Mexico Tourism for Dental Treatment
What Are Your Options?
As explained in
Mexico, Dentist, You - the 3 Ingredients (Where Else - Mexico),
when considering a trip to Mexico for dental treatment, Canadians (and Americans) have two options:
Option 1. Dental Cross-Border Shopping (Mexico Border Dentists)
Dental patients who live in the US and close to the Mexican border, have the option of crossing into Mexico to obtain dental treatment. For these patients, Mexico tourism, or having an enjoyable vacation, is not a major consideration. Essentially they are seeking an affordable dentist in Mexico and hoping to receive dental care of similar quality to what they receive at home.
Los Algodones - can you spot all 10 dental practices in this picture?
There are a number of hubs for this type of dental care in Mexico, all along the US border;
A short drive south of San Diego, for dental cross-border shopping purposes, Tijuana serves the Southern California area.
b. Los Algodones,
Serving the Phoenix and SW Arizona area, located just west of Yuma AZ, this is probably the busiest of the dental cross-border shopping towns. It's a 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix and is definitely the best known dental destination among Canadians due to the large number of Canadian snowbirds living in the area. Holiday Dental visited it recently. See the last section of this page for description and photos.
Also serving the Phoenix and Southern Arizona area, this town is straight south of Phoenix, again about a 3.5 hour drive.
Located right across the border from El Paso TX, Juarez is the largest city supporting a dental cross-border shopping industry. Its success in the industry has been assisted by the presence of the University of Juarez City (UACJ - Universidad Autonoma De Ciudad Juarez) which has educated some of the most successful dentists in the industry.
Holiday Dental visited UACJ, and a number of other dental schools in Mexico recently.
Follow the text link to see their educational facilities and watch an interview with the dean of their dental faculty.
e. Nuevo Progreso
Across the border from the very southern tip of Texas, Nuevo Progreso is similar in character to other Mexican border towns.
Option 2. Dental Tourism (the better option)
The dental cross-border shopping industry does a good job of serving the needs of people living along the Mexican border with the US. For people who live further away; i.e. those who need to fly in order to visit a dentist in Mexico, a better option is dental tourism, which for about the same cost, has the added advantages of:
a. A vacation in a beautiful holiday destination
From a tourism perspective, the border dentist towns do not offer much in the way of attractions. Their economies are based on providing people who live close to the border in the US with easy access to affordable prescription drugs, optometrists, liquor stores and dental care (with a surprising number of hair dressers as well). But there is little else; no beaches, no ocean, no beautiful sunsets, palm trees, para-sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, jungle excursions, archeological sites, etc.
From a dental tourism perspective, if you have to pay for a flight anyway, it makes more sense to fly to a place that has both the qualified dental professionals you seek and the potential for an enjoyable stay. It's for this reason Holiday Dental's network of pre-screened dentists are located in
vacation destinations within Mexico
. If you want to travel Mexico has alot to offer, but if you only go to a border town, you'll miss most of it.
b. Ease of access
Due to their size and location, flying directly to any of the Mexican border dentist towns is not possible. The realistic options are to fly to a city in the US, most of which will require connecting flights, and then use a land port of entry to cross into Mexico. In Arizona, this might require a 3.5 hour drive through the desert. Crossing into Mexico by land is easy. Returning the same way can be a very different story; expect delays.
Contrast this to
Puerto Vallarta or Cancun (and the Mayan Riviera),
either of which can be reached via direct flights from Canada. Twenty minutes after landing, you can be in your dentist's chair or in your room at an all inclusive, beach front resort.
Los Algodones - In Case You've Never Been There
Los Algodones, one of the Mexico border dentist towns, is famous for having the highest concentration of dental clinics anywhere in the world. There are around 300 clinics within just a few blocks.
I would describe Los Algodones as a gritty border town. It's home to a mixture of dentists, optometrists, pharmacies, liquor stores and hair dressers operating out of very small store fronts. Many of them have apparently sub-letted the sidewalks in front of their building to street vendors who sell all the usual souvenirs of Mexico. Overall, much of the town has the look and feel of a flea market.
On every sidewalk and street corner there are workers from the dental cross-border shopping industry in their uniforms.
In terms of the market sector they serve, there seems to be a wide spectrum of dental practices operating in Los Algodones. There are a small number that appear comprehensive and similar in appearance to what you might be used to.
The last picture below is one of my favorites; 13 dental clinics on a one block stretch.
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