Mexico's low costs make 'dental tourism' a growth industry
Most tourists won't even drink the tap water in Mexico for fear of water-borne illnesses, but it seems that doesn’t stop hordes of them from heading to Los Algodones, across the border from Yuma, Ariz., looking for inexpensive Mexican dentists to fix their teeth.
They make the trek from Alberta and other parts of Canada largely because their insurance, assuming they have any to begin with, requires them to pay a significant share of the costs of procedures beyond standard preventive care.
Needless to say, Canadians dentists suggest caution when travelling abroad for treatments because standards for training, licensing and care can vary widely.
But is it worth the trip? With more than 300 dentists in Los Algodones alone, how do you find a good one? And what happens when something goes wrong?
While reputable dentists in Mexico offer warranties of their work and/or materials, it's a long and costly trip back to have the dental work repaired and problems corrected. And there’s no shortage of horror stories floating around.
Yuma dentist Craig Barrows says he sees many disappointed patients after they had a bad experience in Los Algodones.
"I can give you example after example of patients who have permanent damage in some shape or form, and there's no recourse," he told the Edmonton Journal. "The amazing thing is the patients know it before they go, but they are willing to take that risk. They say: 'I knew what I was doing.' "
Phoenix-based Dayo Dental offers a free service to link patients with Mexican dentists, promising referred patients discounts, warranties and a door-to-door shuttle service.
Vinluan says Mexican dentists can offer services much more cheaply than their North American counterparts because the average Mexican dentist earns about a quarter of what American dentists bring in.
Lab costs, which make up a large portion of the cost of dental services, are also lower in Mexico than in the United States and Canada, he adds.
Is dental tourism for you? Have you ever built some low-cost dental work into your holiday plans?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
Posted by: K. Gordon | Jan 27, 2022 2:49:42 AM
Since I was visiting a friend in Ukraine who is also an MD with 5 different medical specialties, I decided to follow her advice and went to see a dentist here in southern Ukraine. I had 4 teeth repaired, 3 crowns and a bridge at a cost of $400. US, and am very pleased with the results. This would have been $4,000 at home. I know plenty of people, including myself, who have fallen victim to less than stellar dental work in North America, and aside from potential follow-up visit issues, am happy that I am not financing the latest BMW or SUV, 3 day work week, or property acquisition for my NA dentist, endodentist or periodentist. Dental insurance is a joke in NA as it never comes close to covering costs, and considering public subsidies to dental and medical schools, one has to question why this group of professionals is allowed to gouge the suffering public. The clinic I attended was modern, clean and efficient, and other than language, it could have been anywhere in NA. Except this dentist worked alone basically, without the help of a chair side assistant throughout the procedures. I would do it again, but advise performing some diligence checks before doing so.
Posted by: Jim | Jan 27, 2022 4:50:09 AM
This is a HORRIBLE idea. NAFTA is ONLY supposed to have the free trade impact the financial lives of middle class and lower people. Free trade isn't supposed to affect the lives of higher income people. This must STOP and laws must be put in place to prevent NAFTA and free trade from affecting higher earning people. Oh yeah dispite the slipshod and unnecessary work done here in Canada it's got to be better than those 'foreigners' do (well until they are workng from a Canadian Clinic).
PS for the Faux news followers, the preceding is a joke.
Posted by: Rose | Jan 27, 2022 8:28:34 AM
As a dentist practicing in Canada, I have seen so many patients that have had horrible treatment done in foreign countries. It is so disheartening for me when I have to show them that the cause of their pain and discomfort is poorly done dental treatment, often causing teeth to abcess, and need to be taken out. The biggest problem with many foreign countries is that there is no licensing body to ensure that dentists are properly trained. Therefore, it is a huge gamble when getting treatment elsewhere. Unfortunately, it a gamble that most patients end up losing. The cost of correcting the poor treatment ends up being more than what it would have cost to do the treatment properly in Canada in the first place.
Posted by: PAUL DENTIST | Jan 27, 2022 9:05:25 AM
AN OLD SAYING. THERE IS NOTHING THAT CANNOT BE DONE CHEAPER BY SOMEONE IN THIS WORLD AND THOSE THAT CONSIDER PRICE ONLY ARE THIS MANS LAWFUL PREY. CAVEAT EMPTOR FOLKS
Posted by: Annie | Jan 27, 2022 9:17:40 AM
Dentists in Canada are too expensive for minimal dental work. My own dentist is a daylight robber! He broke my partial plate when cleaning. I think he did it on purpose so I would have to renew it. Charged me $140 for cleaning and I don't have half of my teeth left due to bad teeth Not bad dental care or insufficient dental care.
