Americans Saving Money By Getting Dental Work In Mexico

Americans already save money by purchasing prescription drugs from Canada and getting plastic surgery in South America. Now they’re crossing over to Mexican border towns for high-quality dentistry, which can cost over 60% less than comparable work in the U.S. Reuters notes that “a dental crown in the United States costs upward of $600 per tooth, compared to $190 or less in Mexico.”

“We’ve gone from a handful of patients when we started 2-1/2 years ago to 150 new patients a month,” said Joe Andel, an American who owns the Rio Dental clinic in Ciudad Juarez with his Mexican dentist wife, Jessica.

Rio Dental, which uses U.S. labs to make its crowns, picks patients up at the airport in El Paso, Texas, across the border and has treated people from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.

“The Internet makes this possible. It allows patients to find us and research us and shows we can do dental work of equal or superior quality to the United States,” Andel said.

“Americans go to Mexico for a cheaper perfect smile” [Reuters]

“Get Cheap Plastic Surgery In Buenos Aires”
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Xerloq says:

    Ugh. I hate dental work no matter which country it’s done in.

  2. clevershark says:

    “Rio Dental, which uses U.S. labs to make its crowns”…

    So the crowns are actually made in the US and imported into Mexico… and they still cost less than 1/3 of the US price?

  3. axiomatic says:

    This is more a result of the Dentist getting the MAX that they can out of an insurance company than an actual cost of materials or services.

    American insurance is breaking the US.

  4. Alexander says:

    My friend swears by this. He even gets his teeth cleaning down there which seems like a ridiculous stretch to me. I’m assuming all these dentists are certified by some Mexican health board? I’d hate to think what happens if they botch something though.

  5. @axiomatic: Agreed.

    The dentist, along side thethe Veterinarians, is the biggest crook in the world.

  6. arch05 says:

    @alexander: “Mexican health board”.
    Are you serious? That’s a helluva laugh.

  7. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    And after you’re done, you can get a pack of Chiclets.

  8. KernelPanic says:

    If your in San Diego go here. They do good work and are just a few minutes from the border in Tijuana.



  9. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    And, when you’re done, you can get a pack of chiclets.

  10. Zgeg says:

    WTF is wrong with this country.. If this doesn’t make you mad than you are not paying attention.. PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THE COUNTRY TO FIND AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE!!! WTF is wrong with this country… I’m moving back to Norway.. Screw this place!!!!

  11. Spamwich says:

    I’m sure a certified dental professional is just as good in Mexico as any other industrialized nation, but I’d be more worried about the probable lack of legal recourse in case something did go wrong (as it can anywhere).

  12. Spamwich says:

    @arch05: Not all Mexicans grow fruit for a living, believe it or not.

  13. ekthesy says:

    It’s not just for dental care. As has been well-publicized, Americans are going to Thailand, India, and the Philippines for more major surgeries as well. A lot of cosmetic procedures, but also stuff like hip replacements. The doctors are top-notch and the facilities are better than US hospitals, some are luxury-hotel level. Private rooms, personal nurses, etc.

    And the best part is it’s all out of pocket. No messy insurance battles. The global economy at work.

  14. MercuryPDX says:

    @clevershark: My guess? Mark-up for either insurance purposes or dentist profit.

  15. arch05 says:

    @Spamwich: You’re talking to one, Einstein. So before you open your bigoted mouth again, you might want to come down here, live in Texas for a while, & see these ‘dentists’ that people are going to.

  16. cindel says:

    Dental insurance is a joke. My dentist told me that I had to paid up $600 for extractions; that’s with Insurance. How much would I pay if I went to Mexico?

  17. laserjobs says:

    I have had my teeth done in Argentina and they did an excellent job at at least 1/3 the price in the US at the time. If I ever want medical treatment not covered by my health insurance I will have no quams to make a trip to South East Asia.

    However I have seen a lot of coupons for dentists around my area offering some great deals for frist time clients.

  18. Franklin Comes Alive! says:


    What exactly did Spamwich say that was bigoted?

  19. Spamwich says:

    @arch05: Bigoted? Against whom? Perhaps you should look these words up before you try using them.

  20. warf0x0r says:

    @Zgeg: Why not just go back to space Err?
    or Boston?

  21. arch05 says:

    @Franklin Comes Alive!: Somewhere in that brain of his/hers, the first thing they think of in connection to Mexicans is migrant labor.

    BTW, we don’t grow it, we pick it.

  22. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Zgeg: Norway? Forget Norway. More like SNOREway. I’m going to Kenya. They got lions.

  23. warf0x0r says:

    might help you a bit.

  24. arch05 says:

    @Spamwich: Perhaps you should speak about something you know.

  25. arch05 says:

    @warf0x0r: You might use that to look up the word ‘douchebag’.

