Mexico Dental – A Guide to Dental Surgery in Los Algodones
Before We Get Started
If you are thinking about getting dental work done in Mexico then you’ve found a great resource to help you decide if Mexico Dental is the right choice for you. All of the information you will find in this article is based on personal experiences and our independent research. We were not paid by any dental office, and give our opinion freely and willingly as our own. Make sure to do your own research. This article is for informational use only. We are not doctors and cannot give medical or dental advice. If you have questions about our personal experience you can schedule a chat with us by messaging us on our Facebook page or by commenting below (we will be in touch!). Do your homework and make the right choice that is best for you and your situation.
Background On Our Situation
In 2014, Erik had a root canal and crown procedure performed by a reputable, U.S. based dentist in our home town of Stamford, CT. The tooth in question was in the upper jaw, behind the k9 tooth. If you want to get technical it was the left maxillary second bicuspid. Erik has always had fragile teeth, but the work done on this tooth was not done well and the tooth broke less than a year later. The break occurred below the gum line, destroying any future anchor points for the root. This began our journey into the world of understanding dental implants, their cost, quality and potential pitfalls if improperly installed.
A dental relationship is a very personal one. I personally can attest to loving my dentist and having a great experience here in The States. Love can only go so far however. When it comes to dental implants love is one thing… cost, experience and quality is quite another… We began our search for a reputable implant specialist in the U.S. Our new dentist who performed our cleanings and annual checkups (not the one who performed the bad crown) offered to the do the dental implant and gave us a free consultation. What we realized during this consultation was that implants were actually a specialty, much like oral surgery in general. Our dentist needed to bring in another partner dentist into his office and upon closer inspection, didn’t seem to have the experience we were looking for. Nonetheless we proceeded with getting an estimate… a $5,500 estimate. When we pressed for additional information we got silence, incomplete information or “we need to call you back” which didn’t leave us feeling good about our prospects. Some of the questions we asked our dentist that they were unable to quickly answer: Who manufactures the implant? Who manufactures the crown? How many procedures have you performed this year? Do you have any patient references?
Thus began our search for an implant specialist. In doing our research it became clear to us that the markup on dental work was not only enormous but very inconsistent. The actual material costs of the implant, crown and secondary material barely added up to $500 dollars in wholesale cost to the dentist. This was a high margin business with a huge spread in cost, quality and dentist experience.
Our Decision to Explore Mexico Dental
We won’t sugar coat it, cost was a huge factor in our decision to explore Mexico’s dental market, but it wasn’t the only factor.
We wanted to work with a dentist that came highly recommended and who had done hundreds if not thousands of dental implants. That isn’t to say that more is always better, but speaking as professionals in our own craft, we know that experience plays a tremendous role in how good we are at our jobs, and we wanted the same from our dentist. We also wanted to work with someone who wasn’t insulted by our questions. A dental practice that was comfortable being transparent about the materials, procedure, experience and costs from start to finish.
As we began to do our research we were genuinely surprised that we started getting more comfortable with some of the Mexico dental practices than we were with the US ones. It became clear that the Mexico dental offices had to work harder to earn your business. Potential customers were naturally suspect of poor quality, a lack of legitimate medical training, a lack of standards or governing body around conduct and even concerned about basic things like physical safety when traveling to Mexico. As a result we found that the offices we spoke to were more prepared. They had written materials ready explaining their approach, methodology, experience and value proposition for using their office. This was in contrast to offices in the US, who seemed mystified by our questions and generally unwilling to defend why they were the best choice. In the end it started to feel like we were going to pay more and get less by using a US dentist… interesting for sure!
A Summary Of Our Initial Experience
After doing our research and speaking to a number of dental offices in both the U.S. and in Mexico we were ready to make our decision on who would perform the procedure. We determined that Rubio Dental Group in Los Algodones, Mexico was the right fit for our needs. (see FAQ section below for details on our selection process and some other doctors you should also consider) Dr. Rubio and Dr. Cezar are the two primary owners and actively work in the practice on a daily basis. They speak english fluently and are considered specialists in implant dentistry. Due to their credentials, the results of our research, referrals from other friends and fellow bloggers (Marc & Julie from RVLove and Nina and Paul from Wheelinit), we decided to use them for Erik’s dental extraction and implant procedure.
For those of you who follow the blog more for entertainment than education, we will keep it brief and let the video above speak for itself. Lets just say that the procedure went off without a hitch, Erik had very little to no pain at all during the extraction, during the implant installation, or during the healing phase. Our second article and video are up and available here. Come check it out!
I’m Interested in Exploring Mexico Dental! Where Do I Start?
