- go to Algodones for dental work, but make sure you know the name of the dentist that will actually do the work. Check out his/her credentials in advance. My daughter saw a dentist in Cancun, claiming to have attended the University of Michigan and having an affiliation with the ADA. A check online proved both claims to be true and her work was successful.
- expect pushback from those who think that dental/medical care in another country is an unaccceptible concept. One woman I talked to told me of a friend whose US dentist refused to talk to her again after discovering she had been to Algodones for work. B's work was checked afterwards by an American dentist: the cleaning and four of the crowns were fine. One wasn't acceptible and one required just two seconds of further adjusting. Dental tourism definitely leads to interesting discussions.
Don't worry, those are temporaries, and one has a hole with a story behind it.
- be aware of the time zones. Los Algodones is on Pacific time, the dentists operate on Arizona time, an hour later, as most of their patients are snowbirds residing in AZ. Here's the complicated part. Most people park on the US side, in a lot owned by the nearby casino located in California, and walk over the border (as rental cars don't come with Mexican insurance), but is on AZ time. So the lesson learned, is that if you park in the overnight lot, and you are told to move your car by 9:00am, they mean 8:00 am, otherwise you are leaving parking lot at 10:00am and will be expected to pay for another day. My experience ended with an altercation with a not so understanding sheriff from the reservation. Are you confused? So were we. You've been warned.
- pay attention to pricing for optometry. I require special lenses a version of which were available, but took 11 days to process, with prices comparable to those in Canada. I elected to shop for frames instead, intending to buy the lenses at home. Upon checking online, the frames were less expensive via mail order.
- eat tacos at Molcas', where "if you don't like the food you don't pay." We were there on multiple occasions and ate beef, goat, pork, fish, shrimp and chicken tacos. Two tacos each, one margarita for the boy and a Diet Coke for me - $12.
- stay in Yuma or the Hacienda in Algodones. We did both: two nights at the Best Western in Yuma, very reasonable and included breakfast and two beers or glasses of wine at happy hour each night and three at the Hacienda - clean and comfortable and lots of people with whom to commiserate, all sailing in the same dental boat.
- plan on time off from the dentist, difficult when it is impossible to know how long you will be at the clinic. We went to the Yuma Regional Center for a 10:45am movie matinee, at a cushy theater$5/seniors and $6.50 for adults.
Painting is my stress relief these days. Thank goodness my surgery was on my left hand:
- go to a large clinic that can't tell you who your specific dentist will be. The clinic we attended employed 30 dentists. The clinic's marketing advertised all the right credentials, but your chances of beign assigned to one of the practitioners advertised are not guaranteed.
- schedule an appointment during the December/January holidays. We ended up driving down and back twice as, although we were told coming on December 22nd would allow sufficient time for work and lab time, it didn't work out that way. Also the dentists working in Algodones, may actually live 10-15 hours away, and understandably want to be with their families during the holidays, leaving a skeleton staff and a packed clinic.
- expect to be seen on time. Plan to wait for many hours at the clinic for each phase of treatment. That was the number one complaint of most people I talked to.
- be surprised when they suggest you need a pile of crowns. If your tooth requires a multi surface filling it seems a crown is recommended. We met many seniors who were having every tooth crowned, and a fifteen year old who required fifteen crowns. We were shocked when we were told B needed eight. We agreed to six based on the evidence shown through x-ray and examination. The other two were repaired conventionally by a dentist in California.
- buy controlled prescription drugs (which includes some antibiotics) unless you have a prescription for them. Always buy from one of the major pharmacies.