It is no secret that the Healthcare and Insurance industry in the US is a multi-billion dollar industry. What this means is that CEOS of these corporations are enjoying extravagant lifestyles while the majority of Americans are struggling to pay their monthly health insurance. Even those with insurance can’t afford the high-deductibles at times. And those without health insurance run the risk of emergency visits and even regular procedures that run up massive amounts of debt. Some simple dental procedures may be affordable, but more complicated ones are costing way too much. Hence, the popularity of outsourcing medical visits to many other countries in the world. Most popular for Americans is Dental Tourism.
Oral health care does not come cheap in America. Millions of Americans unfortunately can not afford dental insurance on top of regular health insurance. Routine teeth cleaning alone costs about $80-$200 and dental crowns can cost an average of $1500.
Reasons Why So Many Americans Are Heading To Mexico for Dental Tourism
Going to the dentist for that annual check-up or a much needed dental work is not necessarily the most entertaining. But how about a trip to the dentist while on a quick Mexican getaway? Many Americans have been exploring Dental Tourism in Mexico for approximately 1/5 of the cost, as dental and standard healthcare in the US has become literally unaffordable. Millions of Americans have piled on not only massive student debt, but also medical debt until their death.
Mexico, on the other hand, is known for affordable dental care. Americans who cross the US-Mexico border to seek oral health care in Mexico are now fondly referred to as ”dental refugees.”
One of the most popular and reputable towns in Mexico for these procedures is in Los Algodones, a small town located right at the border of California and Arizona. There are likely over 50 dental offices just in this town within a few blocks. And it has been an incredibly popular option with clean Dental offices and some Dentists just as skilled as those in the US.
Best Dental Tourisms in Mexico: Los Algodones
Los Algodones, also known as the Molar City in Mexico, is the go-to place for the best dentists in Mexico. Los Algodones is located just across the California-Arizona border, about a 3.5 hour drive from Los Angeles. This small town is home to hundreds of dentists, dental clinics, and five dental laboratories, giving relief to dental refugees all year round. The number of dental refugees peaks through December to April when the weather is a bit cooler and more tolerable. In case you didn’t know, recovering from a dental procedure is easier when the weather is not too hot.
There is a steady flow of patients in dental clinics daily, as well as pharmacies full of people getting their prescriptions after their trip to the dentist. In addition to dental medicine, these pharmacies are filled with generic medicine of all sorts.
Dental labs in town are consistently busy catering to fittings and delivering them within hours to the patients. Procedures such as fitting for crowns and then getting them installed can potentially be done in one day. Otherwise, 2 days max.
Types of Dental Services Offered
Pretty much all the dental services offered in the US is offered in these clinics as well. Everything from basic routine checks, crowns to cosmetic (dental implants), restorative, Endodontal and periodontal.
While oral health care is cheap in this part of the world, it doesn’t always mean that services and procedures are of lower quality than that of the US. Dental clinics in Los Algodones are clean and dentists make use of modern technology when getting oral procedures done.
The reason why oral health care is affordable in this town and in Mexico is generally because of the lower cost of living compared to the United States, as well as the high competition among clinics and dentists. Studying dentistry in Mexico is being subsidized by the government, giving more opportunities to aspiring dentists.
Best Los Algodones Dentist: Castle Dental
Perhaps a huge drawback when it comes to heading the route of dental tourism in Mexico is that patients really have to do their research and look for reputable clinics and dentists. I highly recommend Castle Dental in Los Algodones, which I have personally gone to. Many friends have gone for years and rave of the consistent results.
Castle Dental has been serving affordable and quality oral health care for eleven years now. They have eight experienced doctors consisting of general dentists and specialists. You don’t have to worry about communicating with any of the dentists as they are all fluent in both Spanish and English. They also own a dental laboratory to ensure quality and precision. This add-on also cuts down the waiting time for patients.
Castle Dental is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA) so rest assured the doctors and staff are all professionally-trained. If you are getting multiple procedures done during your visit, you will most likely meet with one to three doctors as there is no single dentist who does everything in Castle Dental. Castle Dental is also a member of various insurance companies so you may opt to use yours during your visit. See the list of insurance companies here. Sanitation is key as Castle Dental observes proper sterilization of instruments and they only use filtered water.
Regular teeth cleaning at Castle Dental is around $30 (cash and credit card accepted). Composite filling procedure is at $40-80. A full porcelain/ceramic crown installation ranges from $300-400. And a single x-ray costs only $5. The clinic also offers a two-year warranty on implants and crowns.
Make sure you call to make an appointment ahead of time. (We were able to make an appointment just 4 days before visiting for a whole Crown Procedure.)
Address: Av. A Sn, Vicente Guerrero, 21970 Vicente Guerrero, B.C.
How to Get to Los Algodones
From Los Angeles, it took a total of 3.5 hours to drive southeast to Los Algodones. We parked at the parking lot adjacent to the border for $15 a night. 0 intimidation getting through the border as we simply walked through this tiny “immigration” booth and entered Mexico. Per a friend that visits frequently, it is always that easy. Guards are not always there to even check. No need to call a cab as all the dental offices are right there. I mean literally a 3 minute walk into town!
There will be plenty of male touts trying to make a commission by referring you to certain Dental Offices and Pharmacies. They can be a bit pushy, though not threatening. Just tell them that you already made your appointment. Some may ask where to try to make a commission, but you also can’t blame them for their hustle!
If you are flying in: The nearest airport in Los Algodones is the Yuma International Airport (about 13.6 km) in Yuma, Arizona. Upon arrival in Yuma, head to the Jimbo’s Towing station and take line 5 bus. The trip takes about 11 minutes and costs about $2 from Yuma to Los Algodones.
Where to Stay in Los Algodones
There are a number of affordable hotels you can stay at. We stayed at California Comfort & Suites for about $45 per night in a 3 star accommodation.
The check-in was easy, the staff very professional. Rooms are clean, relatively new with queen size beds, TV, full bathroom. Everything you need in town is walkable: the dental office, pharmacies, hotels, restaurants and bars.
Restaurants and Nightlife? The town of Los Algodones is catered almost entirely to Dental Tourism and Pharmaceutical customers. There are a number of restaurants and bars open that serve authentic Mexican cuisine. Which of course, makes the trip worthwhile for foodies and vacationers alike.
What I ate:
- On the left: Shrimp Ceviche at one of the family-owned restaurants in Los Algodones
- On the right: BBQ Chicken. I forget the restaurant name but if you see a family-owned restaurant with a BBQ outside, that’s the one!
- Below: Menudo (all from the same delicious restaurant)
Beaches near Los Algodones
Some people make use of a 3-4 day Mexican vacation during their Dental Tourism and head to one of the beaches just 3.5 hours from Los Algodones: San Felipe or Puerto Penasco. In this case, it’s worthwhile to drive your car in. Make sure that your Auto Insurance covers your car in Mexico.
I recommend using insurance broker Charlie Razzouk at Pledge Insurance who offers this coverage, email: Charlie@pledgeinsurance.com.