For those of you here for a detailed education on our experience, not to worry we have you covered as well. The procedure from start to finish took us 2 trips across a 3 month period. 3 months you say?? Yes, it takes time for the implant to heal before it can accept a crown so you need to come back after things have had a chance to heal. In total we paid approximately $2200 for the implant which included initial consultations, a cleaning, a CT Scan, tooth extraction and minor bone graphing, implant installation, crown and crown placement. We opted not to get a temporary tooth made during the healing phase, that would have added some minor cost to our total. We have put together a list of questions and answers that we believe you will find useful in beginning your search to explore if Mexico dentistry is right for you. If you have any additional questions or suggestions please let us know, we will add content and questions to the FAQ below as the article expands with feedback from our followers.
Los Algodones is a small Mexican town located at the northeastern trip of the municipality of Mexicali; about 10 miles west of Yuma, Arizona. It is so far to the eastern most tip of Baja California (a state in Mexico) that you can park your car on the US side and walk over the boarder into Los Algodones. In fact parking in the Quechan Casio lot, located right before the border, and walking over to get your dental work is the most popular way to enter the city for the day.
You can also drive your car, RV or motorcycle into Los Algodones, but keep in mind car lines can be very long, especially when returning back into the states. You may also be selected for a random search.
- Quechan Casino Resort – located at 525 Algodones Road, Winterhaven, CA. About 1 mile from the Mexico boarder. They offer hotel rooms and RV dry camping in their south lot. In previous research were were told it would cost $10 for a 3 days stay, but confirming in person in Jan. 2017 no pay was required. We just suggest if you stay in their lot go in and support the Casino. Not into gambling? Try out their steak house it was very good!
- Yuma, AZ – there are are several RV campgrounds throughout Yuma, AZ with a wide range of amenities.
- For our first trip down we were unsure of how long the procedure would take so we found a month long stay campground called Southern Mesa RV Park. It wasn’t the most glamours campground but it had great rates.
- Thousand Trails/Encore – has 6 RV resorts in Yuma that you can also stay. Since we are Thousand Trail/ Ready Camp Go members we got a great deal staying at Mesa Verda RV Resort for the weekend.
- Dunes/ BLM Land – in Yuma and Winterhaven, CA along Interstate 8 is a ton of BML land where RV’s can dry camp. We saw several rigs camped out along Araz Rd and by the Dunes near the town called Felicity.
If you are dry camping their is a Chevon Dump Station at exit 164, off I-8.
- Passport – identification is not required to get into Mexico but if you are planning on returning to the U.S. remember your passport. They wont let you back in without it.
- Cash – most of the dental offices with take credit cards, but we suggest bringing cash if you want to purchase any food, drink or souvenirs. In case you forgot cash or maybe didn’t bring enough their are ATM’s located in the Purple Pharmacy. Expect to pay a Foreign Transaction Fee of at least $10. HSBC Bank manages the ATM in the pharmacy, but due to identity thief and for security reasons we recommend not using an ATM in Mexico.
- Cell Phone – coverage is spotty but you are able to makes calls to the U.S. in case of an emergency.
- Friend – If you can, bring a friend. It will be a fun experience and its always good to go somewhere you’ve never been with company!
Mexico, like the United States can be dangerous. There are good neighborhoods and conversely there are bad neighborhoods. For the purpose of this article we are going to focus on Los Algodones, Mexico, not Mexico as a whole which is a whole different animal.
Our experience in late 2016 and early 2017 was that Los Algodones was a very safe town. The town is teaming with Americans, most who are 55+ who come for cheap dental work, prescription eye glasses and of course tequila! As you walk across the boarder you may see the boarder staffed by Federales (Mexican Federal Police). During our various visits we saw the boarder staffed and also saw it empty with nobody but locals in the area. When you walk along the streets of Los Algodones it becomes clear that the town’s primary purpose is commerce. Everyone is there to either buy something or sell something. This may sound like a bad thing, but in our opinion, it isn’t. The locals are there to make you comfortable and to ensure you want to come back and buy their goods. The town as a whole seems to work together to ensure tourists feel welcome and safe. Now that said, vendors are not shy, they are quite vocal and approach you on the street to offer everything from teeth cleanings to local hand made goods. They are perfectly harmless but you’ll find yourself saying “no gracias” or “no thank you” quite a lot!
Just about everything in Los Algodones begins to close up at 4:00pm so plan your day accordingly. The boarder is technically open until 10pm pacific time however we recommend you cross back to the U.S. before dark just to be safe.
Google Maps has detailed maps of the streets of Los Algodones. You can click the map icon shown here to open a maps of the area that you can customize based on your destination.
We recommend you familiarize yourself with the streets of Los Algodones before you cross into Mexico. Know the streets and know your route to your destination. A tourists who knows where they are going is much less likely to run into trouble. Its very unlikely you’ll have an issue, the locals are there to help and will provide directions upon request, but we recommend planning your route regardless. Verizon cell service works, but it is spotty at best so don’t plan on relying on your phone for maps or communication.
