Wednesday, May 23, 2012


THINKING OF GOING TO MEXICO FOR DENTAL WORK?  Here's my experience and costs.
3 weeks ago a root canal treated tooth went bad. It was done in Santa Fe 5 yrs ago.  I checked prices here---was outraged----decided to go to Mexico---100 miles away.

The closest Mexican town is Palomas---3 miles from Columbus, NM.  So down I went---trailer and all to this end-of-the-world town. (residents say it themselves) It's unique in many ways and I will report later.
Settled into Poncho Villa St Park.  (my permit from last year is still valid so I camp free---if you need electricity add $4 a night) Turns out Lynn (caravan member) needs treatment too so she joined me here.
Together we cross this border in search of a good dentist.
This is about all ther is to the town---perhaps 5 blocks long and 4 wide. It depends on tourism and medical work for its life.  Word is--It's safe.
THE FAMOUS PINK STORE-----biggest one here---restaurant, gifts etc.
Optics and dental are the mainstays of their economy.
FIERO DENTAL CLINIC ----(6 chairs) lots of dentist--The biggest--most impressive clinic here---clean---well run--friendly.
I needed an APICOECTOMY ( for any hope of saving the tooth.  Needed an oral surgeon---he came on monday--and here he is doing the deed. Cutting off the top 5 mm of the infected tooth---removing the bad stuff---filling in the hole with goo that integrates with bone.  A translator stood by the whole time-----easy peasy. (also took the picts---they seemed surprised and flattered that I wanted them)  I'm sparing you the gory ones.
Operation's over--felt no pain---he shows off his stitchery.
I'm very impressed with this surgeon/doctor---he worked with confidence and sensitivity---doing a difficult operation.  Total charge: $350. (Dr Alonzo Ramirez--tel# 915-497-6884 )
Since I'm here--will wrap up three more dental loose ends---a crown ---  a root canal with post and replace an old filling.  meet Maria---an excellent--english speaking young dentist with great chair-side manners.  Lynn and I both selected her.  Lynn had extensive work done and had priced her work before leaving NC.  -----Shocking comparison: Same work done in the US: $7,500.  In Mexico she paid $1,400.  Savings $6.100
Meet our hero dentist: Maria.  She understands both sides of dentistry--technical expertise and patient relationship.  (Tel# 505-220-5798 ) Now I will make good on my title question:
Root canal Mexico:    280        root canal US:   900
Post:                              75        Post                   150
Crown:                        190        Crown               550
filling:                           60        Filling                95--250
Apicoectomy               350       Apicoectomy     750
total                             955                                 2,445                             difference 1,490
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Permit me to rant about the outrageous discrepancy in dental prices.  You would expect slightly higher prices---but this is ridiculous.  Why can't American dentist be happy with a really good living ($100,000 plus)?  Why do they shoot for a million?  Capitalism is not working in the dental business---because of protectionist trade associations. I guess it won't be competitive till more people do as I do.  Our whole nation suffers incredibly ---real pain--they postpone preventive treatment because Dentist charge so G--Dammed much.

Individually they may not be evil.  But hear me dentist of America---your pricing structure is unfair and you participate in a world of needless pain and ill health. 

The deeper truth is that high priced dentistry, like high priced funerals, and high priced legal service is a CULTURAL DISTORTION we have "slipped into"--We need to vote ourselves out of it.
Meanwhile, I will vote with my wheels and go to Mexico.
Wonder how the most enlightened country in the world---Norway deals with dentistry?
Further reading:



Boonie said...

Whoa, that one picture of a mere tooth was pretty bad. Spare us any future pictures of an appendectomy or heart surgery. (But Kodger brain surgery would be perversely fascinating.)

Thanks for the telephone numbers. You forgot to mention that there wasn't a two hour wait in the line back into the USA, as is the case with Algodones/Yuma.

Glad you mentioned the issue of protective trade associaions. Wherever prices are really high, it isn't greed that's to blame. Everybody is greedy, but most people can't inflict their greed on customers, because of competition.

Ultimately it's government/business crony capitalism that is to blame, while insurance/finance companies enable an endless inflationary spiral.

Anonymous said...

