Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dental Work in Los Algodones, Mexico (Part 1)

Posted from Yuma, AZ      (Click on Pics to Enlarge)

So our last post was at the Grand Canyon. So why Yuma, AZ when it's still fairly hot down this way? We came to Yuma to get some dental work done in Los Algodones, Mexico. We booked 8 days in the Escapee Co-Op named KOFA here in Yuma to give us plenty of time to get all of the dental work completed, and a few extra days should we need it for any complications.

So why did we decide to take the chance and have dental work done in Mexico?  Mainly one word COST.  We did as much research as possible before deciding to go to Mexico by reading forums, personal blogs, and looking at as many reviews on the internet as we could find.  In our travels, we have also spoken to many folks who had dental procedures done in Mexico (and lived to tell about it).

I am a dental "chicken".  I don't like going to the dentist and make no bones about it.  For some reason, I've been blessed with pretty healthy teeth through the years, however.  I've managed to have only one tooth filled when I was 18 YOA and a second filling just 2 years ago.  About 4 months ago, the tooth with the old filling broke into several pieces.  Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about this.  Karen reassured me that it was not the end of the world.

Most of you probably know that Karen was a dental hygienist for 28 years and a dental assistant for 7 years prior to that.  Fortunately, that gives us a bit of an "edge" when it come to dental procedures and the need for (or not) to have something done.  More on that a bit later.

This blog on our experience with Mexican dentistry is going to be broken into 2 parts.  Today's blog, Part 1, will be on selecting a dentist and the logistics of getting into and out of Mexico.

Part 2 will be on our actual experiences with the dentist we selected, along with associated costs and waiting times, etc.

DISCLAIMERS: We decided to choose Sani Dental Group for our dentist in Los Algodones.  There are literally hundreds of dentists, with both small and large practices, in a four or five block area of Los Algodones. As stated above, after doing a lot of research and reading a lot of reviews, this is why we chose the dentist we did.  This does NOT mean that this is the correct (or best) dentist for you.  DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!
We also still have dental insurance (Delta Dental) in the US.  Sani Dental Group will actually complete the necessary paperwork to enable you to file with your dental insurance group for a $30 fee.  I do not know how, or if,  other dental offices in Mexico handle this.


On to Mexico!

Getting To Los Algodones

Finding Los Algodones is very simple and an easy drive.  Since we are staying in the Yuma area, just jump onto Interstate 8 and drive west into California. Take Exit 166 and head south on Rt. 186 (Algodones Rd/Andrade Rd) for 1.5 miles.  You'll pass by the Quechan Casino on your right and Sleepy Hollow RV Park also on your right just prior to reaching the large parking lot owned by the Quechan Indian Tribe also on your right.

At this point you'll need to decide whether you want to park in the parking lot and walk across the border or drive your vehicle into Mexico.  We opted to walk across the border and unless you are spending a lengthy (meaning several days straight) in Mexico I see no reason to drive across the border.  The parking lot is fenced all around and the Quechan Tribe has security which drives through the lot on a regular basis.  The current cost to park all day is $6, well worth it in my opinion.

Since I was going in to have a crown inserted, we knew that we'd be coming down for 3 days at least.  Although you can just walk in to most dental offices off the street, we had made online appointments.  (More on that in Part 2).  Our first day we were expected at 10:30 AM, so we were in the parking lot at 9:48 AM.  This was off season and on a Wednesday, so the lot is not very full at all.

The parking lot literally dumps pedestrians right at the entrance to the border crossing.  I felt a bit anxious (for no justified reason) about our crossing the first morning.  Here's a look at the vehicle crossing into Mexico, with the pedestrian sidewalk immediately to the right.

It is VERY easy to get in to Mexico, a bit harder to get out.  This is the turnstile to enter Mexico.  No officials, nothing to slow you down at all. Once you swing through the gate you're in Mexico.

Getting to the Dental Office

Because we had made online appointments, Sani Dental had given us a map and instructions on how to get to their business.  Very simple.  Do not make any turns, stay straight, cross over "A" Street, then "B" Street, and they would be mid-block on the left side.  From the border to their office was approximately 1/4 mile and a very easy walk. Early in the morning the streets are now crowded.

Pic By:
The most unsettling thing for me were the street vendors.  Don't get me wrong, they weren't rude or too "in your face", but still not the type of shopping experience which I like or am accustomed to.  Because we were in somewhat of a hurry to get to our dental office, a simple no thank you and a brisk walking pace was all that was needed to get through the gauntlet.  Note:  The street vendors are set up on the sidewalks so that you have to pass by them, or walk in the street, which I don't recommend.

It took us only 8 minutes from the time we left the car to being in front of the Sani Dental Group's Alamo Street office.  Pretty good I thought for not ever being here before.

We went inside and checked in with the receptionist and advised her of our 10:30 appointment. NOTE: Do not be afraid of communication problems with the staff.  We NEVER had any problems throughout the entire 3 days we had work done here. If the particular dentist, assistant, or whomever didn't speak fluent English, there was always someone close by to interpret.  (Again, more on this in Part 2.)  We filled out a 1-page new patient form (very simple compared to the US since HIPAA rules do not apply in Mexico.

After the form was completed we were directed to the waiting area.  This was now 10:29 AM and remember our appointment isn't until 10:30 AM.  The reception and waiting areas are very modern and clean.  (Better than many offices I've seen in the US).  The waiting area boasts very cool air conditioning, along with flat screen televisions on the wall and several computer stations to "kill" time.

That's going to be it for Part 1.  In the next entry I'll go into details on what work we had done and do more of a step-by-step blog on that work (including costs).

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


  1. Thanks for this post, it is very helpful to us folks that do intend to go west of the Mississippi River next winter and check out those dentists. We agree, the cost is a huge factor and all our research points to a great bargain and quality care.

    1. Stay tuned for Part II where we'll discuss prices and specifics of our experience.

  2. Great detail. This is very informative. We have Delta Dental too so that makes this really of interest to us. Thanks!

  3. Trust me, Delta Dental will look really bad. Stay tuned.

  4. It is amazing the number of dentists, optometrists, and pharmacies in that town.

  5. yep I will be stopping in Yuma to get a crown replaced very soon... timely post indeed

  6. I can identify with you. I had bad experiences with dentist when I was around 10 years old, and I still hate to go. I am almost in a panic! In the last 20 years, I have not had a bad experience, but each time, it is the same..... I hate it!!

    Algodones is a nice town to visit and shop. No town is nice for going to a dentist!!

    Good luck,

  7. Thanks for the logistics; looking forward to Part II. Had Delta Dental when we were working; but no more.

  8. I like Ksren's glasses on Facebook.

  9. Thanks for sharing valuable information.