Directions to Rubio Dental Group
If you are looking to visit Rubio Dental Group like we did, then you can click the map shown here for a detailed map of walking directions to the Rubio Dental Group offices. On our map you’ll see our primary route in blue (dots) and alternate routes shown in grey. Our recommended route will take you down 1st Street and Avenue A which is a alleyway full of shops and all sorts of fun local merchandise. We prefer to go this route as it avoids the cars and gives us something fun to do on the walk! If you don’t feel like walking you can always call Rubio and asked to be picked up at the boarder which they will do free of charge.
Disclaimer: As we’ve said multiple times in this article, we are not doctors or experts. That said, here is some information on how we made our decision on which dentist to work with.
Selecting a dentist in Mexico is just like selecting a dentist in the U.S. with some key differences. In the United States, we have the American Dental Association which keeps track of licensed and accredited dentists who are licensed to practice. In Mexico the regulatory bodies are similar in many ways to the U.S.
In order for a dentist in Mexico to obtain a license to practice dentistry in Mexico, the applicant must pass an exam provided by the Colegio Nacional de Cirujanos Dentistas (CNCD).
In Mexico, the Asociacion Dental Mexicana (ADM) or Mexico Dental Association is the regulating body that oversees the standards of practicing dentistry in the country. A dental practitioner must undertake 30 hours of continuing education every two years to be able to maintain their membership and good standing in the ADM.
Just like in the U.S. a good first step is to verify the credentials and certifications held by the dentist you are looking to work with. You can ask about their license status, and request to see copies of the licenses during your initial consultation visit.
In the end, no amount of licensing can be a replacement for common sense. Inspect the dentist office for good healthcare practices. Observe if people are wearing gloves, look for sterilization equipment and if you don’t feel comfortable just leave, there is always another dentist, don’t risk it!.
We also like to check online for dental reviews. Don’t just trust any review, some have been posted by marketing firms who are trying to steer people in a particular direction. Look for websites or blogs you trust that have valid content not just about dentistry. There are a lot of websites and bloggers who have recommended dentists they know and trust including us. Reach out to multiple sources for their honest opinion. You may not always get a reply but its worth doing your homework when your health and safety is at stake.
Don’t be shy when booking an appointment with a Mexico dentist, its just like booking an appointment here in the U.S!. Every office we spoke to spoke fluent English and were happy to answer all of our questions. There are a few different options to booking an appointment and to choosing a dentist.
- You can do the research on your own and reach out to one of the many dental offices directly.
- You can book an appointment through a referral office.
We found two main referral offices that book appointments in Los Algodones.
NOTE: All appointments are booked in Arizona time – Since you are on the border of Arizona and California, the time zone can get a bit confusing. Most dentist will confirm this, but all dentists will book your appointment in Arizona time.
We spent quite some time researching Mexico dental practitioners and narrowed our search to 3 dentists we felt had the best qualifications. Their information is below. We’ve also opened up this FAQ to your comments. If you have a dentist you highly recommend please mention them below along with a description of why you recommend them.
Below is a list of dentists that made the final cut from our research. These dentists met the requirements of our research and were our top 3. Our final selection is listed last.
Dr. Guillerno Marquez Reyes – 928- 271-5548, – http://www.losalgodones.com/dr_g_marquez/
Dr. Eva Urena – (619) 866-6992, – http://www.losalgodones.com/dra_urena/
Rubio Dental Group – (928)723-0015, (Who we chose) – http://www.dentalrubio.com/
Since we were a bit skeptical at first we chose to book our appointment through the Dayo Dental Group. Dayo Dental partners with Rubio Dental Group. Dr. Rubio and Dr. Cezar are both owners of their practices. Due to their credentials and high reviews we decided to use them for Erik’s dental extraction and implant procedure.
Note: The doctor’s office will provide the doctor’s credentials prior to visit upon request.
(A big thank you to Nina from Wheelinit for her comprehensive article on Mexico dental that aided us in our search. Her article can be found here).
Depending on the dentist you visit and the procedures you need will determine the cost for your dental. From our research the following costs and price ranges seemed to be the typical prices of the dentists in Mexico. But again you may spend more or less depending on where you go and what you do.
- Consultation: Free – $50 (Depending on the type of consultation)
- Cleaning: $20 – $35
- Teeth Whitening: $150 – $500
- X-ray (panoramic): $50 – $60
- CT Scan: $150
- Extraction: $45 – $180 per tooth
- Dentures: $250 – $500
- Root Canal: $95 – $250
- Bone Graph: $225 – $400
- Crown(s): $180 – $600
- Implant(s): $750 – 1250
- Implant with Crown/Denture Ranges: $1600 – $2200
Dayo Dental Group and Sani Dental Group are both great places to get an idea of how much a detail procedure may run you. Check out the following links below to get a price list or free- quote.