Sure there are bad dentists abroad but there are some really bad one's right here in Canada.
If you can afford the trip and have a reference for a dentist I say......Go for it!
Posted by: Brian | Jan 27, 2022 10:26:14 AM
We are presently in Mexico, north of PV and like every other year we are getting our annual check up & cleaning(350 pesos/$32 Canadian) These people are exceptional. I am having 2 root canals, posts & crowns for 30 % of home(Sask). Canadians & Americans alike are flocking to these highly trained professionals because we are all sick & tired of being ripped off at home.This is the first year that I have had to have work done. Go for a check up & cleaning and no one invents work to be done at a crazy cost.We know a lot of people that frequent the 3 or 4 dentists in this area & I have not heard of any dissatisfied patients.There is nothing wrong with a "dental holiday". Another cerveza , please.
Posted by: Billy Bridger | Jan 27, 2022 11:00:28 AM
I highly recommend dental tourism. The dental work I've had done in Costa Rica has held up very well over the years and I would dare say superior to the work I've had done in Canada and the U.S. The dentists there explain the process to me as they proceed. I like to be included in what's happening and not treated like an idiot as NA dentists tend to do to their patients. I was quoted for my last treatment - a filling that had fallen out - $500 from a Florida dentist. For that price I not only had the work done but an all expense paid trip for 4 days.
Posted by: Bruce Hackert | Jan 27, 2022 11:12:33 AM
The only difference between a bank robber and a dentist is that the bank robber uses a gun, and the dentist uses his dental degree to steal from people.
Complaints about dentist are handled by the Royal College of Dental Surgerons, a self serving organization with the sole purpose to serve and protect.....DENTIST and the dental profession.
My previous dentist told me that I had severe gum disease and required extensive treatment. He also restored three teeth and splinted them together. I consulted two other dintist and was told that my gums are fine; and, they pointed out that splinting teeth together with a continuous filling is contrary to proper dental procedure.
After extensively pursuing the "College" I was told that my dentist would not respond to their enquires and there was little that they could do. I suggested that they charge him with contempt. In the end the dentist agreed to refund all monies paid to him and in return I would drop my complaint. WOW.
Posted by: Tyler Jones | Jan 27, 2022 11:32:37 AM
People, if you want to spend money and go on a holiday to get your teeth fixed go ahead, I have had people tell me they can get an dental implant for `1200 dollars in mexico, as a dentist the laboratory parts alone that I pay for with zero, zero mark up is 2000 dollars and an implant in Canada is roughly 3500 dollars so out of that the dentist makes about 500 dollars, which allows you to make a couple hundred thousand dollars a year for 12 years of training, secretaries in the oil and gas industry make that much on stock options, so as a dentist I feel no such guilt in what we charge, we simply can't do it for the cost of Mexicans, and we will repair our own work but not someone elses. For years of training and the stress of the job, health care providers are some of the lowest paid people in society, these are people who actually add value and cannot be replaced like most people who have jobs for doing nothing( middlemen, they are called).
Posted by: Clia | Jan 27, 2022 11:33:37 AM
You are one of the arrogant NA dentists fearing to lose business to other dentists that are not as greedy as you are. Your comments are extremely insulting and I could choose to sue you for being so ignorant about the subject and the statement you made. I just came back from Europe and had a filling done, a root canal and the cleaning in the most professional manner. We are talking about Romania. The cost was 50 dollars. How many hundreds of dollars would I have paid in your office? You are very snotty and feel superior just because you are born here, right? Wrong again. There is a licencing body there and the school is very serious and lasts five years at least. Dentists back home are as professionals as you are. There are good ones, bad ones, like in Canada and the States. I had two crowns done in Canada and I had to work months to pay the bill. What a rip off! Yes, your names should be: robbers! Shame on you for insulting schools, countries and professionals you don't know.
And Thank you MSN. Canada for writing this article about this pathetic bunch of robbers! Maybe, next time, you will think about writing one about vets and their practices in North America. Brothers in theft with the dentists!!
