As the cost of dental care and prescriptions medications are soaring and the percentages of expenses covered by insurance are shrinking, thousands of Americans and Canadians are heading for Los Algodones, Mexico on a daily basis. Visitors to Los Algodones are finding heavily discounted prescriptions, eye-glasses, medical and dental care. But the main draw is the 70% or more savings on dental care.
With over 350 dentists in a 4 block area within a 10 minute walk from the border, Los Algodones is said to be occupied by more dentists than anywhere else in the world – and 90% of its clientele is American. Dentists in Los Algodones do any kind of dental work that US dentists do including dental implants, bridges, root canals, fillings, dentures and extractions. There are plenty of good dentists, and even top-of-the-line facilities and equipment that are on par with ones found in the US. While all the dentists are educated in Mexico, many receive additional training in the United States and belong to the American Dental Association.
Los Algodones is the northern-most city in Mexico, located 7 miles south of Yuma, Arizona off Interstate 8 at the California – Arizona border. The border crossing is officially Andrade, California.
You can park on the USA side of the border and walk less then 1 block, which is what most people do, or park in one of the attended parking lots in the town. The majority of the businesses are located less then 4 blocks from the border.
During the day the town is filled with older Canadians and Americans. Everyone speaks English and the currency of choice is the US dollar.
The US Department of State updated its travel warnings for travel to Mexico on April 22, 2011 to include some popular resort destinations, but Los Algodones is not mentioned in their travel warnings. Click here to read the entire travel warning.
Finding a good dentist in Los Algodones is no different than in the U.S. Its best to get a referral from someone you know. Start asking around. With so many people now traveling to Los Algodones for dental work, chances are you won’t have to look too far to find someone who has been there. I also ran across two different companies that help connect patients with pre-screened dentists. Dayo Dental is in Phoenix, and will even coordinate round trip transportation. Dentists of Algodones is in Yuma. I do not have a personal experience with either of these companies.
If you are planning on purchasing prescription medications while in Mexico, remember that you must declare the drugs at Customs upon your return. It is a good idea to have the written prescription, and to keep the medication in the original container.
Things to remember before you go:
- Have a valid passport! You may be able to walk across the border into Mexico without documentation, but you will need to have a passport to return to the U.S.
- Be prepared to pay cash. Most of the Mexican dentists will not accept checks. They will most likely accept a Visa card, but be prepared to pay an additional fee if you use one.
- Make a list of any medications you are taking or if you are allergic to any medications to show your dentist.
I recently interviewed someone who has been going to Los Algodones for more than 10 years and will share that in Part 2 of this posting.