This should be fun.

Just before we left for vacation in February one of my teeth started bothering me. I went to my dentist and discovered that I had an infection going in a tooth that had previously had a root canal. He gave me antibiotics, and the infection cleared up and wasn't an issue while we were gone.

When I got back I visited an endodontist to see what could be done with the root canal tooth. Sometimes they can do some mildly awful procedure and it will be all right. Unfortunately, my tooth turned out to be cracked.

It needs to come out and have either a bridge or an implant. Dang.

So, I went back to my regular dentist yesterday for his diagnosis and to discuss my options. (Here's where it starts to relate to Mexico, everyone.)

If I choose to do the bridge (which means crowns for the adjacent teeth and the fake tooth in the middle) here are my dentist's prices:

Extraction $236.00
Bone graft $200.00
Each crown $1,127.00
Each crown $1,127.00
Each crown $1,127.00
Total $3,817.00

Here's what the prices are in Mazatlan at Mexican Dental Vacation:
Extraction $60.00
Three tooth bridge $1,100.00
Bone Graft not sure
Lab Fees $240.00
Total $1,400.00

I actually have a dentist recommendation in Mazatlan who I am going to call on Monday, so I don't think I'll use Mazatlan Dental Vacation. I just used their prices for a demonstration. I plan on making an appointment for when we are in town in May, and hopefully have this work done by my new Mazatlan dentist and save myself some big money.

Just for fun, my US dentist also gave me prices for:
Whitening trays made for my teeth & whitener $395.00
Veneers/Crown (each) $1,127.00
Implant (Complete) (est) $6,000.00

From the Mazatlan Dental Vacation price list:
Whitening trays made for my teeth & whitener $160.00
Veneers/Crown (each) $330.00
Implant (Complete) $1,600.00

I know, these prices are horrifying - no matter where I get the work done. But the difference is really amazing to me.

The prospect of dental work is never a positive one, but at least with my Mazatlan plan I won't have AS MUCH pain when I pay for it.


Ameloblast said...

Here's the thing though:

If I were to look in your mouth afterwards, chances are I'd be able to tell which work you had done in Mexico and which you had done in the US.

Sometimes it's because the Mexican work is better than the more "expensive" US work. But that's the exception rather than the rule and usually means that your US dentist was more of a thief than a dentist.

Bottom line is buyer beware, as in anything that we spend money on. Unfortunately, most patients don't know if the work being done is good and only judge the quality of dentistry by the lack of pain and how "nice" the dentist or hygienist was...

On the other hand, over the last few years, I have been seeing an increase in quality of latin-american dentistry. But again, quality is directly proportional to cost. The cost of dentistry down south will probably always be less than that of North America (assuming the same quality of work) because of lower cost of living there.

Nancy said...

Ameloblast, can you help me with some strategies for figuring out if a dentist will do quality work for me?

I have some recommendations, but they may be the "it didn't hurt" type rather than real knowledge of the quality of work.

I have had very good dental work over the years and don't want to make a mistake with this implant/bridge decision.


Nancy said...

Ameloblast said...

That's a tough, tough question to answer. It takes time to build trust with any professional no matter where in the world they are.

My family (including myself) saw a dentist for many years whom we trusted. It was only after I finished dental school and was able to evaluate his work did we stop going. His work was adequate, not great, but the main reason we switched is because I realized that he was charging for more time for cleanings than the hygienist was actually using.

You'll have to use your "gut" to feel things out. My gut starts to get a little uneasy when I see:

1. A high staff turnover.
2. A push for unnecessary dentistry (ie. a push for cosmetic stuff that you never really had a problem with before).
3. You feel that the dentist appears rushed when working on you.
4. The sterilization (or even operatory) area doesn't appear very organized and clean.
5. Who do the clinical staff (assistants, hygienists) in the office have their dental work done by?

Ask around about your potential dentist (your friends and neighbours could be the best source of reference material). How long has the work that the dentist done for them lasted?

Ask the dentist to show you what they are finding wrong with your teeth...show you on the xray or on the tooth itself if possible. Dentistry isn't quantum physics where you need to understand complex mathematics, most times when something is wrong with a tooth or gums, there's some objective sign of that.

Finally, realize that not all dental work can be ideal. That's because people aren't all made the same and individual circumstances sometimes call for compromised treatment. But this should be explained to you.

For most patients, how the tooth looks and feels afterwards is really the only way they can measure if things are good. You also need to make sure the gums and gumline don't become chronically irritated or swollen. And make sure that floss doesn't stick or shred when you floss around the teeth.

Ameloblast said...

Good luck with the move. Mexico will always have a place in our hearts because we got married there.

Ann said...

Hi-- Just tapped into your blog because I was looking at dentists in Mazatlan.... aka Mexican Dental Vacations... to see others experiences. I did not have a good one with the MDV office. I got nervous mid-way through and sought a second option. That led me to a third opinion. Needless to say, I did not return to the dentist at the MDV office as his work was NOT good. I did see three other specialist in Maz though, and am now enjoying all their work, which I guess only another dentist can tell me if it is excellent, but I am feeling good that I walked away from MDV when I got the vibe to do so-- there are others out there who have had poor experiences with this office.
On the other hand, I spoke with many people who were pleased with dental work in Mazatlan, from local run dentist offices!

TrailTripper said...

I think where ever you are it is hard to tell the quality of work being done in your mouth. When I was in Mazatlan I ran into a hygenist that told me a lot of positive stories, and her review of several dentists. I had work done at "Mexican Dental Vacations" as well and was not pleased. They didn't follow through on several items but the bottom line was I didn't care for their dentist & later did find he performed poor work. - His english was limited, and the hygenist did most of the interpreting... not the worst thing, but from what the follow up dentist told me, he was working outside his specialty, (although I'm not sure he had one!) The owner(s) of the company don't seem very responsive, and although their services are inexpensive - they sure seem in it for the money!
Go to Mazatlan specialist for your work- all will give evaluations and treatment outlines, using their offices & others there. Good luck