Dig into how much the u.s. dentist gets of the bill. You'll find I'm sure that like M.D.'s better than half goes to pay insurance. leaving the doctor to pay his inflated U.S. taxes and grossly inflated education costs, and other business expenses out of the remaining half.

Americans are a litigious society. It's always someone Else's fault, for I am faultless! So insurance companies take advantage

The People Paying the bills are equally as guilty as greedy insurance companies. The Doctors are in fact the smallest part of the problem

Kevin and Ruth said...

And even you paid too much Randy. To get the real prices that Mexicans pay, you have to get away from the gringo tourist areas and border towns. Paid 200 pesos ($16) for an inspection and cleaning this past winter.

I don't understand why so called "western" society has put the medical profession on such a financial pedestal.

(oh, and you might get more comments if you got rid of the annoying "prove you're not a robot" thingy.

TomInOrlando said...

In my Hygienist's chair, and looking out the window, I spied a Maserati Coupe. "Whose car is that?" I asked, Dr. XXX's she replied. "It's what he drives to work."

Fortunately I never needed much in the way of dental work, except to replace the occasional old filling. So glad I got all that done when I had Dental Insurance.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's great! I'm curious where you got the $550 quote for a crown in the US. I had one last fall at $850 in a small town in the PacNW, and I shopped around for that price, the others were $950 to $1150.

dr.dave said...

I'm a veterinarian (in Phoenix). Average annual salary for vets in the USA is $92,000. I do volunteer spay/neuter clinics in Mexico and work with Mexican vets. Average salary for the Mexican vets I've worked with is around $10,000, and that's a good wage they say. It's true you can't compare the level of veterinary care in the US with Mexico, however that discrepancy in pay is completely staggering. I am sure the discrepancy in bills to the client is also staggering.

To be fair US vets also graduate with ten times the school debt a Mexican MVZ (their vet degree) does. The real issue is money...its a giant illusion. You buy a car at one price, drive it off the lot and its another. You buy a house one day and the next its worth twenty percent less. Or more. It only works if we all agree this has this value and that has that value...

Anonymous said...

Corporations were formed so that individuals could get by with things by placing blame on a legal fiction rather than take responsibility for their own part in it.

People do things under the guise of "business" that they wouldn't dream of doing if they didn't have "business" as an excuse for it.

The same sort of personal responsibility shunning mechanism is what enable Hitler to carry out the holocaust.

If you consider the implications of it, it is a truly frightening thing to constantly be surrounded by -- as every American citizen is on a daily basis.

Make no mistake the system of commerce that was once formed to be the servant of humankind is now the devourer of it.

Sondra said...

Americans get gouged from every direction, mainly because we just TAKE IT--- and do nothing about it...we get a second job, and are made to feel like under achievers if we cant Afford the Good Life!

Randy said...

Thanks all for your comments---
Dr Dave: You are so right about education debt contributing to the problem. A civilized country would collectively pay for education---most do.
Anonymous; You have stated the problem with elegant succinctness:
"The system of commerce that was once formed to be the servant of humankind is now the devourer of it."
Sondra: I'm working on a personal plan to evade the predators: FRUGALITY.

Ed said...


More laws, more governmental control to fix a problem that has been built on previous governmental control.

Example: I could not get a simple dental cleaning in the state of Arizona without also paying for x-rays and a dental exam because I was a first time patient. Was this because of the dentists greed? No, it is Arizona law!

Randy said...

Ed: Do you suspect that the dental lobby got that law passed? I do!

Jim said...

RANDY: "Meanwhile, I will vote with my wheels and go to Mexico."
Love it! Too often we forget we have OPTIONS in this life. How much trouble is it to keep your passport current?

Randy said...

Sail: The border at Palomas seem ok with drivers license.--Other borders???? A passport is a thing worth having for lots of reasons and it is good for 10 years---get it.

FlyToAGreatSmile said...

hey guys..I won't argue with your conversation. I would like to throw Costa Rica out there as a good option for dental tourism. It's an easy direct flight from many US cities and the prices are about 60 - 85% less than anywhere in the US. The clinics are internationally certified, and they use cutting edge technology. Aside from that, Costa Rica is a fantastic place to visit and relax. The people are very friendly and the natural beauty is really amazing. If you are interested, just let me know and I'll share some information on clinics and prices.

