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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Why I went to Mexico for dental treatment

Updated: Jan 23

Being quoted $24,000 in Australia to have my teeth fixed, including crowns, was a shock to my system. However, going to a dentist in Los Algodones, Mexico set me back only $5000 for the same treatment. It was also done quicker and with less visits than my Australian dentist wanted me to attend.

Los Algodones is just over the border from California. Once you pass Yuma, you know it is close as dental billboards line the highway. Most people park their cars on the California side and walk through the border crossing. It costs around $6 to park your car for the day. Native Americans own the parking lot and this is a great way for them to raise money.

The town is literally on the other side of the crossing. As soon as you enter Mexico, there are people asking if you want dental work, glasses or pharmacy. The city is often called “Molar City” due to the almost six hundred dentists in a four block radius that cater for medical tourists.

a row of dentist surgeries line the street in Mexico, cars parked on the curb outside, and Professional plaza noted on one building, implant centre on another, dental care on another

Estimates are that dental treatment is between 40-60% cheaper than the same work in USA and Canada. Prescription glasses cost under $50 and people can bring their US prescription details with them. Keep in mind that you can only bring back across the border into the US three months of prescription medication.

a blue board on a sidewalk with stickers promoting pharmaceutical prices. The stickers are yellow with black writing
a row of white tall cubicles, 6 shelves high, filled with medicines in a pharmacy in Mexico. The floors are tiles and the whole area is very clean and tidy.

I had friends who had recommended their dentist there, and an appointment had been arranged just a week earlier. The dentist examined my teeth, had a driver take me for dental x-rays in the next street, then I returned with the same driver. Upon returning to the surgery, the dentist asked if I wanted to start the work that very day. Of course, I definitely did. I stayed at a casino hotel a few miles away in California overnight, just in case I was too weary to drive the three hours back to my accommodation in Arizona.

Plus, it gave me the opportunity to go window shopping at the many stalls and shops in town.

three skeleton statues in a store in Mexico, brightly coloured with sombreros on their heads, and traditional mexican  clothing
a ceramic female skeleton statue, with blue and white painted clothing stands next to a colorful dog statue. in the background are mexican painted tiles, for houses with numbers and letters individually on each one

A second appointment was booked for a week later. I made sure I arrived several hours early each time as I wanted to show and enjoy lunch with the locals (and a couple of hundred other medivacationers). The food is delicious and cheap. I ate once at a local venue where the food was plentiful.

a food stall in Mexico, open to the street, the red and white sign above it is emblazoned with the Coca Cola logo and the words Taqueria Los Poblanos

The second time I shared a lunch table with two men who were friends of each other from Texas. It was an outdoor setting with a band entertaining the diners. The singer played mostly 70s music and sang in English. My two lunch companions come here once a month for medication, which is a lot cheaper than they could purchase in the USA. They also said they were retired and it was a great opportunity to have a couple of days break from their respective partners. I simply explained a few food allergies I had and let the waiter decide what I should eat. It was a good choice.

food on a plate in a Mexican restaurant. The white plate has rice, refried beans, an open taco and a rolled up pastry

If you are brave, try eating something from one of the food carts on the street.

a food cart in the street in Mexico has large pots simmering on a stove, a man serving, and a collection of  containers with things to add into the soup.

The vendors take US dollars, very few of them will take credit card. A lot of the stores are open air and it is expected that customers will barter. Offer half of what they ask, then bargain from that point.

The second appointment finished off all my dental work. I have never been happier with a dentist’s service. It was exceptional. The surgery was clean and first rate with hi tech equipment. The staff were polite and attentive. They spoke excellent English, which was a bonus. I was asked by friends “aren’t you worried about the water conditions in Mexico?” Most of the dentists in Los Algodones have advanced sterilization systems and very good water filtration.

Some visitors even turn their trip into a rewarding spa experience.

a sign outside a unisex beauty shop offering wax, facials, men cut, highlights, hair color, women cut, manicure, pedicure, perms

It is worth spending a few hours checking out the stalls and shops. Brightly colored pottery, metal lawn signs and clothing are popular items bought here. It was a definite feast for the eyes looking at everything. I bought a small shoulder bag, but was oh so tempted to buy a lot more goodies. OK, I admit it, I did buy some jewelery too.

gold jewelery hangs from a black covered board, on the bench top are lots of turquoise bracelets

When crossing the border back into US, the border guards will ask to see your passport or ID card. They will ask what you bought and often check that you haven’t gone over your limits. If you have, they have the right to confiscate the excess.

So, there it was and I am very glad I went to Mexico for dental treatment. A fantastic saving on my dental work, some super cheap medications that I regularly take, great food and a fabulous bit of window shopping. I felt very safe in the town, but as always, beware of pick pockets and ensure you research your dentist thoroughly beforehand. It is definitely worth the time and effort to have a mini vacation and get most of your medical (and shopping) needs met.

a street in Mexico filled with dentists, pharmacies and optometrists, as well as shops selling clothing and statues

Happy Travels!

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1 Comment

Timothy Lukasik
Timothy Lukasik
Nov 26, 2023

Now your smile matches your outgoing personality. Congratulations and Happy Holidays.

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