Just look south. Dental care in Mexico is a great option for American or Canadian patients looking to save money without sacrificing quality of care. Whether in need of a few fillings, orthodontic treatment, a couple of crowns or implants, a clinic in Mexico can offer savings of up to 80% off what you can expect to pay in the United States. But is it safe to travel over the border for treatment? Are the clinics clean and reliable? I travelled to Mexico to find out for myself what the dentists there have to offer.
My first stop was in Tijuana, which was an easy thirty minute ride from downtown San Diego via the San Diego Trolley. A quick taxi ride later, I was in the dentist’s office waiting for my first appointment. I chatted with a few patients in the lobby; one family had brought their two daughters in from California to have their braces done, another man was having a couple fillings done, and an elderly woman was consulting with the prosthodontist about implants. All of them said they had visited clinics in Tijuana for years, and were always very happy with the quality of the work for the price. The clinic was bright and clean, and the dentist and staff made me feel at ease with their competence and professionalism.
Encouraged by my first visit, I toured dozens of different clinics across the border towns over the next weeks and interviewed many dentists to see if I could find great clinics to perform my dental treatment.
I felt very safe during my visits to Mexico and navigating the border was very easy. In general, I found the quality of the clinics to be very high. The dentists were happy to show me pictures of their work, take me through their facilities, and put me in touch with former patients who could attest to their satisfaction. However, I did encounter some clinics that I wouldn’t be comfortable receiving treatment at. It is important when looking for dentists in Mexico to find a good independent source of information where you can read reviews written by former patients, see photos of the clinics, check out the credentials of the dentists and compare prices. With a little research, you can find excellent options for treatment in Mexico.
Getting your dental work done in a Mexican resort town
Want to escape to a resort town for some sunshine, beaches and warm hospitality? For the amount of money you can save on a few crowns, your vacation can pay for itself! Dentists in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta & Cancun have treated savvy travelers while they enjoy all the sunny beach resorts have to offer. These dentists have excellent partnerships with some luxury resorts, and can help you find a great deal for your accommodations well away from the nightlife. These dentists are capable of everything from simple fillings and teeth cleanings to full mouth reconstructions, and work with dental labs that can have your crowns and bridges completed in a short period of time.
Getting your dental work done at the border
For those living within driving distance of the border, Tijuana, Algodones & Nuevo Progreso offer an extremely economical alternative to treatment in the United States. The clinics in these towns have been treating American & Canadian patients for over twenty years, and your treatment can be completed in as short as one day’s visit. Additionally, many are open all day on Saturdays, so you don’t have to take time off work. There are a multitude of clinics catering to border crossing patients, and they do vary in quality, so be sure to do your research or book your appointment through a trusted source such as Dental Departures. These border towns are very safe and the clinics are happy for the business they get from North American patients.
Transportation and crossing the border
Consider your transportation options. If you have a rental car, your rental agreement may prohibit you from crossing the border. If this is the case, or if you do not choose to take your personal vehicle across the border, there are parking lots on the US side for you to park at while receiving treatment. Walking across the border is fast & easy, and there will be taxis waiting on the other side to take you to your clinic.
In Tijuana, the taxi drivers are often not very experienced; it helps to have the clinic email you directions to the clinic from the border or your hotel. Some clinics are happy to meet you at the border and drive you directly to your appointment.
In Algodones, the clinics are only two blocks from the border. Walking across the border is highly recommended; returning through US customs in a vehicle during peak travel times can often take hours.
If you are receiving major surgery, need anesthesia or will be medicated, it’s a good idea to have a friend or family member accompany you to assist you in getting to and from your appointment.
You will need a valid passport to cross the border, but no visas are required.
If you are going to spend a good deal of money with your credit card, consider obtaining a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction (FX) fees. Most credit card companies charge FX fees up to 4% on all purchases, so if you spend $5000, you will be charged $200. In North America, Capital One is the only credit card company that does not charge FX fees. Alternately, many clinics offer up to a 5% discount on cash transaction. Check with your dentist to see if they offer this option. Also be sure to let your credit card company know that you will be travelling to Mexico. There is nothing worse than to try to use your credit card and have it declined, only to find your credit card company has suspended your credit card because of activity in a foreign country. Typically you can contact your credit card company’s risk department and let them know when you plan to visit Mexico. Let them know a good week before you visit Mexico just in case.
San Diego Trolley
This website shows the routes and timetables for taking the trolley directly from downtown San Diego to the Tijuana border. This is the fastest and cheapest way to get to Tijuana and back.