  26. tdatl says:

    not sure about Mexico, but an Indian friend needed dental work that would cost about $2500 in the US. He waited and got it done in India for $150.

  27. Joafu says:

    Cut the insurance that medical institutions and doctors have to pay in order to practice and America will retain its medical staff. Or we could go to a universal health system so that everyone will bring their business to Mexico, including the providers. If America wants to climb back up the healthcare rankings, we need to cut frivolous lawsuits.

  28. beavis88 says:

    @Chris Walters: writing “X% less than” makes baby jebus cry. Seriously. Recommended alternatives would be:

    – Procedures in Mexico cost as little as 30% the price of the same procedure in the US

    – Procedures in the US are as much as 300% the cost of the same procedure in Mexico

    – Procedures in the US are as much as three times the cost of the same procedure in Mexico

    All, in my opinion, much clearer than “60% less than”….


  29. Here’s a consumerist move.
    Find a mexican dentist doing high quality work in Mexico and getting his crowns from a US lab. With an attractive price schedule. He needs to be located in some place in Mexico you actually want to go to, like Cozumel. Then, figure your cost savings, and bookend a trip around your procedure (molding and later crowning) using TravelZoo or some other nice vacation deal site. If you do this for all of your major dental needs, you will never hate having to get dental work again.

    Now, if there were only top quality, cheap dentists in Aruba!

  30. forgottenpassword says:

    Its the miserable insurance companies that’s the problem. My dentist’s receptionist told me that it was like pulling teeth to get the insurance companies to pay. Often times they have to submit & then resubmit over & over again to get even the simplest things paid for by the dental insurance companies.

    IF I lived near the Mex border…. I wouldnt hesitate to get my teeth fixed there.

  31. hypnotik_jello says:

    @arch05: I looked it up and there was a picture of you.

  32. parad0x360 says:

    im getting a $1500 ($500 cost to me) route canal on Friday morning. Maybe instead i should buy a plane ticket to Mexico!

  33. azntg says:

    Welcome to the Commuting States of America. Americans will travel extensive distances to go to work. They’ll also travel extensive distances to get basic needs taken care of.

    Frankly, I thought people leaving the country to get quality health care was a not-so-quiet secret.

    Face it, health care in the US isn’t worth it. It’s all profits and lawsuit motivated. You know it’s a major problem when doctors cannot do the “right thing” because of fear of lawsuits. You know it’s a major problem when people have to decide between insolvency and healthcare, especially with the capabilities that America collectively has. They may not have a good “de jure” safeguards, but at least through reputation and other de facto factors, other countries have simply gotten those parts down better.

  34. bohemian says:

    My dad got his bridge replaced while they were down in TX for the winter visiting friends. He said it was a nice clinic, the dentist knew what she was doing and it cost them pocket change. If the place had been scary or sketchy my mom would still be complaining about it years later. They stopped and picked up some of their prescriptions for about 1/10th of what they normally cost. If you want the scoop on where to go ask a bunch of senior citizens or cruise some of the seniors sights. I found a bunch of people that live in retirement places in AZ & TX pointing out the nice and reliable places over the border to get meds and dental services.

    I would seriously consider going to India if I needed something really expensive done surgery wise. The plane ticket would probably cost less than an MRI.

  35. balthisar says:

    @arch05: My wife is a Dentist from Mexico. (Now that she lives with me in the USA, she doesn’t practice, though.) There are state regulations and Dental Associations and certifications just as there are in US states.

    @Spamwich: Lawsuits in Mexican courts. Language may be a barrier, though. My wife was sued once, but by an ex-employee, not a patient ;).

    She (my wife) is actually an alumnus from the only Mexican dental school that’s automatically accepted in the United States (California) as credible for certification without craploads of extra courses. We’re also friends with some not-unimportant people in the Mexican Dental Association. As such, references for good dentists are never a problem for us, and it’s often someone she knows.

  36. Spamwich says:

    @parad0x360: I hear a lot of people are doing that for surgeries, and since you’re not recommended to fly after some surgeries, they use the money they save to help them recoup at a nice resort for a while :)

  37. nequam says:

    @forgottenpassword: I’ll apologize in advance … but, if getting payment is like pulling teeth, it should be a breeze for a dentist’s office!!

    Again, I am so sorry.

  38. Spamwich says:

    @azntg: It’s interesting that the opposite happens too. Wait times for some (actually most non-emergency) surgeries are pretty lousy in Canada so people who can afford it will fly down to the US to pay out of pocket. It’s looked at unfavourably by some because it undermines the basic workings of universal health care, but I can’t say I blame anyone who needs treatment for doing what they have to in order to get it.

  39. timmus says:

    I was just thinking about how this is probably driving up the cost of medical care in Mexico, and making it harder for poor Mexicans to get the care they need. Ah well, I guess they’ll sneak across the border and earn some higher wages here.

