Healthcare

Getting Your Dental Work Done in Mexico

Dentistry in Mexico

Los Algodones, Baja California is one of the most unusual places in Mexico, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Located just across the U.S. border, about eight miles west of Yuma, Arizona, this small town with a population of just over 5,400 plays hosts to tens of thousands of visitors from the USA every year. Can you guess why?

While Los Algodones has some of the things you might expect from any border town in Mexico—vendors in open air markets selling souvenirs, sunshine, music, outdoor cafes—what you may not expect are the literally hundreds of dentists, doctors, opticians and pharmacies that line the streets. Many claim that there are more dentists in the four blocks square of el centro of Los Algodones than in any other four blocks in the world. There are so many dentists tucked into every corner that they defy counting as this attempt demonstrates.

Snowbirds (migratory retirees) and citizens from both Canada and the U.S. flock to Los Algodones for inexpensive dental care, medicines, eyeglasses, and medical care. For many, a trip to Los Algodones is an annual ritual. And why not? Dental procedures are a fraction (typically 25-35% percent) of what they cost on the U.S. side of the border and most of the dentists and their staff members speak English. The dentists are licensed, some are members of the American Dental Association, some were trained in the U.S. and while the work varies in quality somewhat based on the training and experience of the dentist and the quality of the materials used, it is generally good to excellent.

But the real benefit of a place like Los Algodones is that there are important dental options available to patients that are simply not offered to patients of modest means by dentists to the north, namely: those procedures based on dental implants. Why not? Because these procedures are so expensive in the U.S. and Canada that many dentists never or rarely do dental implants and seldom offer the option to those living on a fixed income. If a single tooth is missing, they offer bridges involving healthy teeth to either side of a missing tooth with an artificial tooth filling the gap. If several teeth are missing they offer “partials” or other dental devices. And if a patient needs all or nearly all of their teeth replaced, they are told they need dentures.

In Mexico the recommended solution in all of these instances is much more likely to be a solution based on the technology of dental implants. This is by far the preferred treatment if you qualify. For example, All-on-Four and All-on-Six solutions, where a full-arc bridge is permanently affixed to four or six dental implants, is a much more satisfactory long-term solution than removable dentures for patients who don’t have health issues that might eliminate them as candidates.

From the U.S. side, Los Algodones is most easily reached via the international border at Andrade, California. From Andrade, visitors can park their vehicles for a fee in a Native-American owned lot (no overnight parking) and walk across the border, or simply drive across to Los Algodones.

Monica Rix Paxson is an expert in the field of Mexico healthcare. She is author of the English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, and co-author of The English Speaker’s Guide to Doctors & Hospitals in MexicoeBooks available for immediate downloadShe resides full-time in Mexico.

8 Comments

  1. Dawn says

    Dr. Jorge Cortez destroyed my teeth and ripped me off . He had an unlicensed assistant drill on my teeth destroyed it cause me so much pain. I was screaming and convulsing. Pain trauma, infection, and over 13,000 to fix his damages

    • Monica Rix Paxson says

      I am sorry to hear about your experience. While malpractice is rare in Mexico, if you have a bad experience, I recommend that you report it to the appropriate authorities and whomever made the recommendation in the first place (assuming you had one). Cases are handled by arbitration though CONAMED which stands for Comisión Nacional de Arbitraje Médico [National Commission of Medical Arbitration]. http://www.conamed.gob.mx/main_2010.php The page is available in English as well. There are additional remedies covered in my book “The English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico” you may want to pursue.

      • Marysol says

        Dear Monica,

        Do you recommend a dentist in Tijuana?

        Thank you!

  2. Thomas Flanagan says

    I started with Bernal Dental Group in August 2014. I needed extensive work. Start with 2 extractions. Then stared the implant process for 4 teeth. The work was done professionally and very little discomfort. I returned in December 2014. Started the implant process for one of the extracted teeth and had 6 lower teeth capped. My wife started the implant process for 2 implants. We have to return in 6 months to complete the implants. My work with everything from air fare, hotel and car rental will coat me about 11 grand. USA would have cost 35 grand. Very satisfied and would do it again.

  3. Susan says

    We do all of our major dental work in Mexico, from braces, crowns to implants, with a help of a medical tourism located in CO called PlacidWay. The underlying reason is we don’t have dental insurance. Dental treatment in Mexico is a cheap alternative for many Americans. The clinic service is excellent, and all the materials such as titanium and ceramic implants also came from the US. The quality of work and service by the dentist is exceptional, and affordable.

    But for me it’s also important to choose a dental destination as close to home as possible, since a major dental treatment may require at least 2-3 times visit to ensure the effectiveness of the procedure. It makes sense to choose a destination you can visit often, talking about cost efficient travel.

  4. Swis Cana says

    Acapulco GRO has all sorts of high quality dentists, doctors, chiropractors.
    If you don’t ask around first you may occasionally find a bad one. Ask expatriates or tourists who come every year to MX.
    Aca has also good low cost hotels which don’t advertise. Zocalo circle 300 meters.

  5. Peter Berge says

    If you’re not in a border state and would have to get on a plane, you might consider going to Mexico City. You can have a crown placed from a lab that will guarantee the materials for five years in the U.S., by a well-qualified dentist, for around $300. Even extensive periodontal work, with or without laser, can be done for less than half of the cost in the U.S., while enjoying everything that a huge, cosmopolitan, culturally-rich city has to offer. Implants, as mentioned, are also available.

    • Luke says

      Hi Peter,
      Do you have any specific recommendations or references you would recommend? I’m working in Mexico City for the next year and a half, and I would like to have a dental implant.
      Many thanks!

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