My husband and I both had extensive dental work done in Los Algodones, Mexico. We return annually for our check-ups.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Traveling to Mexico for Dental Care
If you've thought about traveling to Mexico for more affordable dental care, but don't know how to go about it, here's a detailed account of what to expect and how to prepare for your trip.
You will find information on finding a dentist, things you need to know about crossing the border, and how to pay for your dental care.
Affordable Dental Care in Los Algodones, Mexico
As affordable dental care becomes nearly impossible to find in the U.S. and Canada, more and more people are traveling to Mexico.
An estimated one-third of Americans do not have dental insurance, and half or more of dental costs are paid out of pocket. This is a sad situation for millions of people who cannot afford to pay for basic dental care. The cost of dental care in Mexico is just a fraction of the cost of dental work in the U.S.—sometimes up to 75% less!
Considering dental care in Mexico?
Are you considering going to Mexico for dental work but don’t know how to go about it? My husband and I were in the same situation last year. After some research, we decided to go to Los Algodones, which is just over the U.S. / Mexican border, about seven miles southwest of Yuma. There are over 350 dentists in Algodones within a 10-minute walk from the border. On an average January day, thousands of tourists walk across its international border to get affordable dental care, buy prescription drugs, eat great Mexican food and shop for local wares.
Dentists in Los Algodones, a Safe Mexican Town
While some of the large Mexican border towns have been in the news as unsafe, there are smaller towns along the border that specifically cater to the needs of Americans and Canadians looking for affordable dentists. Los Algodones is one of them. Let me share with you our experience there.
How to Prepare for Your Visit to Algodones Mexico
- Have a valid passport. First, be sure that you have your passport or passport card with you. While it’s very easy to walk across the border into Mexico without documentation, you will need a valid passport or passport card to return to the U.S.
- Take a list of your medications and allergies. If you are on any medications or if you are allergic to any medications, take a written list with you to show your dentist.
- Dress for comfort. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, and take sunglasses and a hat with a brim as you may have to wait in line as you cross the border back into the U.S. later in the day.
- Be prepared to pay cash or call ahead to see which credit cards are accepted. Most dentists will not take checks. If they do accept credit cards (many do not), you may be charged an additional fee.
Crossing the Border into Algodones Mexico
Los Algodones is just a few miles south of I-8. Since you don’t have to drive through a U.S. town to get there, it’s a very simple drive.
Should You Walk or Drive into Los Algodones?
Driving into Mexico: You can drive your own vehicle across the border, but you must purchase Mexican car insurance for your vehicle. You can buy this in the U.S. at the border or contact your own insurance company to check procedures. However, the streets of Algodones are extremely congested, and parking is very limited. We find it easier to walk across the border.
Walking into Algodones: it is much simpler to park on the U.S. side and walk a block or two from the parking lot to the border. There is a very large parking lot on the U.S. side of the border, which is operated by the Quechan Indian Nation. Parking is $5 for the day. All the dentists and most of the shopping and restaurants are within a 10-minute walk of that parking lot.
There is no bridge here, just a sidewalk from the parking lot into the town. As you walk into the town, there are clean public restrooms on your right. On the opposite side of the street and ahead of you are pharmacies, optical stores, and dentist's offices. On the next block, you will also see some restaurants and many vendors selling various goods.
Read More From Patientslounge
Choosing a Dentist in Algodones Mexico
You can choose your dentist when you walk into town if you wish. Some dental offices have their prices posted on billboards outside the offices. Many of the salespeople outside the dental offices will offer free examinations and estimates. Usually, you will have to pay for X-rays, though. In 2010, we paid $60 for a full mouth set of X-rays. In most cases, if you decide to have work done, it can be started that day and completed in a very short time. Although we intended to go to a dentist recommended by an acquaintance, we did not make an appointment ahead of time because we wanted to see the office before making a commitment. As it turned out, we liked what we saw and were able to have our initial exam and X-rays that morning.
Many people coming to Los Algodones without a personal recommendation like to use a service called Dentists of Algodones, which is based in Yuma. For a small fee, they will match you with a dentist according to the kind of work you want done and will make an appointment for you. They will send you a map of the town showing you where the office is located. When we selected a dentist, we chose one that was recommended by someone in our Escapees RV club, and we were very happy with the results.
