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Although dental tourism has been around for a long-time, the prices that most Westerners face to maintain their dental health at home is making more and more people consider overseas surgery, especially for expensive procedures like dental implants.

And while a trip to the dentist may not sound like your ideal vacation, a small border town in Northwest Mexico called Los Algodones is drawing travelers to the dentist chair in the thousands, especially from countries like Canada and the United States.

The self-styled dental capital of the world, there are hundreds of dentists located here. For dental tourists, the expertise as well as the incredibly low dental implant costs in Los Algodones is enough reason to head for Mexico.

With people from Western nations flustered by the sky high prices of dental implants that their local dentists charge, the following are reasons why it costs way less in Algodones.

Dental Tourism: Why Dental Implants Cost Way Less in Algodones

How Much are the Prices?

You’re planning on covering the cost of travel to Mexico in addition to your dental implants, so how low are the actual prices? On average, a single dental implant for Westerners costs:

Average Western Costs

➡ US $4,270

➡ CAN $5,591

➡ UK £3,045

➡ Eur €3, 479

➡ AUS $5,500

➡ NZ $5,900

By comparison, in Los Algodones, also known as Molar City, the cost of dental implants is around:

Average Mexican Costs

➡ US $1,500

➡ CAN $1,962

➡ UK £1,067

➡ Eur €1,218

➡ AUS $1,946

➡ NZ $2,076

A more expensive treatment based on dental implants is the all-on-4 system. Here, a whole arch of teeth (either upper or lower) can be replaced with just 4 implants. The price for Westerners at home is steep:

Average Western Costs

➡ US $20,000

➡ CAN $26,000

➡ UK £14,000

➡ Eur €16,000

➡ AUS $25,000

➡ NZ $26,000

Whereas, in contrast, the Algodones’ all-on-4 costs are around:

Average Mexican Costs

➡ US $9,000

➡ CAN $11,780

➡ UK £6,407

➡ Eur €3, 7,307

➡ AUS $11,682

➡ NZ $12,455

If you’re wondering why the dental implants are so affordable in Molar City, you’re not alone.

Some people wonder whether it’s because of low-quality dental work. Thankfully, the reality is quite different. Let’s see the main reasons behind the low dental implant costs in Los Algodones.

Lower Operating Costs

Unlike in western, first-world countries such as the US and Canada, it costs much less to run a dental practice in Mexico.

Maintaining a dental clinic and paying the local staff, including qualified and experienced dental professionals, is not nearly as expensive as it is in the US and Canada. As a result, dental clinics in Mexican cities such as Los Algodones are able to offer much lower prices.

So even a modern, well-equipped dental facility with top professionals working there will be able to operate on a much lower budget than a comparable one in, say New York, Toronto, London or Sydney.

Dental Tourism

High Competition

Los Algodones has 300+ dental clinics and 900+ dentists. It has the highest rate of dentists per capita in the world.

There’s high competition among the clinics, which keeps an additional check on the prices, keeping them from spiraling out-of-control.

These clinics also know they have to maintain a high-quality of services – despite the lower prices – to attract a steady stream of international dental tourists.

Lower Living Expenses

Just like operating costs, the living expenses in Mexico are also lower than in Western nations. It’s not just about “cutting costs” as the costs aren’t that much to begin with.

Less Red Tape

This is yet another reason that translates into lower dental implant costs in Los Algodones. A lot of the bureaucratic red-tape that businesses in the western world have to face is eliminated at destinations such as Mexico.

This is a good difference for Mexican dentists as well as dental tourists who visit Mexico.

The Most Popular Destinations For Medical Tourism

The Dental Tourism Myth

So, there you go. Now you know why dental implants cost way less in Algodones.

It’s simply a myth that dental tourism means risking your dental health. With the right information, you can easily find reliable clinics in Los Algodones, as is the case with other destinations.

For Westerners looking for less expensive dental work, Algodones is a great destination, and if you are traveling in the Southern US, or Mexico, then you may be tempted to look in on a dental clinic in Los Algodones if you’re nearby.

If you need affordable implants, plan your trip to Algodones confidently. You know that despite the lower dental implant costs in Los Algodones, you know it’s a place where you can get quality dental work.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

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    28 Comments

  1. I never did see what the cost of dental implants is in Los Algodones.

    • Hi Cindy, in our second pop out box we list the average cost of dental implants in Los Algodones.

      It’s underneath text which says “By comparison, in Los Algodones, also known as Molar City, the cost of dental implants is around” and we have listed the value in various western currencies.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  2. I have friends who live in Arizona and they seem to love going down to Mexico for their medical – I think I’ve maybe just seen too many horror films which paint the country’s healthcare in a poor light, because from what you’ve said it sounds like everything is pretty first class … not a shack in someone’s backyard like I’m imagining :D!!!

    • Haha yes, facilities are definitely more advanced than you’re imagining!!

  3. Pretty certain I deserve a vacation after a trip to the dentist for the trauma of the chair so I like your idea of combining them.

    • Absolutely – kill two birds with one stone right! I would definitely rather recuperate on a beach with a fruity cocktail than at home in my lounge chair!

  4. I traveled to Mexico for surgery a few years ago, and the cost of my gastric sleeve was one-third of the price that it was in the US. I know that weight loss surgery isn’t dental work, but it’s all surgery in the end. I did get borderline anxiety about the skill of the surgeons in the lead up, but it was fine. I actually really found it helpful to search for Facebook groups and find other people who had been in the same situation and they could answer questions from personal experience as opposed to finding information on the web. I would definitely go to Mexico for dental work if I needed it.