P.S. Rose, don't bother to respond, as I already know what you have to say. Good luck being in business in the next years, because we will never go to the dentist in this country!
Posted by: Tyler Jones | Jan 27, 2022 11:48:16 AM
I am not insulting other countries or their professionals, I am saying we, like other professionals will honor our own work not anyone elses, I am insulting people who think dentists are "robbers" because they have no idea how much dental practices in this country cost to run. And dentists seriously don't care if people go elsewhere, bottom line is we can't do service for any less.
Posted by: Clia | Jan 27, 2022 12:01:28 PM
You are lying. There is no reason to charge a patient for just seeing his or her teeth. Dentists overseas don't do that. I can add on and on. Yes, this is robbery at its finest and the majority on this forum see it this way. You are afraid and that is why you responded so quickly. And I was talking to Rose who said that there was no licencing body in other countries.That is an insult, based on ignorance. That is the reason doctors and dentists trained overseas (at least as good as you are) drive taxis in Canada. Because you protect yourselves big time. You want your piece of cake and eat it too. That is not going to happen. At least, you won't see a penny from my family. It will go to those who choose to help, truly help patients and not to rob them. Same goes for doctors in the States.
Posted by: Jeannette McLachlan | Jan 27, 2022 1:11:36 PM
I am having implants done by Dr Carlos Delgado Rubio in Los Algodones. I am 58 and I have never had such gentle, caring dental treatment in my life. It's a long process due to the bone grafts.My great canadian dentist extracted 16 teeth when i was 18.. which has left me with a great loss of bone. Another Canadian dentist was prepared to do bone (hip donor site) grafting and implants for $40,000. My Mexican (university professor, american citizen) dentist is doing lower implants, refused to do upper grafts and implants as he couldn't guarantee the quality of my life after this work would be done. So I have agreed to much less lower dental work at a cost of $7440.00 instead of 23,000.I was quoted by a Canadian dentist. I am happy with the service...I haven't been told once to "suck it up" and i am treated with the respect every dental patient deserves. I will still have my implants and 2 dentures.
Just wanted to share my experience and it's been excellent.
Posted by: swhappy | Jan 27, 2022 1:26:03 PM
While on vacation in Koh Samui, Thailand. My resort, bungalow compound was full of people there for dental work. Their vacation was paid for by the difference in price. Some people were from NA and the others from the EU. All were extremely happy with the quality of service and facilities. They were also estatic about the speed of the whole process, many said the time of xrays/moulds and other procedures which are done in spaced appointments over weeks back home were taken care of in an afternoon. For 10% of the cost back home. I think dentistry is alot like when laser eye surgery came out, they just threw 5000$ as the price, then it caught on and now it can be done for 700$. Why does a person who cleans your teeth deserve 60$ an hr?? Its legalized robbery.
Posted by: Tes | Jan 27, 2022 1:42:09 PM
I have a proposal: let's all stay in Canada, the United States, go to dentists here and sell our houses and all our assets to get our dental work done and pay for the luxury life style these jerks have!
Wouldn't that be a wonderful idea?
Posted by: steve | Jan 27, 2022 1:42:30 PM
The reason they charge so much is they have been ripping the insurance companies off for so long there is no turning back.They tell us what we need done and we like sheep believe everything they tell us. What choice do we have. We can't fix them ourselves.
Posted by: Darren Hargrave | Jan 27, 2022 3:03:22 PM
The negative comments left by individuals on this article really do reflect a lack of education. If you make a good income in Canada it makes you a "jerk" or a "robber".
Are Canadians and Americans aware that it costs over $250,000 for a dental degree in Canada? Are they aware that dental practices cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase and operate? DENTAL SUPPLIES AND STAFF ARE NOT PAID IN PESOS IN CANADA. Staff who work in Canadian dental practices are paid fair and competitive wages; they do not earn Mexican or Thai wages. Therefore, dentists have to charge more in Canada.
You also have to pay more for food, cars, vacations, and EVERYTHING ELSE IN CANADA!!
In addition, dentists do not rip off insurance companies. INSURANCE COMPANIES MAKE A LOT OF MONEY. If you do not believe this, please look at Manulife, SunLife, GreatWest Life's operating profits for the last ten years. Insurance companies rip off the people who pay into the insurance plans.
To Clia, Tyler Jones is correct. Most third world countries do not have a regulatory body. Some do but most do not. You are wrong.