There are several options for implants and crowns. They range in price, look, style and requirements. Below we listed the options that were provided to us along with some additional options we found in our research. We wanted to provide this information to aid in your initial research, along with figuring out an estimated budget, but we strongly suggest speaking with your dentist during your consultation to find out what option(s) will work best for you.
- Straumann – starting at around $1,250 – Straumann is the most expensive and has life time warranty. Good if you are missing one or all of your teeth, helps prevent bone loss, avoid shifting teeth and changes in facial structure.
- Nobel BioCare – starting at around $1,100 – One of the oldest and more commercial brands in the world.
- MIS – starting at around $890 – Used in any area, front or back and usually recommend for people with lower jawbone density.
- MegaGen – starting at around $750 – Good for patients with strong bone density, usually used for single pieces and front teeth.
- Porcelain fused to Metal – Starting at $180
- Porcelain fused to Gold – Starting at $600
- Full Porcelain/ Ceramic – Starting at $340
- Zirconium – Starting at $450
Just how long you need to plan on staying in the Yuma/Los Algodones area can vary greatly depending on the procedures you are getting. There is no right answer for this question but an answer for your specific situation is easy enough to figure out. The dental offices are busy and they often overlook explaining how many visits you will need to take to complete the procedure. One thing we found in general was that the turn around time for just about anything was extremely fast. Most things were either same day or next day when it came to waiting for labs, temps, or scheduling follow ups. The doctors know that you are not a local and want to accommodate your schedule/travel plans. Talk to the front office of the dental practice you choose and get a complete timeline of the procedure you are looking to get done, then schedule your visits around that information. Below is additional information of how long the process of getting an extraction and implant took for us.
How many trips we took (for a cleaning, consultation, extraction, implant and crown)
Trip 1 – November 2016
- Visit 1: Cleaning and consultation visit.
- For the consultation Erik got a 360 x-ray and CT scan. This will assist in evaluating the bone and to avoid any mistakes when making the implant (i.e. ensuring the implant is but in the optimal position).
- A different machine was needed for the CT scan so this was completed at a different office. Once the scan was completed they send it directly back Dr. Rubio’s office for us. This is done same day as long as it is before 2:00pm.
- Visit 2- Tooth extraction and implant.
- Once the implant is in, a temporary tooth can also be made. Since this was one of Erik’s back teeth we decided to not get the temporary.
- NOTE: More visits if a bone-graphing (meaning there isn’t enough bone to hold implant) or sinus lift is required. It all depends on results of evaluation and comfort level of Dentist in how they want to proceed with the treatment.
- After the procedure we picked up some perception antibiotics and pain killers and went home to rest.
- Wait 3-4 months for the implant to heal.
Trip 2 – February 2017
- Visit 3 – Standard in-office X-ray, to see how implant healed, and impressions for crown.
- Wait 5-7 days for crown to be made.
- Visit 4 – To have the crown cemented.
The Anrade, California border crossing is open from 6:00am – 10:00pm pacific time. Depending on the time of year their can be a long line back into the US, it could take you an hour or more. This tend to happen during the winter months and in the middle of the day. There are benches and shade where the lines form and be forewarned the local peddlers will try to sell you things as you wait.
You are required to have a passport or passport card to enter back into the United States- So don’t forget that! If you need more information on documentation needed to get back into the United States (passport, visa, etc.) check out the US Department of State website here!
The border patrol will ask each person individually for their ID and ask you what you purchased in Mexico. You maybe required to show what you purchased, they usually only ask to see medication, but you may need to show other purchased depending on what it is.
You are allowed to bring a 3 months personal supply of prescription medication back to the U.S. As mentioned above you will need to declare all item especially drugs when returning back into the US. Depending on the medication and dosage a written perception from the doctor maybe required, but not always.
Crossing the border:
- Only 1 bottle of alcohol is allowed per person
- Can NOT bring back fruits and vegetables
- Can NOT bring back anything on the controlled substances list
Below are a few additional links that provide great information on traveling to Mexico and crossing the boarder:
Good question! We spoke to Rubio Dental Group about providing discounts to our followers. We are not compensated for the referrals but we suggested to them that they offer our followers a discount since their costs for acquiring business through referrals is lower and that saving should be passed down to the customer. We spoke about a number of different options and agreed that initially anyone who we referred to them would receive a free consultation and estimate for any dental work that is needed. As we get requests for referrals we will work to expand this discount hopefully to cleanings and other preventative procedures. If you would like to learn more and receive a complimentary consultation, please input your details below and we will pass your information along to Rubio Dental so you can explore your options and receive additional discounts.