‘Molar City’ in Mexico has most dentists per square meter in the world
Each year, thousands of tourists cross the border into Mexico for dental work in the small town of Los Algodones. The municipality Vicente Guerrero, better known as ‘Los Algodones’, is located at the intersection of California, Arizona, and Baja California, Mexico and has just over 5,000 residents. Although small, los algodones dentists make up the most practitioners per square meter in the world.
Medical tourism to Mexico is steadily growing as more states and towns offer a greater variety and quality of care. Specifically, the amount of dental practices in Los Algodones attracts tourists from all over the United States seeking a lower cost alternative.
With an average of one dentist per 8 residents, incoming patients looking for the best dentist in los algodones, Mexico find many options for everything from root canals, to cavity fillings, and dental crowns.
Overall, there are close to 600 dentist’s offices in the town which was once famous for its cotton plantations. This history is not apparent, however, and the town is building its fame as a modern haven for cheap and good quality dental care.
Not surprisingly, more than 90% of their dental clients come from the United States and Canada. In fact, Los Algodones is sometimes referred to as ‘Molar City’ by both residents and tourists alike.
Fleeing from the cold to sunny Mexico
The phenomenon of ‘medical tourism’ in Mexican border states evolved over decades, and originally had nothing to do with medical care.
In the 1960’s many older citizens from the United States and Canada began migrating to Mexico to avoid the harsh winters in their home countries. The warmer climates of the latin country also made it easier for people with conditions such as arthritis. The most popular destinations were those adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border such as Baja California, Sonora, and Chihuahua.
The first dentist in algodones Mexico to notice this trend was Bernardo Magaña who in 1969 saw an opportunity to offer cheaper care for tourists. Prior to the dental boom, the town was full of bars and brothels, but Magaña sought to change that. He ran for mayor and won, ousted the bars and brothels, and worked to publicize his dental practice to tourists.
Part of this was done through newspaper and magazine ads in American publications, which inevitably bothered local dentists. They couldn’t understand why a los algodones mexico dentist was allowed to advertise in a country where they didn’t practice, but the tension only grew from there.
Eventually, American insurers started to cover work done in Mexico as part of their standard plans. Other dentists caught on and moved into the vacant spaces cantinas used to occupy, and this eventually led to a boom in services.
Part of the appeal is that patients can also purchase some types of medication without a prescription in Mexico. This made it easier for retirees to find and get what they needed for their treatments across the border.
Cheaper and better dental care
For the snowbirds vacationing in Mexico, the deal only gets better since they return home once winter is over with tequila, souvenirs, and dental work already done. The total savings can amount to more than 70% of the costs in the U.S. for the same procedures. Many dentists in Mexico are able to even obtain American certifications which increase their value.
For example, the average cost of a cavity repair in the U.S. is $225 USD, in Algodones it’s $45 USD. Similarly, dentures can cost $3,100 USD in America and only $450 USD in Mexico.
Those living near the border may find it more convenient to get dental work done, since it is only a short trip to Mexico. Southern Californians, for instance, may easily search for and find the best dentist in Tijuana. And although the trip is longer for most, it is often worth it due to cost and quality of service.
Story by Fernando Acevedo