Who knew going to the dentist could be a lovely adventure where you learn and have great food? Read on for details about medical tourism in Mexico.
I packed my passport, water, and an overnight bag for Los Algodones, Mexico. This journey was familiar, having traveled here many times with family and friends. The three-hour drive took me along Highway 10, passing our local casinos. As I turned onto Highway 86, the expanse of agricultural land, often referred to as America’s breadbasket, stretched out before me. Here is everything you need to know about medical tourism in Mexico
The Salton Sea Draws You In
About an hour into the trip, the Salton Sea appeared on my right. Despite its frequent appearances in the news due to its shrinking size and declining fish population, this 342-mile body of water intrigues me. Although tempted to veer towards the sea’s edge, I pressed on, driven by a scheduled appointment.
Westmoreland Date Shake
My familiarity with the route led me to my regular pit stop halfway through my trip. The Westmoreland Date Shakes is a must-stop for its date shakes are made with generous portions of date pieces. Not only are they delicious, but I learned they are very filling and will be able to sustain me through my 12:30 p.m. dentist’s appointment.
While sipping the shake, leisurely browsing the store is fun. They have an enormous inventory of Mejools dates in various size boxes. Plus, I found offerings like comb honey and exotic jams, and they even recently added freshly made grab-and-go sandwiches.
Town of Los Algondones, Mexico
Having journeyed to Los Algondones twelve times before, I’ve gathered a wealth of information about medical tourism options for dental procedures, prescriptions, and eyewear. This charming town extends a warm welcome within easy reach of Palm Springs, for it is three hours away on good highways with very little traffic. Its allure lies in medical services and the opportunity to savor delectable Mexican cuisine while basking on scenic outdoor verandas.
Why I Opted for Los Algodones, Mexico, for Dental Care
My parents diligently ensured we received the necessary dental care during my upbringing. However, as years passed and dental coverage became scarce, my dental health took a backseat. In contrast, my sister, residing in Texas, routinely crossed the border near Brownsville to access dental checkups and cleanings in Mexico.
Upon relocating to Palm Springs, the need to address my dental concerns became evident. I decided to find a dentist in Mexico and tend to my oral health. Seeking recommendations from Facebook, I zeroed in on a choice in Los Algodones.
Admittedly, I was looking for satisfaction factors. Yes, when I started going to Mexico, there was a bit of anxiety, which has now disappeared. Instead, I look forward to the trips.
Pro Tip: It’s worth noting that Los Algodones operates on Arizona time when daylight savings isn’t in effect, which is something to bear in mind when scheduling.
Finding a Dentist in Los Algodones
No matter how you get a name for a dentist, be sure to explore their website thoroughly. Reviewing the practitioners’ qualifications and costs prompted me to secure an appointment. The area has been discovered, so make sure you have an appointment before you arrive.
I want to clarify that there are many terrific dental groups and individual dentists with practices in this town. Do your research and remember that the prices you see on websites for services are more than likely the price you will pay for your procedures.
Navigating to the Dentist’s Office
Following well-marked signage along Algodones Road eliminates concerns about taking the wrong exit from Highway 8. A straightforward journey southward for roughly three miles leads to a noticeable sign indicating the last parking area before the border crossing.
Parking on the United States Side of the Border
While many individuals choose to drive across the border, I’ve found that a guarded, well-fenced, paved lot offers secure parking for a nominal $10 per night. This arrangement eliminates the hassle of navigating the border crossing with a vehicle. Upon payment, you’re directed to the lot, equipped with an easily accessible pedestrian exit that leads to a short walk to the border.
Strolling the Brief Path to the Dental Clinic
Before you cross into Mexico, military personnel guard the area. You may have your luggage inspected. Recreational drugs cannot be brought into the country. I suspect that is what they are looking for.
Prepare for vendor solicitations inquiring about your dental or eyewear needs. A polite “I’m all set” response keeps you on course.
Rest assured, the dental office of your choice lies within a convenient walking distance from the border crossing. The town’s small size centers around medical tourism, leaving room for only modest hotels, eateries, and an array of independent vendors.
Checking in for Your Appointment
I chose a large dental group. If you have made an appointment with an individual dentist, some of the information below may not apply to your appointment.