  40. timmus says:

    @Spamwich: Well, at least in Canada the people have a choice to have it free or pay out the yin-yang. That would be nice. Here in the U.S. we just pay out the yin-yang.

  41. warf0x0r says:

    @arch05: Hrm… lets see here standard definition and… a picture with the caption arch05… ah yes the picture really emphasizes the definition


  42. Monoplex says:

    Yeah. I’m sure Mexican dentists have microscopes, apex finders (to make sure the canals are properly cleaned), and the state of the art pharmaceuticals or lasers to ensure the bacteria is killed.

    On second thought, so what if the root canal is done with decades-old methodology? Heck, it’s cheaper.

    There are plenty of Texas dentists who make lots and lots of money fixing what Mexican dentists have caused or exacerbated. And it’s always more expensive trying to fix someone else’s work than to do it right in the first place.

    And for those who says their dental work done outside the U.S. was fine, what criteria are you using to decide if the work was quality or not? Unless you know what to look for and have access to loupes and/or an x-ray, you really can’t judge.

  43. Spamwich says:

    @timmus: True, I will take the Canadian system over the American any day, but the Canadian system is far from perfect. Micheal Moore pissed off a lot of Canadians with his movie Sicko by portraying Canada as some sort of health care utopia.

  44. Monoplex says:

    The Canadian system of healthcare will never fly in The U.S. as American don’t have the stomach to ration healthcare. IMHO.

  45. trujunglist says:

    I’ve heard some horror stories from people I know that went across the border in Arizona to get dentistry work done. It’s definitely a good idea to check into who you are seeing before you go and make sure that it’s all legit and that you’ll get good work for your money. You’d hate to come back across with dentures that don’t fit but still cost you a bunch of money (albeit, 1/2 less than you’d have paid), right?

  46. samurailynn says:

    I used to work with a Chinese guy who would actually fly back to China for dental work. He said the dentists were better – everything was done with lasers, so there was no pain from drilling, and it was cheaper for him to fly there and get the work done than to just have any kind of major stuff done in the US.

  47. Gorky says:

    Yeah, like Id go to a 3rd world country for healthcare. Its just like anything else, you get what you pay for. You can pay more for a nice sterilized room with a quality dentist or you can go sit on a steel chair and have some guy who learned dentistry by reading a book in a library with a pair of pliers pull your teeth for a lot less money

  48. arch05 says:

    @hypnotik_jello: That is the most hilarious thing I’ve heard, in ever. Fuck off.

  49. arch05 says:

    @warf0x0r: Fuck off as well, 14 year old.

  50. arch05 says:

    @balthisar: Of course there are regulations in some parts. But the majority of Mexico is a backwards, lawless, disgusting place. Fun for spring break. For healthcare? Not so much.

  51. MDSasquatch says:

    my $0.02:

    I was in San Diego this past December and took a trip down to TJ while I was there. I can promise you this: I would not choose it as a place for dental work.

    I believe this: you get what you pay for; if it is so cheap there, they have to be cutting corners somewhere.


    Hey, they might do great work, but not on me!

  52. FightOnTrojans says:

    My dad does this. We live in the LA area and he’ll go down to TJ when he needs work done. The dentist is his cousin, so he knows he’s not getting scammed.

    As far as dentists being crooks? I can only relate my recent experience. I went to the dentist and was told I needed my wisdom teeth pulled, the next time their oral surgeon would be in would be in two weeks, here’s your appointment time. I asked how much it was going to cost, and I was told something over $1,200. I have insurance so I assumed she that was how much it was total, but she said that their surgeon wasn’t a part of my insurance program, so I would have to pay the full amount. So I asked if there was a surgeon that was covered by my insurance. She said yes, but they would have to submit my x-rays to the insurance for approval, it would take forever, blah blah blah. Told her to submit the request. End of story, I paid $190 total to have two wisdom teeth extracted, where my dentist wanted to charge me over $1,200. My wife paid $340 for the same procedure, same insurance, same dentist, different oral surgeon. Crooks? Nah. I think dental offices should be like fast food joints, have all the prices posted (before insurance kicks in) then they should provide you with a breakdown of what they charge, what the insurance pays, what your co-pay is, and what they eat. Then, and only then, will I begin to trust them. Otherwise, I treat them the same way I treat car salesmen.

  53. mandarin says:

    You can get sex change operations in Thailand too…

  54. nealb says:

    @axiomatic: “This is more a result of the Dentist getting the MAX that they can out of an insurance company than an actual cost of materials or services.
    American insurance is breaking the US. “

    Dentists (and any health provider) definitely get the max they can out of any insurance company. It’s obviously the goal of insurance companies to pay as little as possible in order to maximize profits. Each dentist has a specific fee schedule which applies to all patients regardless of insurance coverage. When the dentist submits the record to the company for payment, it’s usually not fully covered. Say a $1200 root canal was performed, and the insurance company only agrees to a max of $900 per root canal. Most dentists I know do not pass that extra $300 on to their patients–they just take it as a loss (not a total loss, of course, they get a bit of profit but waive the $300 the patient would otherwise owe).

