It’s no secret that each year, hundreds if not thousands of RV snowbirds head to the border to arrange for cheap dental care in Mexico border towns. You hear about it all over the news like in this National Public Radio story. Why do they do it? Because getting your teeth fixed in Mexico is cheap. For example, according to the medi-torusim agency Dental Departures:
- Average cost of a single dental crown in the US $1150; At a dentist in Mexico $300
- Average cost for root canal, build-up and crown in the US $2,094; At a dentist in Mexico $500
- Average cost of dental implant and permanent crown in Mexico $3,700; At a dentist in Mexico $1,500
As a full-timer getting there is easy and you can save a lot of money, but the question remains; are you brave enough to get your teeth fixed by a dentist in Mexico?
Steps for Dental Care in Mexico
Step 1: Do your research. Search the Internet for phrases like “dental care on the Mexican border” and you’ll find hundreds of search results about other Rver’s experiences as well as listing private practice dentists. Get current information in places like RV discussion forums and Facebook groups. Find out who had good (and bad) experiences and get referrals.
Many dental offices don’t require an appointment, they hire sidewalk barkers to bring in tourists. However if you are seeking a specific practitioner you definitely want to arrange your visit on the phone ahead of time. People who’ve done it say that you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to communicate with their office staff.
Step 2: Set up camp in a popular snowbird destination like Yuma. Of course go during winter since temperatures are much more tolerable. Most campsites are less than 30 minutes away from the border.
Step 3. Arrange to go across the border. There are a few popular border towns known for offering cheap health care to Americans, such as Los Algodones, which is a mecca for medical tourism. You can go by yourself, meet up with other nearby snowbirds who want to do the same thing (ask around your RV park or campground, you’re bound to run into some), or you can even arrange work with a medical tourism guide to help you arrange your appointment.
You’ll find lots of information on the web to help you work out your logistics – that’s the easy part. What’s not so easy for me and many other Americans is getting over our American-born prejudices of the Mexican medical system. My RVer friends who’ve experienced successful outcomes with Mexican dentists assure me that most Mexican dentists are up to the same standards of care as American ones. The reason they cost so much less is their dental school education is paid for by the Mexican government, which only asks for one year of public service to pay back their debt. And unlike American health care practitioners, Mexican ones aren’t at the mercy of malpractice lawyers and lawsuits.
Although I’m a cheapskate at heart and would love to save on dental work that I’ll eventually need, I’m still a little fearful about taking this leap. Maybe if I ever need the care bad enough and if my funds are low I’ll be ready to go, but for now I’ll stick with my American dentist – who also happens to be my brother-in-law and who without a doubt would disown me if I did such a thing!
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Kathryn McDaniel says
We have gone to Yuma and Algadones for 5 years in a row for dental work. However, we found someone that family had already tried out and were happy with the results. We go to Dr. Juan Bernal, just a few blocks into Algadones, MX. WE park our car in the $5 parking lot on Yuma side, and you just walk down the ramp and you are in Mexico. We stay at the Quezcan Casino, 1 mile? from the border. It costs $13 per day to dry camp there and it very safe. You could also camp there and take a taxi to the border crossing. We make it a rule to be out of Mexico by night time as a safety protection. WE also go in the winter when temperatures are not so hot! There is a primitive campground right next to the border, that has a sewer dump for $5 that we used too. Hope this helps. We have got the most excellent dental care there with less pain and less $$$.
Kathryn McDaniel says
No one checks you going into Mexico. I would not drive my car into Algadones. You need a passport to get back out of Mexico tho….and it needs to be current. You can get your prescriptions filled cheaply there but you are only allowed 30 days supply each trip thru the border, per person.
Rene Agredano - The Full Timing Nomad says
Thanks for the tips Kathryn, I’ve learned tons since writing that post!
Charles Fahn says
I have used dentist in Las Algodones for about 25 years exclusively except most, not all, of my implants were done by son-in-law. He’s an oral surgeon and does nothing else, even for me!
When I needed specialist my Mexican dentist would arrange it and I used who he recommended. Now it seems like he has traveling specialist come to his office to perform their work on me. Works out great. I still use the the same dentist that was picked for me by a knowledgeable Yuma journalist who’s wife was from Las Algodones.
I have taken my wife years before we had any Las Algodones Dentristy to San Jose, Costra Rica for a full mouth of veneers. He was very good also but quite a bit more expensive than Las Algodones.
I don’t know anybody that has had more dental work in Mexico than me.