Finally, a lot of third world dental offices do not have adequate sterilization practices. Hope you don't get hepatitis along with your cheap dental work!!
Posted by: CanadianDentist | Jan 27, 2022 3:11:20 PM
I'm a Canadian dentist and I've seen good and bad work from dentists abroad. Unfortunately, I've seen more bad than good work and some borderlining in awful work that would get their licensed pulled in the US or Canada. You get what you pay for essentially. The public do not understand the overhead costs in a dental office in Canada or the US. Most efficiently run offices have an average overhead between 60-70%. Do you think the dental assistant, laboratory fees, maintenance on equipment, and disposible sundries are free or cheap?
I'm not saying that every dentist is exceptional in Canada or the US, but do your research and don't expect a cheap fix for cheap work if something goes wrong. It usually will cost more to fix shoddy work than to do it properly in the first place and you might end up losing your tooth or teeth.
For the above poster, why does it cost $60/hr to clean your teeth? That doesn't even cover most overheads in a modern dental office. Hygienists get paid $40-50/hr and everytime a patient sits in the chair, it takes $20 to cover the costs of the sundries, sterilization and disposables. A proper sterization center costs over $30000, a new dental chair costs $40000-50000, salaries to the receptionist, assistant, lab tech, and hygienists aren't cheap either (I employ 12 people in my practice). I haven't even added up accountant fees, electrical fees, lease or mortgage on the office, maintenance costs on equipment, phone bill, reminder cards and postage, and the list goes on and on.
Don't assume we make lots of money and are subsidized like the medical students are. When a dental student graduates, it takes on average 10 years to pay off the student loans or bank loans. On average, students end up owing between $200000-300000 upon graduation. I ended up owing $225000. I spent 8 years diligently and frugally spending in university to get my dental degree. Don't tell me I earn too much when you haven't walked in my shoes. The grass isn't greener on the other side all the time.
Posted by: CanadianDentist | Jan 27, 2022 3:35:11 PM
By the way, search on youtube for "dentist of Jaipur." Sums it up for behind the scenes of alot of third world and developing country dentists.
If you don't like to pay the fees set by the governing bodies in each province or state, don't complain and go on your vacation and get your dental work done. If you think the dentist is gouging and lying to you about having a cavity and you don't feel any pain at that time, don't get the filling done and see what happens a few months or a year down the road. Most dentists in US and Canada are ethical, but some aren't like in any profession (ie: Priests, Police, Lawyers, Doctors, Auto Mechanic...etc). Talk to friends and family members who've been using a dentist they are happy with and can refer you to.
I see alot of patients who jump from office to office blaming problems on their previous dentists...isn't this a red flag that maybe it's not the dentists' problem and it's probably a longstanding problem with proper oral hygiene at home? Take care of your teeth by brushing and flossing daily and you'll never get a cavity ever again. Geez, I wonder why patients need to have all their teeth extracted at age 18 or if someone has a whack load of cavities every dental visit if they don't have a congenital or medical reason/problem?
The bottom line is that most dentists in NA are not crooks and a few will give us all a bad reputation. I've volunteered my own time and money to Guatemala and Mexico for dental mission trips and I give back to my community in terms of scholarships, school dontations, and church donations. I do feel fortunate I can help out others, but those who think we're are "robbers" should think twice before they jump to conclusions without making an informed decision.
Posted by: kirk campbell | Jan 27, 2022 3:36:37 PM
I'm a canadian with many friends that have had great service and quality dental work that was preformed in mexico. To let u know, most if not all dentists in Mexico are USA trained and certified through some of the best dental school in North American. It is easy to do your home work, as to check out mexciian dentist online. they will answer any question u have. Now going back to my best friend, he had all his teeth crowned for about $4500 dollars in mexico. the same type of dentaL work in canada would be $ 20.000 dollars. Here in canada I PERSONALLY have had some very poor work done by Canadian dentists and don't stand up to their quality of service. In Mexico dentist can't afford to do low quality workmanship, that is one of the many reasons why there is such a strong flow of Americans and Canadians heading to Mexico. Believs me, a dentist in American or Canada will always shoot down Mexician dentist. So the bottom line go to mexico it's better quality workmanship, safe and U CAN'T BEAT " the price". A dentist in Canada or the USA are simply a ripoff.Sso guess where i'm headed soon and returning with nice smile.