    @AngrySicilian: Agreed.
    The dentist, along side thethe Veterinarians, is the biggest crook in the world.

    Not true, about dentists anyway. The average dentist pays 65% in overhead, so only 35% of income is profit. Very large multi-doctor practices may get that down to 55-60% overhead, but that’s about max. Take the $600 vs. $150 crown quoted above. A U.S. dentist, on average, would make $210 doing that $600 crown, the other $390 is overhead. The Mexican dentist on the other hand probably pays way lower overhead for materials and assistant labor. Your dentist is not robbing you, U.S. manufacturers. For example, one little tray of impression material for making a mold of half your mouth is $20-$30. Every little bit of tooth-colored filling is $75-$100. The average dentist spends $75 in disposable supplies just to prepare for every patient that sits in the chair, even if no treatment is performed.

  55. nealb says:

    @nealb: That should read: “U.S. manufacturers are.”

  56. Monoplex says:

    You paid $190 -after insurance- for the work. Your out-of-network dentist was just asking for the payment upfront. Assuming a typical 80% reimbursement rate for extractions, you ended up spending about $50 less by going to an in-network dentist. Woo-hoo.

    Yeah. A whole $50. That’s worth always second-guessing health care professionals.

  57. nealb says:

    @FightOnTrojans: Any dentist should be able to provide you with a breakdown of exactly what they charge. You shouldn’t agree to any procedure if you don’t know what it costs. As for what insurance covers and what your co-pay is… that’s your responsibility. Why should any health provider keep track of every health coverage plan in America? really?

  58. spinachdip says:

    @Spamwich: My understanding was that the wait time for procedures in Canada tends to get overstated, since the anecdotes are often of patients who live in remote areas with very few specialists. I haven’t heard anything about patients in, say, Toronto or Montreal dealing with crazy wait times.

    @Monoplex: Not trying to antagonize or anything, honest question – what does “rationing healthcare” mean? I’ve often heard this phrase from anti-national healthcare types (who generally don’t understand how healthcare works in France or Germany), but I never got a satisfactory explanation. I have a feeling Americans will be okay with “socialist medicine” once the awful truth gets out, i.e. lower cost (tax and non-tax expenses combined), fewer missed days from work for illness, fewer amenable deaths.

  59. Spamwich says:

    @spinachdip: I think the people in remote areas get doubly screwed in that they have to travel to even see a specialist. But in general, yes, I think those of us in major urban centres are better off in that respect.

  60. PeteRR says:

    How timely. I had a peridontal cleaning done at Christmas time when I visited San Miguel de Allende. I’d had it done the previous year in the US. Cost: $760. The cost for the same procedure in a clean professional environment by an English-speaking Dentist:
    610 pesos or approx $57. I’ve already made my appointment for my next visist in July.

  61. FightOnTrojans says:

    @Monoplex: That wasn’t what they said, they said that I had to pay the full amount because their oral surgeon wasn’t covered. No mention of out-of-network vs. in-network. The dentist I was going to is in-network. Are you stating that we should just blindly do whatever we are told in a dentist office? I did not second-guess the diagnosis or recommended procedure, just the amount I had to pay since I knew my insurance covered the procedure. In my head I was already figuring about $200 (I had looked at my EOB earlier that day) and when their $1,200 didn’t jibe with the figure in my head, the alarms went off. Why should I be ridiculed for being a smart consumer? I saved $50. If you believe in the your time is money philosophy, I spent less than 5 minutes in conversation with the office person (not the dentist) and saved $50. That’s 5 minutes well worth it.

  62. Monoplex says:

    “Rationing Healthcare” means denying expensive procedures to people with poor prognosis. If you want the $100,000 cancer treatment that only has an 8% chance of extending your life, fine, but the public isn’t going to pay for it.

    I think this is perfectly reasonable, BTW.

  63. Monoplex says:

    @FightOnTrojans: Are you saying that your dental policy has no out-of-network benefits for extractions? That’s the only way your out-of-pocket would be the $1.2K.

    As far as blindly accepting what the dentist or doctor tells you, that’s a big n-o. That, however, is a long way from starting things off with distrust a forethought. If you don’t feel you can trust your dentist or doctor, you really should seek a different practitioner.

    For $50, it’d be worth for me to have it performed by someone I have a relationship with. But that’s me. YMMV.

  64. Monoplex says:

    @PeteRR: Great! Out of curiosity, how long were you numb for afterwards?