Anonymous said...

How much do they charge time fix four front teeth

Anonymous said...

How much do they charge to fix four front teeth?

EQUIGUY said...

My experience with The FIERRO DENTAL CLINIC in Las Palomas, Mexico has been VERY POOR. This leads me to advise anyone contemplating using this clinic to read below.
They performed shoddy work. I have consulted with a top oral surgeon here. Fierro put in four implants; one came out; one is at an angle and poorly placed. This will necessitate removing the angled implant and doing a bone graft to repair it and the lost implant and then putting in two new implants. The other two implants that Fierro put in are shorter than they should be, but I cannot afford to replace them with implants of an appropriate length.
Fierro did not respond to repeated phone calls when the implants got infected.
Fierro caused me to make two totally unnecessary trips of 11 hours driving each.
Fierro personnel were extremely rude, saying that they were too busy to talk and hung up on me twice.
I made an appointment at the Fierro clinic for implants and drove down and was informed that Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, who did the implants, was not there. The secretary said that they called but did not get me. However, she did not leave any message about the cancellation. I asked why they did not leave a message and she did not reply. I checked my phone and there was one unanswered call from the day before.
I made an appointment for next week.
I arrived but Dr. Gonzales did not have the proper size implants.
These two unnecessary drives cost me a full day each. Each day consisting of eleven hours driving and I had to leave at 3:30 in the morning to make the appointment at 9. I also lost two full day’s work. Cost to me (gas, depreciation for mileage) is $384.54 per trip.
On my third trip Dr. Gonzales placed four implants. I asked him about antibiotics three times and he said not use any, but to put on an antiseptic paste which I did. During this session the clinic director, Guillermo Sanchez, demanded most of the money agreed to, even though there were still four crowns to do. I also mentioned the two unnecessary drives and what they cost me. He just shrugged, and did not even apologize, let alone suggest some reimbursement.
I got an infection and called the clinic and asked that Dr. Gonzales call. During that call, someone at the clinic suggested the wrong kind of antibiotic. It did not work. I called to report on my lack of progress, and again asked that Dr. Gonzales call. If he could not call, then to have someone else who could give me proper advice. No one ever called. The secretary said that I should take clindamycin, but told me the wrong dose. When the infection persisted, I consulted my local dentist who doubled the dose of the clindamycin, which eventually cured the infection. I had to take it for over two months at a substantial cost.
No one from the Fierro clinic ever called to enquire about my problems resulting from their work.
The local dentist took radiographs and noted that one implant was missing. He referred me to an implant specialist. I consulted with this specialist to learn that I will require extensive repair.
I set up an appointment to call to speak with Dr. Daniel Gonzales, who did the implants, and the director Guillermo Sanchez, as well as to have someone there to insure there was an accurate translation. I called on time. The director of the clinic was not there. I spoke briefly to Dr. Gonzales, but he had to get off the phone and suggested that I make an appointment to see him again. I suggested that I be reimbursed some money and was told a flat NO. The women who spoke English well, twice refused to give me her name and said she was too busy to talk, but would call later; then she hung up on me. She has not called.
Daniel Marks, VMD

Randy said...

Equiguy: Thanks for your input. Now that I've experienced their work--I agree with you. My apicoectomy did not work--lost the tooth.
Now I only trust my teeth to Rubio Clinic in Algodones. They installed 4 implants for me and they all work fine. Rubio has installed more than 10,000 implants and guarantees them for a lifetime. Each cost about 2000--payable in 3 stages. There's a breakthrough in implant design that cuts the osseointegration time to 3 months.
See my latest blog entry about getting my smile back.

TravelingJ said...

I've had great experience in Palomas. I recently went through a company called Beyond Borders Dental ( They scheduled my care and even had financing options for my $1,500 worth of work. I was able to make payments for 1 year! They have a shuttle service that runs from Santa Fe and Albuquerque and drops you at the clinic in Palomas. Work was excellent and the process was easy.

Town Square Dental said...

I've heard dental work in Mexico is fairly cheap, I know someone who lives in tucson AZ whow ill drive there for dental work

Sameer patil said...

Thanks for your blog it was really helpful