Yes, "dental vacation" is an oxymoron. I don't think we have ever heard anyone describe a visit to the dentist as having been a picnic let alone a vacation. What it amounts to is getting all that dental work done at one time, in one place, and for a price that doesn't send you to a cardiologist afterward.
How did we learn about dental work in Mexico?
An internet search yields a plethora of information on "medical and dental tourism." When we started asking questions and researching the possibility of going to Mexico for dental work we only had to look as far as our neighbor. They have their dental work done in Tiajuana by a dentist that commutes from San Diego.
From there it was not too difficult to find that the place to go is Los Algodones, a Mexican border town, near Yuma, Arizona, which primarily owes it's existence to the onslaught of snowbirds that flock to southern California and Arizona for the winter. How it all got started is not actually clear. What is evident is that it works.
Choosing A Dentist
What is difficult is deciding which dentist to choose from the long list available on LosAlgodones.com (which is not entirely up to date), if you don't already have a recommendation from a friend whose experience was positive. We looked at most of the websites and we narrowed it down to certain criteria. Then we set out to visit the handful from our list.
We popped into a small office that was not on our list just to get practice asking questions. The office had two patient rooms and a certificate on the wall and an assistant lounging on a dental chair talking on her cell phone. The office was otherwise empty, except for the dentist manning the reception counter. He could have been very competent but the atmosphere and etiquette did not inspire confidence. We moved on quickly.
Alamo Dental Clinic
Next stop, Alamo Dental Clinic. We were greeted by Oscar Dominquez. He was super nice and answered all our questions. He suggested we get a full mouth x-ray ($50) and then talk. Not fully committed, we agreed, thinking at least we would have our x-rays which we would need at some point anyway.
After the x-rays, while waiting to speak with a dentist, we were seated on one of three comfy leather recliner couches. There were a handful of other people waiting to get work done. We took the opportunity to ask if they were return patients or new and how they felt about the work. Quality, it seemed, was not an issue. Alamo received rave reviews from everyone in the waiting room.
Our turn in the chair.
Dr. Gabriella Velez looked at our x-rays and tooth by tooth described work that needed to be done. An assistant manned a magnetic dry-erase board preprinted with numbers and teeth (see photo). Color marks and magnetic pins made visual the work that needed to be done, root canals, bone grafts, posts, bridges. We were struck by the shear amount of work. It would take time. Now you see why it takes a vacation.
We left the office a little stunned and with our x-rays. Our plan was to go home and talk about it. We thought about the other dentists on our list. Back at the RV park we asked as many people as we could find about their experience. We got recommendations for other dentist, tried and true. But, when it came down to it we decided we would go back to Alamo because it felt right. Oscar had been there with Dr. Velez helping us to make a plan A and plan B course of action to pace ourself on cost and time. They took their time and answered every question, offered suggestions, and explained things several times if we were unsure.
We made the right choice.
We didn't know what to expect when we started. There were as many stories as there are dentists in Los Algodones. This was our initial experience and we highly recommend Alamo Dental Clinic. The many reasons for choosing Alamo include: quality of work, professionalism, current equipment, friendliness, they accept VISA, are a member of the ADA (American Dental Association), and best of all, they guarantee their work.
We'll be back with more as we progress through treatment.
Please visit the the Alamo Dental Clinic page on this blog to find out more. You'll find the link at the top in the right sidebar under More Information.