With the out of reach costs for dental procedures in the US, and the extremely limited coverage offered by insurance companies, Dental tourism has become more and more sought after by US patients. There are many countries around the world that draw patients because the costs are so much less, creating the opportunity for incredible savings. Although some destinations are a little less expensive than others, they are all much less expensive than anywhere in the US. Dentists in the US have a disadvantage in the prices they have to charge. To start, education in the US is extremely expensive. A US dentist must first earn a BA degree, which has nothing to do with dentistry, but is an additional cost averaging $40k. Then, the average costs of dental college are 50k per year, for 4 years, just to earn the education needed to be a general practitioner. For any specialization, there are from 2 to 4 additional years on top of that. So, a US dentist will spend from 250k up to 400k to get his education. Those expenses must be recovered in the course of his practice, or there wouldn’t be any dentists. That translates into much higher prices a US dentist must charge, and to top it off, the American Dental Association, acts as a regulatory body and sets the fees to charge the insurance companies. In Mexico the fees are determined by the free market.
One reason Mexico dentists charge so much less, is the educational system is very inexpensive. They have stiff competition to be able to get into dental college, but the government subsidizes the education. To start, the educational process is different. Students in Mexico, get their B.A., general level of education in what they call Preparatorio, or what we call high school, and graduate with their Bachelors diploma. Therefore they don’t waste their time in highschool, but come out ready for college, and to focus on their main career. A dental student will have to take an extensive exam to qualify, but will then go straight into dental college for 5 years to graduate as general Dental Surgeons. After graduation, they must complete a 2 year service, or apprentice program, practicing as for free in government social assistance programs. After that is completed, they get their license to practice on their own. The Mexican government pays for their education in the government universities, but if they go to a private college, the cost is about $5000 annual tuition. You would think that because the cost of study in the US is so much more, the education must be superior. But the truth is in Mexico, dental education is as good as, if not better. They have one additional year of study, plus a two year apprentice program. Also, most dentists in Tijuana, will work under an established dentist part time, while they fulfill the requirements of their 2 year social service apprentice program, With the high volume of US patients coming for dental work in Tijuana, the apprentice dentists get a lot of supervised practice, before they are out on their own.
The much lower costs of education make it possible for Mexican dentists to offer dental treatments at a much lower cost. The cost of living in Mexico is much lower than in the US, people earn much less, and a Mexican dentist has to work for less in order to serve patients. This gives a great incentive to dental patients, coming from the US, which is just across the border, to find great savings on dental procedures. The dentists in Tijuana have the advantage over US dentists because they can operate for less, and can be very competitive for US patients. The competition from the Mexican market can cause a certain amount of resentment by the US market. Often false rumors are inspired to try to dissuade patients from going south, looking for alternative dental options. Besides painting dentistry in Mexico as inferior, which it is not, there is a strong bias from the press. The media will hype the “dangers” of going to Mexico, and exaggerated accounts of people who had problems, because they came looking to score drugs, and who put themselves in bad situations. US media is quick to criticise Mexico, while downplaying the constant problems of homelessness in the streets of US cities, people camped out under overpasses, violence, shootings, and prevalence of crime in US cities. Ask any of the 20 thousand US ex-patriots in Tijuana and Baja California, if they feel in danger while living in Mexico, and they will laugh at you. They have seen all the images of the riots and unrest in US cities, like LA, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland and Chicago. They know that comparatively, things are fine in Tijuana. Just like in any big city, there are areas that one should avoid after dark, but Tijuana gets a bad rap. The city is modern, well policed, and thrives on the tourists of all types, that come to Mexico to vacation, or get dental or medical treatment. The Mexican government is very aware of the need to keep the tourist safe, as well as their own people.
We have established why Mexico dentists can offer top quality dental work to Americans at a significant savings, but what are the factors that make Tijuana a better destination for dental tourism? First and foremost is the proximity of Tijuana to the US. It is just across the border from San Diego. If you live in LA, it is just a couple hours drive. If you live anywhere at a distance, it is much cheaper to fly into San Diego, and take an Uber to the border, than to fly into some other destination, like Singapore, or India, or the Philippines, or Poland. It is also a much shorter trip. And with many dental procedures,it takes multiple trips. If you have a bad toothache, and are in pain, they can’t just do the root canal in one day, and put a crown on it. They will have to clean out the conduits, medicate it, and put you on antibiotics for 10 days before they can continue. With dental implants, a second trip will need to be made to activate the implants after osseointegration or healing. There are many treatments that take time and multiple dental office visits, in order to complete the treatment plan. Taking another long trip to India is not feasible. And what if there are problems later, like a crown chipped or an implant failed? Although a dentist in Singapore may offer a guarantee, like we do in Dr Mexico, and they would fix it,you still have to travel back. It is easy to get to Dr Mexico in Tijuana, both to start treatments, to continue treatments, and to fix any problems.