  65. nealb says:

    @Monoplex: “Rationing Healthcare” means denying expensive procedures to people with poor prognosis. If you want the $100,000 cancer treatment that only has an 8% chance of extending your life, fine, but the public isn’t going to pay for it.

    Exactly. People out there are sadly mistaken about exactly what a socialized healthcare system would provide. If the U.S. gov’t was paying for your dentistry, a lot of times it’s not going to cover procedures you might consider “necessary.” Take for instance a badly decayed front tooth. If a dentist determines it has about a 50% chance of lasting a few years with a root canal/crown for $1,500, do you think the U.S. gov’t is gonna give you $1,500 to fix that tooth? No, they’re gonna deny the claim and make you get it pulled for a few hundred bucks or pay the $1,500 out of pocket. As a consequence, “elective procedures” (like keeping your full set of front teeth in that example) will rise in costs to compensate. So the $1500 root canal/crown might be more like $2500. Socialized health care doesn’t just mean you can walk into any health care office any time and get cutting-edge, idealized treatment any time you want it without worrying about costs.

  66. FightOnTrojans says:

    @nealb: I agree with you. However, not all dental offices operate the same way. At one office, I was just told what the total was. When I asked for a breakdown of the charges, I got back a blank stare, then she wrote it down on a piece of scratch-paper. Again, just the total amount, but not everything that went into it. Seriously. Finally, I told her I wanted to know what went into that total, how did they arrive at that amount, so I could compare it with the EOB I had to verify if it was accurate or not. At the oral surgeon’s office, they at least showed me their billing screen on the computer. It showed me the total amount, how much the insurance pays, and how much my co-pay was. I didn’t even have to ask for this. Since everything was upfront, there was nothing to question.

  67. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Cut it out.

  68. omfpe says:

    I think it really depends on where you go. You can get shoddy work in the US, but there’s good recourse in the unlikely event that that happens.

    One of the big things that is different is the materials. Sure, some people are happy with work they have done abroad, but they have no idea they’re getting, for instance, crowns made with materials the ADA has banned. Sure they’re cheaper. They also give the lab technicians who make them beryllosis. They also don’t polish as well, so they retain plaque better, leading to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

    Want a measure of education? In December 2006, under 15% of US students failed the 2nd year national boards. 79% of students at unaccredited (read – foreign) schools failed.
    In the computerized version that year, it was 10% vs 42%.
    This year, it was 5% vs 38%. And these are the people from foreign schools who are hoping to come to the US and practice. What about the people who go to those schools and stay in the area?

    The bottom line is that their education is nowhere near what ours is.

    In sum, sure, you might be able to get good treatment abroad. But there’s a really good chance that you won’t, and you likely won’t know about it until your regular dentist has to fix the problems.

  69. @omfpe: As a 4th year dental student, and one who has taken and passed NBDE Part II, where did you get those failure rates?

  70. FightOnTrojans says:

    @Monoplex: It was the first time in many years that I had been to see any dentist, so there wasn’t any “relationship” to speak of. Every time I go to this office, I see a different dentist (and staff), so it is hard to try and build any kind of relationship. Also, the dentist was not the oral surgeon, so still no “relationship.” The oral surgeon and staff that ended up “yanking my wizzies out” (as he and his staff called it) were far friendlier, took some time to actually talk to me, and I came away with a better impression of them than the office that referred me. So, maybe you are right. Maybe the dental office I go to has soured me because out-the-gate I got the feeling they were trying to rip me off and I should go elsewhere since I don’t trust them. Thanks for the advice.

    I get the feeling you either a) work for a dentist, b) are married to a dentist, c) are a dentist, or d) are studying to be a dentist.

  71. spinachdip says:

    @Spamwich: My point, which I don’t think was clear, was that national healthcare isn’t causing the delays, but more the geography and population density. As a point of comparison, I had to shop around for doctors because my work insurance happens to be the much maligned UnitedHealth, and I got a lot of “Sorry, we don’t take that any more”.

    @Monoplex: Gotcha. But that happens under the current US system too, though not so much because of the chance of survival, but because for insurance companies, defending themselves in court, even if comes to that, is cheaper than actually providing coverage. I’ll take a bureaucrat over an accountant.

  72. mikelotus says:

    @axiomatic: right, if they take my insurance, the cost is about $250 a crown. if they don’t its half of $750. insurance’s fault.

  73. mikelotus says:

    @omfpe: yea, i would like to see a citation to that information. it sounds wrong to me too.

  74. brarian says:

    @Monoplex: “Rationing Healthcare” means denying expensive procedures to people with poor prognosis. If you want the $100,000 cancer treatment that only has an 8% chance of extending your life, fine, but the public isn’t going to pay for it.

