(Published in The West Australian on 7 October 2010)

In the Mexican holiday town of Mazatlan, I had a choice of where to spend my morning: the beach or a dental surgery.

I chose the dentist’s. My problem was neither toothache nor stupidity. Rather I had a bad case of vanity and frugality.

The promise was a huge discount on what I would be charged in Australia for laser treatment on my bottom teeth. They would become white rather than what they had long been – sepia.

It wasn’t an attempt to look trendy again. I had never succumbed to growing one of those desperate grey ponytails or using a tattoo to cover any wrinkles.

Was I after a certain elderly elegance? No, I am not that ancient. What about an image of mature, debonair charm? Yes, that was the look I was after.

Husband and wife team: Dr Rafael and Dr Marisol

The  Orthodental Center in Mazatlan where Dr Rafael Carreno and his wife Dr Marisol Castro have their practice is clean and shiny. That dispelled some of my initial apprehensions about having dental work done overseas.

As I waited in the reception area for my mouth makeover I chatted to some patients from Canada. They had made appointments on the recommendation of friends. Those conversations  relaxed me further.

Dr Carreno later told me that about half of their clients are from Canada and the United States. They combine holidays with cheap dental treatment.

The laser treatment administered by Dr Castro didn’t hurt, one of my main criteria for successful dental work. It involved wearing a plate one night and then sitting through a couple of half hour appointments.

Once finished, she held up a mirror for me to check the results. “But I’m still bald!”, I joked. Then I remembered. Sean Connery, the sexiest man in the world, is also hair-free.

Feeling mature and debonair for the first time in my life, I flashed a gleaming ever-so-white grin and experimented with my new line: “The name’s Bond, Juan Bond”.