Reasonably priced dental care, prescription drugs and optometry services lure uninsured and senior Canadian and US travellers to this "quaint" Mexican border town where there are 300 dental clinics in about six square blocks. There are more dentists here per capita than anywhere else in the world. The town is so geared to dental patients, that the restaurants offer blended meals on request.
I totally get it when you consider how many people are uninsured dentally and are looking at $1300 for a crown in Canada, where in Algodones, the price ranges from $180 (porcelain on metal) to $375 (Cerec, a crown-in-a-day system or Zirconia crowns) each. Last year the Calgary Sun ran this article about dental tourism.
Our 24 year old son, insuranceless, was in need of major work. We did not quite enough research and plunged into a dental adventure. Algodones was a 2.5 hour drive from where we were staying in Palm Springs. I'll give you the ending first and the next post will be the do's and don'ts.
B had a total of six crowns, fewer than they wanted to do, but the x-rays supported the treatment plan for those six specific teeth. His discomfort afterwards required a visit to a dentist in Palm Springs and we were somewhat reassured that four of the six were done acceptably. One, however, will need to be replaced and can best be considered as a temporary requiring extra effort to be kept clean. The other required two seconds of adjusting for a more comfortable fit.
All in all, including the cost of the dentist in Palm Springs, who adjusted his bite to make him finally comfortable, and who did the restorative work on the two teeth that would have been crowned in Mexico, we got what we paid for, $7000 of Canadian dental work for $2000.
I would not recommend the clinic we used, one of the largest in Algodones, but they did their best for us after we requested a change in dentist and they discovered a mistake, including putting us up in their affiliated hotel, the only one in town, for three nights over New Year's. I would be glad to share more specifics, just leave a comment and I'll reply. It bears mention that I met many people in the waiting room over our eight days of dental treatment, who were repeat customers, and were happy with their work.
Our room in the Hacienda:
Making the best of a challenging situation, AKA killing the pain x 2, teeth and hand:
Completed vacation painting, thought the subject of olives and salsa was appropriate:
Los Algodones feels like a dental twilight zone. The litter in the street includes occasional discarded dental cotton rolls, floss and and some dropped anti-inflammatories. It feels very safe considering that thousands of people are walking around with cash in their pocket for major dental treatment. I would go again heeding the do's and don'ts in my next post.