    • Glad to hear that you had a positive experience Alleen and that your surgery was successful. I can definitely understand being scared before the trip, but if you complete thorough research, ask questions, source out reviews from previous patients etc, overseas surgery can be a really good option.

      Great tip on joining relevant Facebook groups – there do seem to be social media groups for every topic nowadays!

  5. I’m always amazed that the same healthcare can have such a huge difference in cost – borders are imaginary lines we’ve created as a human society, so it blows my mind that the US can charge so much when other countries offer the same quality and service for cheaper. It’s disgusting how Western society has privatized and monetized healthcare for a profit.

  6. Thanks so much for the information Meg!

    • You’re welcome Viki – glad it was helpful for you 🙂

  7. I think that it could be very risky to get healthcare in another country, especially if you need a long time to recover from surgery, and if something goes wrong once you’re home I’m assuming you would have very little recourse.

    • Hi Christia, the risk is always mitigated by how much research you do, there are fabulous facilities all over the world, it’s just a matter of investigating, asking questions, and getting recommendations / patient testimonies. You’re definitely right that if you need check ups or follow up appointments and you’ve already returned home you’ll have to seek out a local doctor, but that’s something to discuss with the medical staff at the facility you choose, ie how much recovery time you’ll need, possible complications etc.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Is this something insurance would cover?

    • Hi Maybelle – generally not something your domestic health insurance would cover, so in that sense you’ll have to weigh up the costs of traveling + overseas care vs the excess you would pay on your health insurance for having the procedure at home. Give your insurance company a call though as every policy is different 🙂

  9. How does it work flying back into America if they prescribe you with meds afterwards for the recovery. Guessing I can’t fill a Mexican prescription in Texas right?

    • Hi Nina, you’re correct – you can’t fill a Mexian prescription in Texas.

      If your dentist prescribes painkillers or antibiotics you can either wait until you get home and get a prescription from a US doctor, or fill this prescription in Mexico. Many people fill it in Mexico because it’s often cheaper, but you’ll have to make a personal decision as to which you feel more comfortable with – ie Mexican pharmacy employees may not have any medical training, and a large percentage of drugs on the market in Mexico are counterfeit, so you’ll have to get a recommendation from your dentist / do research to confirm that you’re buying from a licensed pharmacy.

      Other pros and cons to weigh up on filling in Mexico vs the US are whether dosages and drug names are different, which is something you’ll have to ask your dentist. Also, keep in mind that product descriptions and instructions will likely be in Spanish.

      To bring prescription medications to the US from Mexico they must be medicines approved by the FDA, and you must declare them to customs when you cross the border, presenting a valid prescription. You can generally bring back reasonable amounts of medications for personal use, but they’ll be confiscated if it appears that you’re stockpiling.

      The CBP currently allows you to bring up to 50 doses of a medication without a U.S. prescription. But the laws are always changing so I recommend to confirm on the US Customs website before you travel.

  10. I would just highly caution people to plan very carefully … I think it would be useful if you included in this post which questions people need to ask. Reiterate that they should know what they are signing up for. ie what are the standards that are in place, what sort of safety guidelines are in place, where did dentists graduate etc.

    Yes, Los Algodones is actually a very good choice for people who want dentist work, but just because you have a good experience here, doesn’t mean you should think that all medical tourism would be safe – always research first.

    • Absolutely Hailey – it’s always important to complete thorough research because ultimately your health comes first. Thanks for providing insight into the questions people should start out asking, great recommendations to put them on the right track.

  11. Lol so I’ve had my teeth done in Mexico and my only mistake was partying too much 😀 FYI yes it’s a vacation but it’s also a surgery, and sitting in the dentist chair hungover SUCKS! FYI

    • Good tip! Yes I can’t imagine that being much fun!!

  12. I’ve had really positive experiences in Los Algodones with the actual dentists – one thing I would say though is to avoid snorkelling while you’re in Mexico afterwards. It’s probably one of the most popular tourist activities, but I picked up an infection from it, and I read too that the water pressure from diving can cause your surgery site to bleed. You obviously want to take full advantage of having a vacation but your priority needs to be recovery – I think this is a very big danger of combining medical with tourism. Either travel for medical, or travel for tourism. Or take it easy if you’re mixing the two.

    • Yikes sorry to hear about your experience Diana, though glad to hear that the actual medical care you experienced was positive. A really good lesson for others to heed … not something I would have thought of!

  13. I found out that most practices in Mexico only take cash. Is that safe to travel with that much money?

    • Hi Kathe, yes you’ll find that many practices in Mexico will only take cash, so that’s definitely an important question to ask when deciding on a facility. You should be fine traveling with the money for a procedure, but obviously take every precaution to keep it safe. Keep it locked in the hotel safe as soon as you arrive, don’t make yourself stick out as a target for theft by flashing big wads of cash around, or wearing flashy jewellery etc. It’s important to note too that if you’re traveling with more than $10,000 USD you need to declare it to customs on entry into Mexico – though surgeries here don’t cost anywhere near that much.

      Hope that helps!

  14. True, they are cheaper, but what happens when you have a problem with your implant or the all on 4? Are you going to catch the next flight to Mexico? I guarantee your local dentist isn’t going to be interested in helping fix Mexican dental work. You will likely pay significantly more trying to fix the situation. Travel there yes. Replace body parts, think again.

    • The majority of people who seek dental work in Mexico stay for at least a week afterwards for recovery (which is where the beach vacation combination kicks in!). Provided you undertake proper research and avoid work from doctors or surgeries who can’t provide valid credentials it can be a really good alternative 🙂

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