(Updated for 2022)
A Comprehensive Guide to the risks of All-on-4 dental implants in Mexico
This is an article about all the ways you could possibly get financially screwed on an all-on-4 dental implant trip to Mexico. It is the absolute most comprehensive look at the risks and costs associated with traveling to Mexico for dental work, specifically all-on-4 procedures. We look at the scams, tricks, & backwards marketing tactics found in medical tourism in Mexico. There is nothing to download, no paid links, nor any cost for this information. All the information is laid our right here on this page…100% free…you know, the old-fashioned kind of free…nada…zilch…
…so bookmark it!
This is a shoot-from-the-hip style article, written from an insider’s perspective & holding nothing back. It is long, detailed, & informative. It contains crucial information that every patient traveling to Mexico should know. So sit back, and get ready to read the most important piece of information you have found on all-on-4 dental implants in Mexico yet!
This is updated this as of the 2022 and will be updated if anything changes. If you like this article, CLICK HERE to follow us or get more information.
WHO IS THIS ARTICLE FOR?
You are American. You’ve already looked into getting an all-on-4 in the US. Reality has come crashing down on you with prices that look similar to a moderate sports car. You are already past the point of anger, frustration, sadness, & confusion over everything. You just want to eat & smile again!
Yes, it sucks. Without getting into politics, the healthcare system in the United States is expensive! Now you are hearing about Mexico as an option…but are thinking… and your friends are saying…and your family is saying…and everyone seems to say…”That is crazy. You are crazy!”.
Yes, it is crazy. It is crazy that a first world country has no reasonable solution for dental situations such as yours. Even as healthcare becomes a political hot-button issue in the US, dental is never on the agenda. But YOU are not crazy! And it isn’t just people in the United States. Did you know that people from Canada, Australia, Switzerland, & the UK also deal with overpriced healthcare and resort to options abroad?
So let’s get real…what are your options?
1. Don’t get your mouth fixed and pull out the bad teeth.
2. Borrow money for your new dentures & fix them in the US.
3. Seek options outside of the US.
Those are basically your three options.
Fortunately, there are other countries offering dental options that meet and often exceed US standards. But just as in most things in life…you’ve gotta find the catch!
There’s an old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This is probably a wise mindset to come with when looking for healthcare outside of the US.
So in this article, we are going to address all the ways in which you can get screwed financially when going to Mexico for an all-on-4 treatment.
IS IT REALLY CHEAPER TO GO ALL THE WAY TO MEXICO FOR AN ALL-ON-4 TREATMENT?
There is no way it can be cheaper right?! Flights, hotels, rental cars, taxis, restaurant food, time-off work, medication…and every other way a person could lose money on a trip to Mexico….there is NO WAY someone will come out ahead you’d think. After all, you are not comparing apples to apples here right? Getting help in Mexico means you actually have to GO there, which drives the cost up considerably. How could it possibly be cheaper?
There is only one way to figure out if it is in fact cheaper.
#1 We need to look at every possible way in which a person can spend/lose money on a trip to Mexico.
#2 We must then compare it to the dental quote received in the US.
#3 We need to find a safe & trustworthy doctor specializing in all-on-4 procedures in Mexico.
In the 2nd part of this article, we will address the logistical options for a trip to Mexico. For now, let’s look solely at the actual procedure and see if the financial margins are even there. Is the cost of the all-on-4 in Mexico cheap enough to even begin factoring in the cost of a trip? Not only that…the cost of the headache/stress associated with planning the trip. What’s the price of that?
First we need to figure out…
HOW DO YOU GET THE PRICE OF ALL-ON-4 PROCEDURES FROM INDIVIDUAL CLINICS?
Well…you’ve got to contact them and ask. Email is usually the best for this since you can send x-rays or treatment plans provided by your US dentist. This helps get a more accurate treatment plan & price. You should NEVER take any one person or clinic’s word on anything related to your health! Do your OWN research and use common judgment when searching for a doctor. This is a huge decision, and this article is designed help you know how to do your own research.
Time to start searching for a doctor or clinic…but…
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH CLINICS ARE GOOD OR BAD?
Start with a Google.com or Bing.com web search. One thing to note is that in most the dental tourism areas of Mexico, all the top players in all-on-4 procedures usually sit near the top of Google’s search results. You will find them in the organic & ad results. Most of the ads for dentists in Mexico are expensive and only the top clinics in each city can afford these. You are going to want to search terms such as “all-on-4 mexico”. Other keywords would be dental implants or oral surgeon. This will help you focus on clinics & doctors specializing in this procedure. Not all clinics perform all-on-4’s often.
CHOOSING A CLINIC – THE RED FLAGS!
Let’s talk about red flags…the loud sirens…even the quiet ones that you could easily miss. There are certain things about a dentist’s image, message, or way of doing business that should raise alarming red flags. Throughout this article, we will raise those red flags as they appear.
START YOUR SEARCH
So you start your web research for, let’s say, (All-on-4 in Cancun). You start to load up some of the different clinic’s websites in tabs across your web browser. As you start to look over each of the websites, you begin to realize that most of them are about the same. They all contain treatment information, information about the clinic, prices, etc. So where are the red flags?
RED FLAG #1 – The website itself. Any company that is focusing on bringing English patients to a Spanish speaking country should have a pretty good English website. After all, their business is built around conveying their image to patients before they arrive. If they have not exercised due diligence with this, what other areas of their clinic hold these same unprofessional qualities.
