given myself.