What to Expect of Mexican Dentists
- Clean, sanitary, and comfortable offices. Although not luxuriously furnished, offices are comfortable and clean. Autoclave sterilization and sanitation procedures meet western standards, and equipment is up-to-date.
- Highly qualified dentists. Mexico takes pride in its Dental Colleges. Algodones dentists are educated in Mexico or the U.S., Many receive additional training in the United States and belong to the American Dental Association as well as being certified by the Mexican government.
- Full range of services. Dentists in Algodones do any kind of dental work that U.S. dentists do, including dental implants, bridges, root canals, simple fillings, dentures, and extractions.
- English-speaking dentists and staff. Most of the dentists speak English; some speak it better than others. There are always people in the office who are fluent in English to help explain anything that you might not understand or to help translate your questions to the dentist.
- Quick scheduling and completion of procedures. Generally, as much work as possible is done at one time to accommodate people who will only be in the area for a limited time.
- Specialists called for more complex work. If you will have complicated work done like root canals, a specialist is called in, and usually, you will need to make an appointment. Most work is done with a local anesthetic. If you prefer to be “put to sleep,” Mexican law requires that an anesthesiologist (M.D.) do it, and that is an added cost to your dental procedure. Of course, it is an added cost in the United States too.
During one three-hour visit, I had three root canals and prep work done for several crowns. While it was a long visit sitting in a dentist’s chair, it was a relief to have so much done at once. On my next visit a few days later, the permanent crowns were installed, and work on seven teeth was completed.
Sample of 2010 Prices:
Different dentists may charge somewhat differently, but this is a sample of prices for some of the dental work we had done in March 2010:
- X-rays …………………...$60
- Cleaning………………... $40
- Porcelain crown….....…$165
- Root canal ……….…….$180
- Post build up ………......$100
- 3 unit bridge …….....…..$445
Claims Against Dental Insurance Honored
One interesting thing to note is that we met several people at our dentist's office who had dental insurance but came to Mexico for their dental work because their portion of the cost of dental care was still unaffordable. Having work done in Mexico, they could still make a claim against their insurance, but the amount they paid out of pocket was reduced drastically.
Patients Come From All Over the U.S. and Canada
Another thing that surprised us was the distance that people traveled to have dental work done in Algodones. In our dentist's waiting room, we met people from Utah, Oregon, California, South Carolina, and Colorado, as well as several couples from Canada.
Dental Care in Algodones a Positive Experience
My husband and I both had extensive work done and have been happy with it so far. Now, two years later, we go back annually for our check-ups. We were assured at the time the work was done that it would be guaranteed and, in fact, met a few people who did come back to have adjustments or something repaired. This work was done free of charge.
Overall, we had a good experience with our dental care in Mexico. Our dentists and their staff were friendly, professional, and very kind and thoughtful. Have you ever been to a dentist before who gave you a hug when you left?
We enjoyed the town of Algodones and look forward to visiting again and trying out some of the restaurants that we missed on our last visit. In fact, we may be getting our new eyeglasses on our next visit!
Reentering the U.S. After Your Dental Appointment
If you are visiting Los Algodones during the winter, the busiest time of year, lines going back into the U.S. can be long. There are a few benches along the sidewalk where people wait in line, and you can sit for a while if you wish. If you or one of your party are disabled, the tourist police will escort you to the front of the line so that you don’t have to wait. We found it most comfortable to buy a bottle of water to drink while waiting, and the time went quickly as we chatted with other tourists.
Going Through Customs
U.S. Customs officials will ask to see your passport and ask what you are bringing across the border. They may ask to look into your bags. If you purchased medications, they will want to know what they are and possibly ask to see them. If you purchased drugs that require a prescription in Mexico, like narcotics, you will need to show your prescription. Don't forget that there is a limit on how much alcohol you can bring back to the U.S. in a 30-day period. Make sure you stay within that limit, or you will be asked to either forfeit your beverages or step out of line to return them to the store where they were purchased.
Once you get through customs, it’s a short walk back to the parking lot and to your car. There are clean restrooms available just outside the building on the way to the parking lot.
Please Leave Feedback
If you have had dental work done in Mexico, I would love to hear what you have to say about it. Also, I'd be happy to answer any additional questions you might have if you're considering going across the border for the first time.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: I am facing $15,000 in dental work, and I am considering dentures. What should I expect when it comes to extractions, fittings, placement, and counseling? How much do you estimate it would all cost to have it done in Mexico?
