Monday, September 21, 2015

THE MOST POPULAR MEXICO DENTAL TOURISM PLACES & TREATMENTS by the Board Certified Mexico Dentist Association.

MEXICO IS THE MOST POPULAR DENTAL TOURISM & VACATION DESTINATION IN THE WORLD - This article explores the best Mexican dental vacation places, procedures & prices

Photo: A Pacific Ocean sunset in popular dental vacation destination Puerto Vallarta 


     The vast majority of dental patients from the USA day-trip to Mexico border towns like Tijuana or Los Algodones for quick and affordable dentistry saving hundreds and often a couple of thousand dollars on procedures like crowns or a dental implant. 

Lets talk about Tijuana for a moment. Mexico's 2nd largest city is located downhill from 20 million Southern Californians  just across the border from San Diego. Thousand of patients from the US have visited Tijuana annually for the past 60 years or more. 

There are 2nd generation Tijuana dentists with 3rd generation dentists on the way with up to 95% of their patients being Americans with a sprinkling of Canadians who couldn't (or refused) to pay the extra $100 to continue flying to Cabo or Puerto Vallarta.

Patients who have extensive dental work to be done – oral restorations, cosmetic dental makeovers etc. which can easily take 1 to 2 weeks to complete often fly to see dentists in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta or Cancun where they can enjoy a world-class dental vacation. 

There are days between dental appointments which one can enjoy doing all the fun activities these places are famous for. Like staying in fabulous hotels, great dining, golf on ocean courses, dolphin shows, sports fishing and being towed by a speedboat 600' in the air hanging on to a parachute. 

The most popular Mexican dental VACATION destinations are the aforementioned Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana (stay and play in San Diego).  The most popular dental TRAVEL destination is a toss-up between Tijuana and Los Algodones south of Yuma Arizona.

The dusty little border town of Los Algodones across the border from Yuma is not the kind of place one would call a dental vacation destination. But it has received a lot of media in the US press for being a "Mecca" for low-cost dentistry – but all Mexico qualifies for that title. One would guess the writers of never having been 50 kms. south of the border let alone to Cabo, Cancun or Puerto Vallarta.

Photo: Los Algodones - Many dental clinics are located in what were once cantinas and brothels not too many years ago.  Today men dressed in scrubs hawk dental clinics on street corners instead of happy hour in the bars.

The most popular dental procedures for patients visiting border towns are root canals, crowns, veneers and dental implants. Patients having large complicated treatments like dental makeovers which take  a week or two stay often end up in the resort towns of Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta or Cancun with some staying in San Diego or fine hotels in Tijuana's Zona Rio. 

Patients can avoid multiple border crossing back and forth to Tijuana by renting accommodations via AirBnB on the beach in Playas de Tijuana. 4-5 Star International hotels are available in Tijuana for the cost of a run-down motel in San Diego. A couple of my favorites are the Hotel Lucerna and the Amigo Plaza Hotel & Casino - both in the upscale Zona Rio and near the best dental clinics. Bid on the hotel rooms via for the lowest prices.

Photo: Dental clinic location for Board Certified Mexico Dentist Association dentists in Tijuana.

Dental Makeover and Extreme Dental Makeover are general non-clinical lay terms which are often used to describe either cosmetic dentistry or work such as a full-mouth oral restoration. These can run from $4,000 to $25,000 or a little more in Mexico versus $45,000 to $75,000 in the US or Canada. 

  • The dentist should be certified in a number of specialties that you need. Crown, veneers, dental implants, sinus lifts, bone grafts, extractions, periodontics, oral surgery, root canal therapy are some of the procedures that may be involved. 
  • Some clinics will have a small team of specialists who complement each others skills. Be wary of dentists who do it all – they may only be general dentists trying to learn complicated dentistry at your expense. And discomfort.
Cosmetic Dentistry encompasses procedures such as crowns, veneers, gum contouring, bondings, inlays, onlays, bridges and sometimes even dental implants but falls far short of being an oral restoration as cosmetic dentistry is more concerned with aesthetics than dental structure and function. 
  • Cosmetic dentistry is not a recognized ADA specialty field, thus not taught in US dental colleges as a specialty. But it is in Mexico. 4 years of basic dental college plus 2 years of specialist college is required to become a cosmetic dentist in Mexico.
Dental implants, mini implant secured dentures (4 on 1 or All on 1) and bridges are very popular with dental tourists. These procedures involve surgery and should only be performed by an oral surgeon, prosthodontist or other specialist such as an orthodontist qualified in implantology. 

In the US, Canada and other first world countries certification in a specialty is the rule.  However, in Mexico, general dentists can attend an implant manufacturer’s quickie weekend course or worse – a 2 hour dental convention seminar and thereafter they call themselves implant ‘specialists.”  
  • If you see a certificate of "Atendencia" from a dental convention seminar on implants on the dental salon wall -  that's likely all the implant training your dentist had. Don't be impressed. Run. 

Photo: Popular 4 on 1 mini implanted prosthesis - almost like your permanent teeth and much more comfortable than traditional removable dentures.
It takes 3-4 years in a specialist college to learn surgery properly, and implants are surgery. 

Your implant complete should cost $1,900 to $2,500 for top brands like Nobel Biocare which can last 20 yrs. to a lifetime. Be wary of low priced implants often promoted in border town implant mills as “FDA approved” (from China, Brazil etc.) they last only 6 - 8 yrs.  Go for quality and get branded units and you won't have to do them over.

A Full-Mouth Oral Restoration can involve several dental specialty fields including prosthodontics, endodontistry, periodontics, orthodontics and oral surgery. 

Caution: General dentists untrained in the above specialties love to have foreign patients walk in for dental makeovers and drop $10,000 or more. But they only have very basic dental college training and are going to be learning advanced dentistry by practicing on you at your expense. Please don't make yourself suffer. 

Find a dentist who is board certified in dental implants. Not one who took a short course from an implant manufacturer whose motivation is to sell more implants.

Dental tourism in Mexico saves American and Canadian dental patients millions of dollars a year.  But you should always remember that if you want the best results to take the American and Mexican Dental Association’s advice and see a Board Certified Dentist when in Mexico for your complicated treatments.

The Board Certified Mexico Dentist Association has member dentists in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, Cancun, Guadalajara, Los Algodones, Mazatlan, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Tijuana and other popular dental travel destinations in Mexico. It's affiliate (below) has certified dentists in Asia.

Our staff of doctors and patient advisers offer Free estimates, referrals and dental travel advice without any additional cost. 



Carla H. Sanchez
Board Certified Mexico Dentist Association 

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