Dental Tourism?
February 23, 2018 2:00 AM   Subscribe

On two subsequent plane rides, I ended up talking with people who were bragging about how they went to Mexico and got a full set of dental implants. In both cases, the men said they paid 75% less than what they would've paid in the U.S. I don't remember where in the country they went, but it might've been Mexico City or a dental office in the outskirts.

I remember in the mid-2000s, the rage was medical tourism. I even remember calling my BCBS provider and being directed to a website that showed where in the world insurees could go to get certain procedures done at a lower cost. I was amazed that BCBS was recommending this. Has it shifted to dental tourism now? Are there places being recommended that Americans can go to get high quality dental work for low cost? Like with the prescription drug debates involving Americans going to Canada a decade ago, the American Dental Association can't be very happy about Americans going South for implants.
posted by CollectiveMind to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I know that Thailand is a great place to go for dental work - because a few years ago my partner and I did just that. We were already on holiday but while we were there I got a checkup and clean and she got some fillings. All a fraction of the cost of being done at home and with an itemized bill and lots of evidence of overseas training for their dentists.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 2:06 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Medical tourism to Mexico is a thing, a big thing for Americans. I have googled it for a relative who did not end up doing it but plenty of others have. There are pitfalls, of course, but apparently plenty of reputable clinics with highly skilled, English-speaking staff along with the outliers. Just do your homework before you go.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:14 AM on February 23, 2018

My wife's root canal and a couple of fillings came in under €500 paying cash in The Netherlands. Her initial consultation just to tell her she needed it in the States was about that much, and the procedure would have been several thousand dollars.

The price for all procedures in The Netherlands is set by the government and are the same whichever doctor you use.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:24 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

From what I can make out, it is important to look not just at a country - but also at a city or region. Have a look at the Economist's 2017 index of cost of living in various cities (which is composed by comparing 160 different costs including those for various healthcare items).
posted by rongorongo at 3:49 AM on February 23, 2018

I go to Merida Mexico for my dental work, I have been for almost 15 years. Last year I got 4 crowns and a bridge for $900, less than what one crown would cost here in the US. I save more than enough to pay for my vacation.
posted by Floydd at 4:11 AM on February 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Mine was a recommendation on the green and I've been going to her for cleaning here in Chiang Mai ever since. Last year I realised that she's a periodontist with a German university degree. For cleaning!
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:44 AM on February 23, 2018

People from Western Europe come to Poland and the Czech Republic for high-standard cheap dental work. I generally pay $70 or less for a filling in a very spa-looking clinic where a lot of the clientele are English-speaking - and that's expensive as far as Warsaw prices go.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:33 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

There was a Metafilter FPP about this last year; the linked article and information in the comments may be useful.

And yes, dental tourism is a major thing in Mexico and some other countries. Prices are lower but the quality of care is the same or better.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:59 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

My husband went to Tijuana a few years ago for dental work that would have cost us $4K out of pocket in the US. The dentist he went to charged him $500, and then billed his US insurance. The dentist ended up sending my husband a check for around $300, as a reimbursement due to what the insurance had paid.

I found the dentist by doing online research. There are a lot of forums that expats frequent where they talk about their experiences with specific practitioners. Just be sure to read the reviews (you'll find a lot of reviews on Yelp too). I found that many dentists in MX are members of the ADA, and in many cases are graduates of US universities. In some cases (as in our case) they live in the US but practice in MX because the overhead is so much cheaper.

Many of the dentists that I looked up offered to arrange for hotel stays if needed, but since we live within a reasonable distance of the border it wasn't necessary in our case. MX dentists that cater to foreign clientele have websites in English, and even 800 numbers to call with questions or to book an appointment. After reading reviews I think I called three or four to ask questions, and every office I spoke with had receptionists who spoke excellent English.

My husband had a lot of doubts when I first suggested the idea of going to MX, but after his experience he's practically an evangelist of the idea. Now he wants to take our kids there for orthodontia, but given the number of appointments required for that kind of work I'm not convinced yet that we will do it, it becomes a cost vs time issue.
posted by vignettist at 8:09 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

A good friend of mine has had tons of work done here, in Nogales. He said you fly to Arizona, do the consultation in Arizona, and then cross the border for the work. He also said it was more modern-looking than any dentist he'd ever been to in the states.

He said "root canal with fancy crown for $550 total [plus $900 for hotel for 3 days, flight, meals]."

I also know some folks who go to Brazil for their dental work, but they have other connections to Brazil that take them there to begin with - they just postpone dental work until they head South.
posted by MonsieurBon at 8:35 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Are there places being recommended that Americans can go to get high quality dental work for low cost?

From a blog entry at RV Love, the Day We Went to Mexico for Dental:
About 11 miles east of Yuma, AZ, the tiny border town of Los Algodones, in the corner of Mexico that borders California and Arizona. Known as the dental capital of the world, Los Algodones has only 6,000 residents yet boasts more than 300 dentists.
posted by Rash at 12:32 PM on February 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was just coming to mention Los Algodones, where I had dental work done in 2010. Before that, I was living in Tucson so I went to Nogales. These dentists are usually US-trained and some are US citizens who cross the border from, say, Yuma to work every day. Very professional. Wander in the RV forums and even ask for recommendations.
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:57 PM on February 23, 2018

A friend of mine just got back from what is probably Los Algodones -- she said it was an entire town just south of the border where the whole place was designed to provide dental care for Americans. She also said the work she had done would have bankrupted her in the States.
posted by suelac at 2:32 PM on February 23, 2018

I know several people who get dental work done in Los Algodones, just across the border from Yuma, AZ. They're happy with the work and the price is dramatically better.
posted by theora55 at 8:01 PM on February 23, 2018

« Older How to make a Sri Lankan guest welcome?   |   Monologues for 16 year olds on the theme of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.