Answer: I'm sorry, I can't give you estimates or details on dental work. Your best bet would be to look up dentists in the town where you will have the work done and contact them directly. I think that most Mexican dentists would be very willing to give you an estimate on costs, but if you want exact prices, you will need to have an in-office exam.
Question: I am thirty-five-years-old, and my dentist and oral surgeon say I need complete upper and lower implants. Who do I go to in Algodones?
Answer: If you are thinking of going to Algodones, try an internet search on "dentists in Algodones." You should come up with a good list. I'd check the reviews and maybe even contact someone who has used a particular dentist.
© 2010 Stephanie Henkel
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on July 25, 2018:
Thanks for sharing your experience, Steve. It's always good to have personal recommendations.
Steve on July 22, 2018:
Im having a dental implant done to replace my bottom teeth. I went to sani group. They were very nice and professional. Wauted awhile for my initial exam. When they called me they explained the whole procedure. I was confident with them and decided to have them do it. Dr Hermes did the procedure. They put an IV in which relaxed me. Never felt a thing and before I knew it i was done. Saw Dr Karen after that to get an impression done. Returned the next day and Dr Karen put my temorary plate in. I can go back after 4 to 6 months to have my permanent implant installed. Overall experience was very good.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 13, 2018:
If you do some research on the internet for dentists in Los Algodones, you can get names and contact information of good Mexican dentists. Some will post prices, others you'll have to call. If you are close enough, you can go in person to get an estimate.
FreeBird on January 10, 2018:
I am a 51 year old woman in need of both top & bottom dental implants. How do I find out the cost? I have had dentures for approximately 25 years and I have never been able to wear the bottom. I Love to smile. But for the most part, I avoid being around people, due to "No" confidence.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 12, 2017:
Greg - There are links on that site to six or eight different dentists. I hope that you got quotes from several before getting upset. In my experience, prices have always been within reason and work done has been good quality, though I have not had veneers. Just because you did not like the quote, does not mean the site is a sham. As Mexican dentists become more in demand, prices are rising along the border, but I think that they are still lower than prices in the US. I still believe that this website is a good site to find a reliable dentist in Algodones.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 12, 2017:
Jayla - I know that sometimes things go bad with dental work, and I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience when most people have very positive experiences. I don't know of a specific website where you can complain, but I hope that you did go back to the dentist who did the original work and tell them what happened. You can go to one of the RV discussion boards and mention the name of the dentist where you had unsatisfactory work done.
Greg on September 11, 2017:
I inquired with using the link above "Dentists of Algodones" and received an outrageous quote on Veneers. He first tried to talk me out of them then quoted really high. I'll look elsewhere and just want people to know that the link is a sham.
Jayla on September 09, 2017:
Is there a website where I can file a complaint/claim about bad dental work in Algodones? I spent $5000 on really bad dental work root canals, etc and they left abcess and now I had to have those crowns extracted. Please someone advise.
Elaine singletary on October 28, 2016:
Have been to Sas Algadones several times for dental work.very good experience and plan to return to same Dr Ramos
KonaGirl from New York on November 12, 2015:
Thanks for the information. It is very helpful. My husband and I are considering this option.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 05, 2013:
Beth Ann - No, I don't know if the pharmacies are open on Christmas Day. My guess would be that they are closed, but you might be able to call one of them and ask. The one whose name I remember is The Purple Pharmacy and I know they do have a website with a phone number.
Beth Ann Flanigan on December 05, 2013:
Do you know if the Pharmacies in Los Algodones are open on Christmas Day?
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 13, 2013:
The dentist that we went to used mouthwash for rinsing and did not use water for flushing. The water in the front office was bottled water. I'm sure they use tap water for other things like washing their hands, but I've never heard of anyone having a problem as a result of the water. I'm sure that's not something you would have to worry about. When we were in Algodones, we also stopped for drinks and had lunch. We did buy bottled water to drink, but we do that in the U.S., too! In fact, we are currently near the border town of Palomas near Deming, NM and will be going over to have lunch today! Mmmmm.....
Sharon on November 12, 2013:
That was great posting, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing. We too are planning for a trip to Los Algodones for dental work. Do you know if they use ordinary tap water for their patients' dental work? and would it be safe?