    How is that much different than what your typical insurance plan would do? They tend not to like to pay for procedures that are highly unlikely to improve prognosis, either. The insurance company, your employer and, by extension, your fellow plan members aren’t going to pay for it, either.

  75. Monoplex says:

    My wife and I have a dental practice (she’s the dentist and I do the business end of things).We see new patients that had poorly done fillings that have left the patient in pain, needing a root canal and crown. We’ve seen patients more often than I can count who have gone in for “cleanings” regularly that have periodontal disease to point that they’ve lost bone. And the list goes on. . .

    These patients had no idea what sort of care they were getting. All they knew was if it hurt and how much much did it cost. If i were looking for a dentist, I ask friends for recommendations and then go the one with a F.A.G.D. or M.A.G.D. after their name. Those initials signify your dentist has kept their education far more current than typical.

    BTW, high-quality classes can easily run several thousand dollars a session. People who are only charging $500 for a crown or are in-network for -crappy- insurance aren’t the ones attending these classes.

    On another note, I thought it kind of odd that your dentist would be doing a wisdom tooth extraction. Any out-of-network specialist is going to require payment upfront (as they’re not likely to see you again).

  76. PeteRR says:

    @Monoplex: No anesthetic, no numbness. I have a pretty high threshold for pain and told her I didn’t need any.

  77. balthisar says:

    @Monoplex: They do. I bought an Apex Rootfinder here in the States for a Mexican endodontist who wanted a new one at half price. Not a border dentist, by the way (see below).

    @arch05: That’s not true at all. Most of Mexico has the rule of law. Border towns, though, are shit holes, and I say that as someone who genuinely likes the country as a whole. Consider that 20% of the population is middle class, you know, like you and I are. Do you think they all put up with 3d world conditions? The poor (actually everyone) is guaranteed universal health coverage in Mexico per its constitution. Problem is, no one pays taxes, so it’s underfunded. If you use the public health system, you’re likely to get substandard care (the universal treatment is yanking out your teeth). If you go to a border town dentist specializing in Americans, it’ll be comparable to going to a border town restaurant specializing in Americans. ;-) What you want to do is find a private hospital and deal with doctors/dentists associated with them. A good shortcut is to go to the Mexican Dental Association for references. There’s no doubt that you can find excellent dentists in Mexico. There’s no doubt you’ll run into bad dentists in the USA. You know?

    What’s neat is, if you go to a private hospital not associated with border-crossing gringos, you’ll probably pay even less, since of course, the gringo-border places are priced for what gringos are willing to pay!

  78. Monoplex says:

    @PeteRR: My guess is that they didn’t as far below the gumline as is called for by the modern protocols. We put aside as much as 90 minutes per quadrant (e.g., Upper Right, Lower Left). I’m going to guess, perhaps incorrectly, that they didn’t take nearly as long.

    @balthisar: I would certainly hope that anyone, in any country, calling themselves an endodontist would have an Apex Locator.

    I would personally go to health care in India before I’d go to health care in Mexico.

    On another, more ironic note, we had a woman in the practice whose husband just transfered over from Germany. She was in her late 30s-early 40s, black tooth in the front, dark lines along the edges of her crowns, and I forget how much non-cosmetic restoritive work she needed. So as she’s checking out and paying her bill, she complains about how much more expensive dental work is the U.S. vs Germany. No offense lady, but I thinks that perhaps it’s cheaper for a reason. :)

  79. PeteRR says:

    I was there for approx 2 hours. The initial perodontal cleaning in the States was longer, but I also hadn’t had my teethed cleaned for a few years(I’d been travelling full time fo work).

  80. pandroid says:

    I have gotten dental work done in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico – Laser whitening, porcelin veneer for cracked front tooth, and cleaning. Cost in US would have been about $1400. Cost in Mexico was $410. Not only was it cheaper, but the dentist was the gentlest dentist I’ve ever been to, and the work was actually superior to the previous veneer that I got done in the US (which was falling off at the time).

    There is some risk involved, but if you can get a recommendation for a dentist to go to (the parent of a friend gave me the name of my dentist), the reward may be well worth it. Definitely something that requires research and not just a drunken jaunt into Mexico, but for people without dental insurance, it can be a huge savings.

  81. arch05 says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: fo sho. fo sho fo sho. you see, the funny thing is, my back is on my…

  82. theblackdog says:

    This finally hits the news? I lived about 2 hours from the Mexican border, and at least half of the students and staff at my college would go to mexico to get dental work done and to get their eye exams, glasses, and/or contacts because it was so much cheaper.

  83. deadlizard says:

    Maybe people are starting to get smarter. Every time I go overseas on vacation I get a regular checkup at the doctor.

  84. synergy says:

    This isn’t news. Everyone I know has been doing it all my life. I turn 32 this year.

