Having no dental insurance, we decided to join the thousands of other RV’ers (and other non-insured folks) who travel to Mexico for dental and vision work. The cost of dental and vision work in Mexico tends to be anywhere between 50-75% of the cost within the U.S. so dental tourism has become a huge draw for many without dental insurance. There are at least 3 cities well-known for medical tourism: Mexicali (Baja California), Nogales (near Tucson), and Los Algodones (near Yuma).
Since we were already at Quartzsite, Los Algodones was the closest option for us. Also Los Algodones seems to be the most popular choice for most RV’ers which means there was a lot more information online regarding dentists and people’s experience.
Yeah, I know, it’s Mexico and it’s cheap which sounds pretty shady. Like dentists in the US, it’s important that you do your research before you randomly pick someone. I’ve certainly had bad and good dentists in the US and it’s the same thing in Mexico. Surprisingly, many of the dentists in Los Algodones have either received their dental education within the US or else continue their education through US accredited universities. There is a lot of good information online regarding mexican dentists: What Clinic and Dental Departures provide reviews, rv bloggers often post their own experiences, and even tripadvisor has a Los Algodones forum.
Since I had to get two implants done (let this be a lesson to those who eat WAY too many sweets!), I did a fair bit of research to hopefully avoid becoming one of the horror stories I read online. We decided to visit Dr. Eva Urena (well-liked and highly rated from everywhere I checked) and the periodontist that works in her office, Dr. Luis Barrera. She is awfully popular so it’s necessary to make an appointment at least a few weeks in advance. We were very pleased with her office, personnel, and (so far) the dental work.
Getting into Los Algodones is easy. There is a large parking lot on the U.S. side run by the Quechan Indian Tribe and it’s $6 to park the car for the day. From there, you literally walk across the border and that’s it. Los Algodones is only around one square mile and caters to tourists so you’ll find all sorts of vendors, hawkers, and of course dental, pharmacy and vision businesses. Some of the restaurants smelled great, but when you’re jacked up on Novocain it’s never fun to eat so we had to pass on trying the food. The town feels very safe and we did notice various military personnel around the perimeter. Since it’s such a huge source of income, I’m assuming the Mexican government doesn’t want any incidents to scare off the tourists.
Even getting from Los Algodones back to the US isn’t that difficult, just make sure you have your passport. The line at customs moves pretty quickly and usually we waited less than ten minutes, though once when we returned in the late afternoon the line was very long and took around an hour.
Since implant work takes a few trips, we had to stick around Yuma for about three weeks. Instead of staying in one place, we decided to split it between a resort and boondocking. The resort was great since they had a nice hot tub and pool, plus fast wifi at the main area which meant I was able to update all my apps (sometimes it’s the small things in life that mean so much). Then we spent some time boondocking and enjoying some quiet time without others nearby.
We did get to experience our first rodeo while in Yuma. It’s different and definitely something to enjoy but I think once was enough for us. We watched the bucking broncos, bull riding, steer roping, trick riding, barrel racing, but I think we liked the mutton busting the best! Mutton busting is where 3-5 year olds ride a sheep until they fall off. These kids are made of some serious stuff; after falling, most just got up and shook it off. Here’s a short video:
Yuma’s weather makes it a peak destination for snowbirds in the winter. We’ve been here two winters now and definitely agree the weather is perfect. Unfortunately we have to be back in the summer to follow-up with more implant work. That means experiencing 110+ degrees and hoping the RV will stay cool enough with both air conditioners running full-time… but it’s a dry heat, right?