In a recent U.S. Military Campgrounds eNewsletter, I mentioned Connie and I would be getting our dental and optical care done in Mexico this winter. This prompted a few users to ask me some questions and suggested I write about our experience. While many long time full-time RV'ers are aware of getting low cost dental treatment in Mexico, this is a new concept to many others. We don't have dental or optical insurance (our choice), as it's more cost effective to have treatment done in Mexico.
There's usually three main concerns or questions about getting dental treatment done in Mexico:
What are the cost savings?
- The average cost for a normal (simple) filling in the US is $225; At a dentist in Mexico $45
- The average cost of a single dental crown in the US is $1150; At a dentist in Mexico $300
- The average cost for root canal, build-up and crown in the US is $2,094; At a dentist in Mexico $500
- The average cost of dental implant and permanent crown in US is $3,700; At a dentist in Mexico $1,500
Is it safe?Constant news reports, particularly in the US, give the impression that the drugs war has rendered most of Mexico unsafe. In fact, out of 2,500 municipalities (counties) fewer than 5% have been affected by the drugs war, and the US advisory has stated that, apart from Acapulco, all Mexico’s major tourist destination are safe. Most border towns are generally safe providing you don’t go looking for trouble, particularly at night. Thousands of dental patients travel to the border towns every year and experience no problems, and some towns, such as Los Algodones have reported no trouble at all.
Is the quality of dental care the same as back home?Connie was a dental assistant for 11 years before we "hit the road". Before she would "allow" us to have any dental treatment done in Mexico, she insisted that she inspect the dentist office for proper hygiene methods, equipment used, etc. For the offices that she's checked, she gave them her seal of approval, stating they are as good as those in the US. Many of the dentists in Mexico are members of the American Dental Association which means they are subject to the same guidelines and codes of conduct that their American counterparts are.
Our experience (and this article) is about getting dental treatment in Los Algodones, Mexico. This small town is directly on the border about 5 miles west of Yuma, AZ. Keep in mind that Yuma, Arizona is a major winter destination for RV'ers. Los Algodones caters to these RV'ers. The downtown area consists of about 100+ dentists, 20+ optical shops, 20+ pharmacies, many street vendors, and many places to dine. Crossing the border is very simple if you drive or walk. But be prepared for a delay getting back into the USA, especilly if you drive. The length of the delay varies on when you visit Mexico and return. So far this December, walking back into the USA has only taken 10 minutes or less. The line of autos looked like a 45+ minute wait. But this will get much worse in January and February.
Since everything is within walking distance (and it's faster to return), we always choose to walk across the border when visiting Los Algodones. There's a large parking lot on the USA side of the border for $6 a day. As soon as you cross the border, you're immediately "hit" with numerous hawkers trying to get you to visit a specific dentist, optical shop, or pharmacy. Then it's a matter of walking past the pushy street vendors. I understand they're trying to make a living, but they sure can be pesty! In my opnion, this is the worst part of going into Mexcio for dental treatment. But all them are glad to provide directions and assistance. Almost everyone speaks good english.
Since it had been over 6 years since we visited a dentist, we went with the recommendation of some friends and visited Dr. Sandoval and Dr. Beltran at Venus Dental (www.dentalvenus.com). This is a very friendly couple in a new, modern office. They recently broke away from working at another office and now operate their own business. They provided us with quality care using modern equipment (digital x-rays, oral camera, movies while being treated, etc.). Mexican dentists do operate a little differently (more efficiently?) than what we're used to in the US. The dentist does most of the work themselves. For example, there was no "hygenist" to clean our teeth. The dentist did it themselves. There wasn't always a dental assistant helping the dentist. We weren't sent to an Endodontist for root canals. The dentist did a good job by themselves (Connie was an endodontist assistant for 7 years). The dentist will do as much dental work as you request in one sitting. Getting a crown made, or other needed lab work, is usually ready on two days.
For us, we're happy with having dental treatment accomplished in Mexico. It's defintely helped with the budget!