  85. jstonemo says:

    Dental care from a country that still hasn’t figured out how to sanitize drinking water? There is no way. Go to a dental school and get your work done. It is cheaper because you are being worked on by students.

  86. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    My mom had a growth on her left eyelid. She visited some family on the texas/mexico border and took one of my aunts across to visit her family doctor. My mom showed the doc the growth on her eyelid. He scheduled her for an appointment the next day. She gets there early, is treated like royalty, and she’s given something to drink (no extra charge). The wait time was 30 min. The doc applies topical anethesia, removes the growth, stitches it up and give my mom some topical penecillin. Total cost? 135.00. Not only that, the staff had my moms clothes dry cleaned and ready to go by the end of the operation (no extra charge, and believe me, my mom asked). It’s a damn shame she could’nt do the same here in the grand ‘ol USA without it costing god knows how much. I don’t blame people going to mexico to get medical stuff done. It’s a gamble, sure. However some people don’t mind the risk.

  87. yesteryear says:

    doesnt make sense when you add in the plane fare, hotel expenses, rental car and time off work.

  88. WolfDemon says:

    This is true. I have a friend who will be going down to Mexico to get dental work done sometime in the near future.

  89. reznicek111 says:

    “Medical tourism” in some form has been going on for a while: when I lived in northern New York, I traveled to Ontario for a procedure that – 20 years ago – cost only about one-fourth of what the procedure would have in the States, including full presurgical workups, anesthesia, and aftercare. This practice was fairly common in that area then. I knew many people who traveled across the border to Ontario or Quebec for elective surgery rather than pay many times more in, say, Albany or Rochester. Personally, I was very happy with the care and outcome. For better or worse, it’s just another form of outsourcing.

  90. magic8ball says:

    @Applekid: Yay Kenya! “Where the giraffes are, and the zebra …”

  91. Jaguares says:

    @arch05: Can you eat shit and die now? Thanks. And do Mexicans a favor and spare them of your frat boy douchery come spring break.

  92. Syrenia says:

    @Monoplex: And there are American dentists who botch their work. Unfortunately, I was a patient of one of them.

    This guy did poorly-fitted crowns on four front teeth and two years later I needed:
    * one root canal at the endodontist
    * three more root canals at another dentist
    * gum surgery to correct the margins that the first guy had screwed up before I could be fit with new crowns
    * four new crowns at my new regular dentist (who didn’t do root canals, hence the endodontist for the tricky one and another dentist for the three normal ones)
    * two veneers to hide the gum work

    Would I go to a dentist in Mexico? If I were in Mexico and needed a dentist, sure.

    Would I leave a good dentist to save money? I’d go hungry first.

  93. KJones says:


    The reason that Canadians in outlying areas wait longer for treatment is not a matter of quality of care. The problem is doctors only want to work in the urban centres.

    Just look at the US: How many rural doctors are foreigners because US-trained doctors want to work in the big cities? It’s the same thing.

  94. KJones says:


    You’ve obviously never used medical care in another country. The Philippines is “third world” and getting poorer, yet their quality of care is still good. As well, Indian doctors are hired in large numbers by foreign hospitals. So much for your uninformed theory.

    I’ve had treatment in a few countries (Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Japan), both medical and dental, and the only substandard one was Korean medical doctors. (Their dentists are excellent.)

    Korean “doctors” all attend the same cretinist – sorry, creationist – university which preaches “evolution is a lie”. They’re not scientists, they’re memorizers.

  95. SOOKE says:

    “Rationing Health Care” in Canada means waiting your turn. Your GP refers you to a specialist, which can take from 2-6 months. The specialist orders procedures, which can take weeks or months. Months later, the specialist reviews the test results with you at your next appointment. Finally, if he recommends surgery, the wait can be from a few days to years, depending on the urgency.

    Canadians waiting for non-life-threatening surgery can wait years for their number to come up. It is illegal for a GP to operate outside the public system. Many Canadians have trouble finding a GP willing to accept new patients.

    Canadian politicians often use private clinics themselves, while publicly denouncing “American-style” private care. Queue jumping for surgery is not unknown. A New Brunswick politician named Dalton Camp
    caused a furor in 1993 when he received a heart transplant at the age of 73.

  96. shoegazer says:

    OK someone up there mentioned the Philippines. I can tell you that procedures there are generally very high quality, and generally far cheaper even in private, high spec clinics. My wife had three wisdom tooth extractions done for about $200. Bear in mind this is moderately complex surgery – the dental surgeon had a light touch and there was little pain afterwards.

    Most “third world” countries provide excellent value – Cuba, the Philippines and Thailand in particular have better surgeons, doctors and specialists than the UK and the US. If they weren’t so good the medical tourism industry wouldn’t be doing so well now.