Expect to provide your profile information upon arrival, followed by a state-of-the-art x-ray scan of your teeth. Some waiting time might be involved before proceeding to the next diagnostic step. The waiting room, characterized by its impeccable cleanliness, boasts comfortable sofas, a television, and water for your convenience.
The subsequent phase involves a consultation with the diagnostic team. During this discussion, two team members review the x-ray findings and outline recommended next steps.
In my most recent visit, they pointed out an infection on the x-ray, and after deliberation, I followed their suggestion for a root canal. Since I was at a large dental group, a specialist for root canals was assigned to me, and my appointment was made an hour later.
My personal experience involved the replacement of old fillings with 11 crowns over time. The group crafts its crowns on-site; choosing to wait necessitates a two-night stay. For reference, the cost of a crown hovers around $160. Prices listed on their website are generally accurate, with limited room for negotiation.
Lodging Options During Dental Treatment
Three lodging choices present themselves:
Proceed through Immigration, then drive to a Yuma, Arizona, hotel about 12 miles away. The Historic Coronado Motor Hotel offers a delightful stay, tracing its origins to 1937 as the inaugural Best Western establishment. Today, refurbished rooms feature ample modern amenities, including abundant electrical outlets and advanced phone chargers.
The Quechan Casino, conveniently positioned at the Algodones Road exit from Highway 8, appeals to many due to its shuttle service, ferrying guests the three-mile stretch to the border. Parking at the casino is complimentary.
I prefer remaining in Los Algodones to avoid spending time in immigration lines. Hotels like Cielito Lindo, Hotel Hacienda Los Algodones, and California Hotel offer pristine accommodations with nearby dining options. Room rates range from $60 to $80 per night. I have stayed in all three and enjoyed each for various reasons.
Culinary Delights and Water Safety in Los Algodones
Lovers of Mexican cuisine will revel in the culinary offerings available. My fondness for Chili Rellenos remains steadfast. Enjoying a meal accompanied by a beer for approximately $10 at most establishments is possible. Don’t miss visiting Mi Casa Es Su Casa and La Parrilla.
While I had traditionally opted for bottled water, I ventured to inquire about the safety of tap water. Having consumed lettuce-topped tostadas without issue, I decided to take a chance and indulge in water served in a glass upon request.
This decision proved successful, and it’s worth noting that filtered water is readily accessible. Vendors even distribute water, recognizing that not all visitors are accustomed to the region’s high temperatures and direct sunlight.
Homeward Bound: A Recap and Reflection
Upon completing my dental visit, my hotel conveniently dropped me off at a nearby shrimp vendor. Positioned strategically near the border, this vendor presented an array of fresh Baja shrimp packed in ice.
A bit of friendly negotiation secured me two pounds of four-inch shrimp for a mere $20. The vendor ensured their safe transport by packing them in ice and double bagging the package, which I affixed to my overnight bag’s handle for easy border passage.
Heading to the Border and Going Through Immigration
Many people have bags of prescription drugs, everything from blood pressure medicine to Retin-A. Prices are incredibly cheaper in Mexico. My purchases usually include allergy medicine and occasionally an antibiotic I use when I can tell a sinus infection has started to influence my life.
Pro Tip: Two things to remember: Ensure you have water and a bathroom trip before entering the line to return to the US. It can snake a couple of blocks and take a while to get back to your vehicle.
I’ve discovered if you head to the border before noon or after 3:00 p.m., your wait time is very short compared to other times.
After going to Immigration, where your passport is checked, you walk through a large tunnel-like walkway with roll-barbed wire to cross the border into the United States.
You come out less than a block away from the parking lot where your car has been secured for your stay. In my case, I got out my cooler and put the fresh shrimp into it for a refrigerated three-hour drive back to Palm Springs.
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Medical Tourism in Mexico
The information above will help you understand the mechanics of going to Los Algondones for medical needs. I didn’t need glasses this trip, but I have no hesitation in having eye exams there and purchasing lenses and frames for approximately half the cost of glasses in the United States.
You can bring your own prescriptions. As a test, I took a pair I bought there for an eye exam in the States and found them spot-on regarding precisely what I needed.
I didn’t mention how much I look forward to these trips. Who knew going to the dentist could be a lovely adventure where you learn and have great food? We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more ideas on things to see and do while embarking on medical tourism in Mexico.