If you do a simple Google search for “Mexican dentistry”, you will be returned over 4 million results that tout “dentistry tourism” to the same degree that one would choose a 5 Star Resort! These clinics advertise themselves as “Safe, Affordable, Superior”, “Clean, Modern, English-Speaking” or even “Best Dentist in Cancun” (work on your tan while you get your veneers?) There are nearly 400 dentists in Mexico listed on www.whatclinic.com who all promise amazing results at a fraction of the cost a patient would pay in the U.S.  There are several areas along the US-Mexico border where clusters of dentists operate within convenient driving distance from Southern California or Las Vegas where one could take a bus tour that will transport you across the border to get your work done. Sounds great, right? Hundreds of dollars in savings and a vacation to sunny Mexico!

Why is dental work cheaper in Mexico?  Well, for starters there are lower operating costs and dentists are not required to have malpractice insurance.  However, there is the reality that many dentists on the border are less advanced and use less sophisticated technology and infection control procedures.  Unfortunately for one of my clients, he discovered the hard way how good dentistry can go terribly wrong.

My patient recently traveled to one of these clinics to have his cosmetic dentistry completed. Within one week of returning he was in my office in terrible pain.  One of his new veneers was cracked and all 16 restorations had to be replaced.  The dentistry he received was so inferior that he will likely lose 6 of the 16 teeth he had treated. I prepared a 45-page document for this patient in an attempt to help him recover the money he spent south of the border, but without the proper protection in place, he will end up losing most of that money. While we were able to correct what went wrong, he lost not only the money he spent in Mexico, but had to spend much more to correct the really poor dentistry.

If you are considering having major dental work done, before you book your seat on a south-bound Greyhound, please talk to your general dentist about your options – there are affordable ways to get the work done that you need that don’t involve a passport and a margarita.

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