Posted from Yuma, AZ (Click on Pics to Enlarge)
The final part of our dental experience in Algodones, Mexico deals with the "play-by-play" of the procedures, the costs, and a summary and impressions of the whole experience. If you'd like to see more about the logistics of getting to Algodones, selecting a dentist, or general information on the area please click on Part 1.
When we decided to have dental work done in Algodones we already knew pretty much what we wanted (and needed) done. I had broken a molar (tooth #30) a few months ago, but since there was no pain it appeared that I could hold out until Algodones for treatment. We both wanted to get our teeth cleaned as well. With Karen's prior dental experience I knew that I was looking at having a crown installed. (Of course, fear set in, as I have only had two fillings in my entire life done.)
Once we completed our initial paperwork, which also indicates what you are requesting to have done, we were directed to the waiting area. The first day (Wednesday) there were probably another 10 persons waiting to be seen. The diagnosing dentists rely heavily on panoramic X-rays to diagnose problems. Karen was the first to head into the X-ray room (approx. 10:15 AM). She had a panoramic X-ray taken at a cost of $60. She was not really anxious to have another panoramic done as we had both had this type of X-ray done in Casa Grande last November. I was next (approx. 10:30 AM), but they only took an X-ray of the single tooth area where I was going to need the crown. Cost for my X-ray $10.
We knew already that a crown was in my future. The assistant quickly showed me a zirconium crown (their price $450). I had already decided that because of the position of the molar (back) that appearance was not crucial to me. With input from Karen, we decided on a standard porcelain fused to metal crown (their price $160). At this point, expected procedures are written onto our charts and associated costs are outlined. We agree to the work and the procedures begin.
Sani Dental Group has three offices in Algodones. The real differences between the offices are the amount of personal attention a patient desires to have. We were fine with their largest office on Alamo Street. This seems to be where the majority of their patients come. The other offices are called Sani Platinum and Sani Class. Click on this link to compare the differences.
For those who have had crown work done this is probably old news, but a new experience for me. Day 1 consists of grinding the old tooth down to accept a new crown. An impression is taken to facilitate the construction of the permanent crown. (Sani Dental has their own lab, so the permanent crown will be installed on Day 3.) Today, however, a temporary crown is cemented into place and the height is adjusted to create the desired "bite".
Our wait was approximately 30 minutes I was led upstairs again to the same treatment room. Dr. Emmanuel was my attending dentist each day, but the assistants changed daily. Today the temporary crown was removed and the metal coping for the final crown was fitted. I also had Dr. Emmanuel grind the temporary crown a bit to make for a better "bite" fit. We were back in the car again by about 1:30 PM. Again, an easy border crossing. Customs took about 5 minutes today.
This was my final day of treatment (hopefully)! My appointment was again for 12:00 PM. We arrived at 11:50 AM and I was taken upstairs at 12:20 PM. The final porcelain to metal crown was cemented into place and I had a cleaning done. Out of the chair today at 1:00 PM.
I lived with the new crown through the weekend and decided that it needed just a small bit of adjustment to lower the height to improve the bite. (Karen thought this was normal.) We decided to go back on Monday to purchase eyeglasses and drop by the dental office again (without an appointment) to have the crown adjusted. Wait time was about an hour this time and time in the chair was about 10 minutes. The adjustment helped GREATLY.
Summary and Our Impressions of Our Experience
The actual prices of Sani Dental Group's procedures can be viewed on their web page. These prices were actual and we encountered no deviations from these. This was very helpful as it gives you an idea upfront of what it's going to cost.
Our costs were as follows:
Karen- Cleaning $30, Panoramic X-Ray $60 TOTAL $90
Steve- Cleaning $30, Single X-Ray $10, Porcelein to Metal Crown $160 TOTAL $200
Just as a point of comparison, when Karen left the dental field in 2012, typical costs in the northern Virginia area would have been (these will vary by region, of course):
Panoramic X-ray: $75
Periapical X-ray: $15
Porcelein-to-Metal Crown: $1700
2. Quality of Dental Work
(Karen's Impressions) The ability of the dentists to make diagnoses relies too heavily on X-rays. She noted that a "hands on" inspection of her mouth was lacking. No periodontal probing was done to check for any potential problems below the gum line.
The cleaning was performed using a cavitron (ultrasonic cleaner) and scaler use was minimal at best.
She felt that my crown work was very good and comparable, or better, to dentists in the US.
Our experiences indicated that Mexican dentists are geared toward "procedures" such as crowns, bridges, implants, etc. They do not concentrate as much on diagnoses and routine cleanings. If you intend to have "procedures" done in Mexico you would probably be best served to visit a familiar dentist in the US and then develop a treatment plan. Get the prices from the US office, then do a comparison with the Mexican dental offices. I can't imagine that you would not save a bunch of money.
Would be do it again! Yes, and we probably will if we need to have work done. We will, however, probably have our next cleaning done in Casa Grande, AZ in about 6 months before we leave the area for the winter. The reason for this is that with our Delta Dental plan we only pay 20% of the cost agreed upon between Delta Dental and the dental office. Our cleanings last November were $60, which meant that we only paid $12 out-of-pocket.
Hopefully, these two blogs on our experiences with one Mexican dentist will give you a bit more insight to enable you to make a responsible and more informed decision about whether crossing the border for dental work is right for you.
Thanks again for taking a look!