I have a beef with my teef.
January 5, 2011 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a dentist in Matamoros, Mexico? Is it a good place for dental work? Details inside.

I need two root canals and crowns to match, but my local dentist quoted $3,500 for the procedure.

That's way out of my budget, but I am in pain so something needs to be done very soon. I think I can scrape up about $1,000. Extraction is the only alternative. But they are my two bottom molars (30 and 31), and suddenly missing so much of my chewing surface is terrifying to me.

I have read all kinds of horror stories about how my teeth will shift, and how the top teeth will eventually have to be extracted as well. It sounds like the beginning of a terrible downward spiral that will leave me as toothless as my grandfather.

In the search for an alternative, I called the dental school in New Orleans several times, but I have been unable to get someone on the line to schedule an appointment. It seems like you have to go there and beg, but I'm three hours away.

So, that leaves Mexico. Matamoros is the closest Mexican city to where I live in Louisiana. On Google Street View the landscape looks nicer than my town in the US, so it has that going for it.

I found this place in a Google search, and the website looks nice enough. http://www.moralesdentalclinic.com/

Has anyone ever visited Matamoros for dental work? If so, how was it? Where'd you go? Was the work more affordable than US dental work? Is going to the dentist anywhere in Mexico a terrible idea in general?
posted by pantsonfire to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Have you looked into dental schools here in the states?

I live in New York so I don't know what's near you, but here, NYU's dental school will have student dentists supervised by their professors do practically any dental work you need for a flat fee of around $100, particularly if it's an emergency case such as yours. My procedure was pretty simple, but it was shockingly cheep, easy, and professional. I went in without an appointment at noon and I walked out at 3pm with my teeth fixed and only $100 poorer.

Here is a similar program I found at LSU with a little bit of googling. I'm sure there are other programs at most medical schools.
posted by raygan at 7:54 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

...and by medical schools I meant dental schools.
posted by raygan at 7:56 PM on January 5, 2011

...and on re-reading your question I realized i skipped the paragraph where you mentioned that you'd looked into that. Sorry!
I do think it might be worth just going to the dental school though. NYU didn't take appointments either, they only took walk in "emergency" cases, but that didn't mean that they were turning many people away, and it was really easy to get seen. I have no idea if that is the case at LSU, but I suspect it's worth a try before going all the way to Mexico.
posted by raygan at 7:59 PM on January 5, 2011

I've been calling LSU several times a day but can't get anyone on the phone. I will try again tomorrow and beg or cry. I was able to get someone on the phone once, who told me to have my dentist fax a referral. Then it was impossible to get them again. The receptionist said that they're very busy and there are long waits.

They quoted $520 per root canal, and $360 per crown for the student work.

It would actually be cheaper for me to fly to NYC. I know my way around just fine so maybe that's an option. It's a heck of a lot less scary than going to Mexico. It's not that I don't want to pay, it's just that I cant, and I desperately want to keep my teeth.
posted by pantsonfire at 8:01 PM on January 5, 2011

You've given me an idea, though, Raygan. I'm from the Philly area so maybe I'll head to UPENN dental school and see if they can help me. http://www.dental.upenn.edu/patient_care/dental_school_clinics/patient_information/
posted by pantsonfire at 8:06 PM on January 5, 2011

Matamoros isn't exactly the safest place right now. I'd look into the dental school route.
posted by item at 8:28 PM on January 5, 2011

Any school might be on semester break right now. That might be the reason for no answers to your phone calls. Also, on a side note, remember that you have to have a passport to go to Mexico now.
posted by tamitang at 9:07 PM on January 5, 2011

Yeah, better to stay out of Matamoros right now. You might lose more than a few teeth, if you know what I mean. I have some distant relatives there that could prob suggest a good dentist, but it might just be wiser to keep looking for other options.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:25 PM on January 5, 2011

I'm from South Texas, and I've had plenty of family have dental work done in Matamoros and Reynosa. I lived there for the first 18 years of my life, and I would not cross into either of those cities right now, especially Matamoros.

If you're hell bent on this, the city you want to try is Nuevo Progresso. It's half way between Reynosa and Matamoros, and the city has avoided most of the violence (theories are that a single cartel runs the city, as opposed to having both faction in town). The fact about the town is that it's a tourist town, built for Winter Texans (migratory old folks), so there are pharmacies, curio shops, liquor stores, and a dentist within 10 feet of the bridge.

If I had to go to Mexico to get dental work done, I'd go to Progresso. I'd park my car, walk across, duck into the first place I found, get it done, and leave.
posted by SNWidget at 9:26 PM on January 5, 2011

You've given me an idea, though, Raygan. I'm from the Philly area so maybe I'll head to UPENN dental school and see if they can help me. http://www.dental.upenn.edu/patient_care/dental_school_clinics/patient_information/

When I was in grad school, one of my fellow students, a European with no US dental coverage, went to the Penn Dental School Clinic to have some major work done. From what I remember, he had a good experience except that it just took a long time, longer than with a normal dentist, and he could afford it on his social science grad student stipend (read: poor). I'd be very, very surprised if you couldn't get out for far less than $1000. So, +1 for Penn.

And man, how odd that I clicked into this thread and actually had something to contribute...
posted by The Michael The at 4:22 AM on January 6, 2011

I grew up in the Valley (McAllen, across from Reynosa). I would not go into Matamoros or Reynosa right now at all (and my family and I frequently went over the border in the 90s). Like SNWidget said, Progresso is your best bet, it is really set up to be a big tourist store and is heavily guarded. There is simply too much violence right now in Matamoros + Reynosa.
posted by seventyfour at 7:01 AM on January 6, 2011

On further review, how could Matamoros be the closest Mexican city to where you live in Louisiana? You've far closer to, say, Nuevo Laredo (the safety of which I can't speak to, though I'm guessing it's not great). If you had to go into Mexico, and you were willing to travel all the was to Matamoros, you might as well fly into Monterrey or another interior town for your dental work (which would be much safer).
posted by seventyfour at 7:04 AM on January 6, 2011

Thanks for all of the advice. I had no idea how dangerous the border towns in Mexico were right now. It seemed like a good idea at first, but now I realize that tooth repair would be the least of my worries if I went there.

It helped me work up the courage to try another angle I was thinking about, and that was to try and barter. Believe it or not, it worked!

I found another dentist who seemed to have a private practice, and I asked the receptionist if she'd be willing to trade web design and printing services for dental work. She said she wasn't sure what the doctor would say, so I brought a few samples and hoped for the best. I figured that I'd at least have a second opinion.

This dentist was much more thorough and interested in my teeth than the last dentist. He actually took the time to discuss my options, and to review the x-ray with me. The last guy basically handed me a sheet with a giant price tag and "extraction: $117" circled and underlined on it. He also said I only needed one root canal.

Unfortunately, he had to refer out the root canal, estimated at $800, but that was within my budget. He said he'd be happy to barter for the fillings and crowns. I'm absolutely overjoyed right now. I know I'll have to do a ton of work in return, but i'll be chewing on carrots and loving every minute of it.
posted by pantsonfire at 2:29 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

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