  97. Consumerista says:

    I live in Spain and had two root canals at a clinic run by my private insurance company (dental is not covered by Spain’s national health service). The insurance costs about 6 euros a month in addition to my medical insurance which costs less than 100 euros a month. For each root canal I paid about 80 euros. Cosmetic dentistry is a lot higher, though, and from what I’ve seen, not as well done. Spanish doctors tend to be more brusque and less gentle than doctors in the US, visits don’t last very long and there’s more of a no-nonsense approach, but it’s so much cheaper than in the US. As for the rationed healthcare argument, I’ve heard that if you go to a hospital in the US and tell them you don’t have insurance, the hospital is often less likely to provide you with all of the tests or procedures you may need, because it figures you’ll never pay for them. Either that or your insurance company forces you to ration your own care by refusing to pay for needed procedures. I have also used the Spanish national health service (though not for anything urgent) and the wait times aren’t that bad. Compare that with all of the people in the US who can’t even find a doctor because “the doctor is not accepting new patients at this time.”

  98. Monoplex says:

    There are bad U.S. Dentists (we’ve seen their work) and there are bad Mexican Dentists.

    Average them out, however, and seen where the median skill and knowledge level is.

    I really don’t have a personal stake in this as our practice busy enough that we’re building a 70% larger new office (with 3 microscopes and 3 surgical lasers, btw) just to keep up.

    I just want people to understand that a crown is not a crown nor is a root canal, a root canal. There can be a dramatic difference. Heck, we’ve even seen the results when U.S. Dentists who should have long since retired keep on practicing.

    Again, when you’re shopping for a dentist, all things being equal, look for F.A.G.D. or M.A.G.D. certification. It shows that the dentist has met criteria less than 4% general dentists qualify for and have to renew that qualification each year.

  99. Covaluxx says:

    just give me an ice skate a rock and a mirror.

  100. timsgm1418 says:

    I agree. I took my daughters to the dental school in Baltimore for braces and they got excellent care. Not only did a grad student do the work, but the professor checked everything they did. Plus they had to submit what they did each month in front of their peers. If I had taken them to a regular orthodontist I don’t think they would have had as up-to-date care as they did at the school and who checks the work of an independent orthodontist? The only bad side was taking an entire morning for the appointments but I save well over $5000, so well worth it@jstonemo:

  101. Monoplex says:

    An ice skate blade and a rock would just break your tooth in half. You’d be unlikely to feel any better.

    Dental schools can be great for those who have the time.

  102. arch05 says:

    @Jaguares: BAN USER LOCK THREAD.
    I’ll eat shit & die as soon as you STFU and start speaking to things you actually know about. Frat-boy douchery? Are you kidding? That’s the most hilarious thing yet on this thread, and that’s saying alot.

    Not only frat boys and their sorostitutes go on spring break.

    I’m sorry if you couldn’t get laid in college & now have a negative view of those more successful than you, but it’s not my problem BRAH.

  103. Monoplex says:

    Let’s not forget the critical and often neglected step of proper etching of the tooth to ensure micromechanical attachment. Ahem.

  104. gibbersome says:

    “Want a measure of education? In December 2006, under 15% of US students failed the 2nd year national boards. 79% of students at unaccredited (read – foreign) schools failed.
    In the computerized version that year, it was 10% vs 42%.
    This year, it was 5% vs 38%. And these are the people from foreign schools who are hoping to come to the US and practice. What about the people who go to those schools and stay in the area?

    The bottom line is that their education is nowhere near what ours is.”[/i]

    The reason why they fail is because the US education boards test material presented in a very different way that they’re used to. Furthermore, alot of them have the language barrier. Does that mean that their education is inferior? No, how good a doctor you become mostly depends on the student.

    I had fillings done abroad for a sixth of the cost and the dentist did a much better job than the one in the US did. There are good and bad doctors everywhere, thats why getting recommendations from knowledgeable sources is important.

    And being a medical student who’s visited and interacted with foreign medical graduates, I must say that the best doctors in the world come from some of the most unexpected places. I hold the Cuban medical education system in very high regard because students there are taught to do more with a lot less than American students.

  105. Monoplex says:

    @gibbersome: Lets assume clinical language skills are a secondary consideration. Dental boards have an awful lot of clinical involved; I’d be curious what the washout rate is for that.

    I’m curious as to what brings you to the conclusion that the foreign doctor did a better job than The U.S. one did? I do not mean this in the context of asking you to defend your opinion but rather I’m curious as what criteria you used to reach it.

  106. increaser says:

    I’ve had work done in Mexico with no problems. Free inspection, and a week later a $25 filling. I haven’t had any major work done, though I know many others who have and I’ve heard of no problems.

  107. lanabala says:

    I’ve had dental work in Mexico and I find myself very pleased. I didn’t trust going to the border, but I found Cancun Cosmetic Dentistry and believe me it is one of the best choices ever made. Cancun is awesome as well.