Dental Work in Mexico
This morning I made my final trip into Los Algodones to complete my major dental project. Without getting into too much detail about my specific problem, my reason for checking out the dentists in Algodones was my continually deteriorating upper teeth, undoubtedly the result of way too much eating over the last sixty-nine years, resulting in excessive wear on all my upper teeth, especially my front ones. I did not initially plan to have as extensive an amount of work done as I ended up doing, but the promise of an end to my continual problems with my upper teeth, combined with the very reasonable price for doing the work, convinced me to proceed with this major restoration.
This is the scene as you first step into Mexico, street hawkers approaching you to offer their services ( and there is no end to them! ).
I always parked in the large parking lot on the US side of the border ( $6 day ) and walked across the border. Crossing the border in your car requires Mexican insurance coverage, plus I have no idea where one would park once in Algodones, the street layout is nothing like what you encounter in the US. I found it best to get my appointments for as early in the morning as possible, since the border crossing back into the US can be painfully long, as in two or three hours waiting in line if you get out of the dentists after noon. My waits in line varied from 20 minutes at 11 AM to two hours and forty minutes at 3 PM, so best to get out early. In six border crossings, twice bringing prescription drugs with me, I never had any issue with the check point, just hand them my passport and told them what medicine was in the bag and they run you right through. It’s the line that will kill you!
The number of dentists and eye care shops in Algodones is pretty hard to believe. One of the dentists that worked on me said he figured there were around 300 or more dentist in town.
And there is no shortage of tacky shops offering every and anything you don’t need.
Nothing that would appeal to me, but pretty colorful though.
My local dentist back in New England, whom I had been seeing for over twenty-five years, had actually proposed doing a major restoration job to resolve this problem long ago. he took molds of my bite, worked out a program and presented me with an estimate for resolving my problem once and for all. I was very nervous when I went in to receive the final estimate, would I be able to justify the expense, would it be $10,000 or some other ridiculously high number? I kind of made up my mind that I would consider going ahead if it was ten grand or less, it would be worth it to get this continually deteriorating situation resolved. But any more than that and I just didn’t feel I could justify the expense.
Well, he made my decision easy … the estimate was for $ 44,000 ! So I just continued on as is, fixing chipped teeth, a crown now and then then, other basic maintenance work, until this winter. With a new chipped front tooth and still more sensitivity from excessive wear on a couple of my back molars, I decided to investigate dental work in Mexico while I was staying near Yuma this winter.
I had never ventured across the border to Mexico before and I was concerned about the quality of care one might receive there, so I checked in with fellow full-time RV bloggers to see what others had experienced with dental work in Algodones. If you are interested, here are some of the posts I read while checking this out:
Islandgirlwalkabout … Molar City
Winnieviews … Implants for Nomads
Desert Dental Care, the facility I chose, is located on the left in the image above, just two blocks from the border crossing.
This colorful courtyard can act as an outdoor waiting room for patients at Desert Dental Care, their inside waiting room is behind the bench on the left.
Based on some very favorable reviews from clients, I chose Desert Dental Care and went to see them about checking out why two of my molars were so sensitive and see if my chipped front tooth could be repaired. After a quick, but quite thorough examination, they told me pretty much the same thing my dentist back home had told me many years before. There was a reason I was having these ongoing problems and the solution they proposed was pretty much the same as what my old dentist had proposed, but with two major differences.
One, rather than ” rebuild ” both upper and lower teeth as he had proposed in his $44,000 plan, Desert Dental Care proposed rebuilding my upper teeth to change my bite and thus do away with the cause of the excessive wear, and Two, and this was a big, indeed the determining difference, instead of $44,000 to perform this work, their charge would be $3,560 ( that actually ended up being $4,260 when they discovered cavities under old fillings in two molars resulting in the need for two additional root canals and posts ). I decided to give it a go!
Over the next week and a half, I would have five appointments that included a total of 5 root canals, posts being inserted, one difficult extraction, grinding of all uppers and fitting for ten crowns and one four tooth bridge. Four different dentists worked on me at times and all were professional, thorough, and spoke reasonably good English, as I speak absolutely no Spanish. Everything they did was done in the same general manner as what my dentist back home had done, the equipment used, pretty much the same. The facilities are clean and all the folks there were personable and professional.
My only problem with them was in trying to get a copy of the original estimate and a final bill out of them. Here, there was a definite lack of professionalism. As far as payment goes, they accept personal checks, credit cards and cash. I opted to write checks on a pay as you go method, cutting them a couple of checks for $1000, then one for $2000, as we moved through the process, plus one final small check to cover the final balance. Paying by credit card would have included an exchange rate charge by the credit card bank whereas my checking account bank did not add anything for the 4 checks I wrote for services in Mexico.
I was disappointed in the hassle of obtaining paperwork from Desert Dental Care, but was quite pleased with the professionalism of their dental staff. I will forego recommending them to anyone until I see how the work holds up over the next six months or a year. Initially, I am pleased with the look and feel of the work they performed, we’ll have to wait and see how the work holds up over time.
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