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 14, 2013:
Hello Jazz2015 - My husband and I went to the Bernal Dental Clinic in Algodones. At the time, there were two dentists working in the Bernal Clinic, but I believe that one of them may have left to set up his own practice. There are also many other good dentists in Algodones, though I don't have names to recommend from personal experience. Good luck!
jazz2015 on January 14, 2013:
I'm considering getting dental work done. Would like to know the name of the dentist you visited?
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on June 04, 2012:
Sam N - Many people go to Mexico to have their teeth fixed, dentures made and for cosmetic dentistry. Prices are dramatically lower and the work is generally excellent. I'm glad you found my article as you conducted your research. Thanks for commenting!
Sam N on June 04, 2012:
Hi Stephanie! I have often heard of people going down to Mexico to get cosmetic dentistry done, but I hadn't ever considered it. The first time I even thought it was a possibility was when I visited www.utahvalleydentallab.com/products and saw how inexpensive it was. Naturally I did more research and that brought me to your site. Thanks for the post!
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 14, 2012:
Hi Michele, Good luck with your move to Arizona! I know that there is a lot of discussion about getting dental work done in Mexico, but I personally know many people who do it and are very satisfied. As far as I know, Algodones is still doing a booming business as U.S. and Canadian citizens cross the border to get dental work done, but it never hurts to check with some local people to get their recommendations. Thanks so much for your positive feedback!
MicheleB on February 13, 2012:
Wow, love the info that you have provided here!! So many negative comments are on the internet and I have found that most are made by US dentists that seem to keep referencing the same "one patient". My husband and I are getting ready to move to Arizona and are excited to see all there is to see, as well as get some dental work done in Algodones! Thank you!
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on November 09, 2011:
Tamron - I'm glad you found this site on Afordable Dentists in Algodones and that it answered questions you had about getting dental work done in Mexico. Thanks for tracking it down and for your comments!
tamron on November 09, 2011:
Thanks for answering my question on Webanswers that is how I found your hub with lots of great info. Thanks!
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 08, 2011:
Barb, To contact me through HubPages, just go to the top of this page. Scroll down the right side of the page. Underneath my profile picture and below the first ad, there's a box that says, "Read more hubs by Stephanie Henkel" and then on the next line, "Contact Stephanie Henkel."
If you click on that line, it should bring up the email form.
Barb H on April 08, 2011:
Thank you for answering me so quickly. I really appreciate it. I am new to this and would like to contact you privately but I don't know how. Where on this site do I go?
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 08, 2011:
Barb H, We used the Bernal Dental Clinic in Algodones and were quite happy with the workmanship. There are two dentists there who are partners and they are both equally good. The reason I didn't mention them in my hub is that I know there are many others who are excellent, too. Feel free to contact me privately if I can answer any other questions.
Barb H on April 07, 2011:
I was hoping you could recommend a dentist. My daughter and I are going to Algodones in a few months. I had a dentist in mind but have recently read some negative feedback about their workmanship. I sure would appreciate your oppinion. I don't know anyone that I can get a personal recommendation from. Thank you for the great information I will be printing it out and taking it with me.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 03, 2011:
DeSanti, Thanks for reading my hub. I sent you a private message with the information you requested. Because there are many good dentists in Algodones, I prefer not to single out just one to recommend on my Hub.
DeSanti on February 03, 2011:
We'll be heading there in a couple of weeks. Care to share your dentist's name.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 30, 2011:
DPJake, Thanks for visiting my hub and for your comments. You are correct that the afternoon lines returning to the U.S. can be long. I don't remember that the liquor stores only open after noon as we were offered samples of various liquors at 10 am on one visit. Maybe it depends on the day of the week? We did try to time our visits so that we were finished with our appointments, shopping and lunch by 1 o'clock. Other people would enjoy afternoon happy hour and music in the cafes until the lines were shorter.
DPJake from Manchester, New Hampshire on January 30, 2011:
This is my kind of hub :) I have been to Algodones dozens of times and I have learned to get out of Algodones before noon (before the liquor stores open) because we waited over 2 hours in line to walk thru the border once at 2pm.....great hub!
slurpies from Vale, NC on December 29, 2010:
Wow! That's amazing, I so wish I were able to travel, those prices are just mindblowing! Thanks for this article!