RED FLAG #2 – Do the doctors speak English? Did you hear the doctors speak on camera? Look over the website and definitely look closely at the “About Us” or “About Our Dentist” section. Do you ever actually hear the doctor speak on camera? And if they do…was it a script or voiceover? Do these doctors actually speak English at this clinic? If there is no videos anywhere of the doctors speaking English…this is a huge red flag!
Many doctors in Mexico do not speak English and all information is conveyed through a translator. Make sure you will be communicating with your doctor in English. Unless you can speak Spanish of course!
There are many great dentists in Mexico who only speak Spanish! However, for a procedure as detailed as an all-on-4, you must be able to communicate with medical professionals in a language you can understand. Also be prepared to communicate with your doctor in Mexico after returning home, as you may have questions or concerns related to your procedure months later.
RED FLAG #3 – Testimonial videos. Testimonials from happy patients are great. There is nothing better than a happy patient telling their story, as it is first hand experience with the doctors. However, dental implants & all-on-4’s are not normal everyday dental procedures. These are surgical procedures performed by experienced professionals. It can take many months for mouths to heal and truly know the success or possible failure of the surgery. Doctors know this.
If a patient is asked to perform a video interview testimonial immediately after their procedure at the clinic…RED FLAG! Issues with dental implants & all-on-4 procedures often happen many months after the procedure is performed. Do a Youtube video search and learn about “failed dental implants”. You’ll get a better understanding of the timeline in which other patient’s implants failed.
If the clinic shows video testimonials from patients many months after their treatment, this is a more reputable and honest way to present these cases. It is common practice in all of Mexico for clinics to record patient videos for marketing purposes. While watching these is helpful to hear other patient’s experiences, always take them with a grain of salt. They may be great for simple procedures, but think about what it would be like making a testimonial immediately after receiving brand new teeth. Imagine what it feels like being lightly pressured into giving a video testimonial directly in front of the doctor who just did your procedure….while your mouth still kind of hurts. Would the patient ever say anything bad about the doctor? If the doctor has immediate “after-the-procedure” testimonials for dental implant or all-on-4 patients…red flag! (Waiting until a follow-up appointment is always best!)
Video testimonials are not a bad thing. Also, realize that many clinics are forced to make these simply because the competition around them is doing it as well. The best thing to do is to look for testimonials given many months after the procedure, possibly from the patient’s own home or at a following check-up.
Also, ask yourself if you plan to give this kind of video testimonial for this company.
RED FLAG #4 – Reviews. Reading good reviews can be reassuring. Reading bad reviews can help you avoid bad dentists. Keep in mind that bad reviews are a part of any public business. And to be fair, in medical, it is hard to please everyone. However, you should still read the reviews for doctors/clinics. Don’t get discouraged by a few bad reviews because as you start to research, you’ll find that most dental clinics anywhere in the world that have a lot of customers have a couple of bad reviews. However, you can still get a good feel for how many there are and what exactly they were for.
Use your own knowledge and understanding of human psychology when reading other peoples reviews. You can never know for sure what is true on the internet…you can only use your best judgment to try to understand each one. Read the doctors responses to negative reviews and think about if it was handled professionally.
Also, not all review platforms are equal! Review platforms like Google Reviews are honest review platforms that are not controlled in any way by the owners of a company. If you are using any kind of website that is a directory of doctors or clinics, most likely that website makes it’s revenue from the doctors themselves. Many of those websites allow the clinic or doctor to hide negative reviews or control them in some way. This does not mean that these reviews are fake, it just means there is control over which ones you see. After all, the doctors are paying these website owners for top-rankings within their directories. These website owners obviously don’t want to lose their paying customers. It benefits the review platforms to hide negative reviews. You should always search multiple review platforms.
To find extremely upset patients, visit websites like PissedConsumer.com or RipOffReport.com and search for the doctors name you are looking to learn about.
WHY AM I SEEING THE SAME DOCTORS ON MULTIPLE CLINIC’S WEBSITES?
There are normal and also somewhat unusual reasons why you may be seeing the same doctor on multiple websites. Let’s look at both.
Most of these dental communities are quite small and the same doctors & specialists often work at multiple clinics. For example, endodontists (root canal specialists) in the US usually have their own practice. In Mexico however, they often travel from clinic-to-clinic performing root canal treatments. Endodontists are simply not needed daily at each clinic. Many clinics do not like to keep endodontists on staff permanently and only bring them in when necessary. The same goes for many other dental specialists, including oral surgeons.
You could be contacting multiple clinics, but ultimately be seen by the same oral surgeon. It is smart to ask if the clinic has a full-time specialist in prosthodontics, periodontics, or oral surgery on staff. If they do, they are probably performing more all-on-4 procedures than other clinics.
Collaboratives & Associations are another way in which doctors group together to market themselves. SOTA Dental is a collaborative, and doctors all work together to streamline international patients.
There is another, somewhat unusual reason you may see the same doctor across multiple sites. It is commonplace for some large dental tourism clinics in Mexico to use many different websites with different brand names. They are often the exact same clinic, just marketed to you a little differently. There a multiple benefits to this from a business standpoint.
1. Allows the company to hide negative reviews/testimonials that tarnished previous brand names. It’s like starting fresh.
2. It presents the company as if they are specializing in a particular procedure, when they are in fact a broad dental company.
You may find that Company A owns individual websites like companyA.com, whiteninginmexico.com, allon4inmexico.com, rootcanalsMX.com, etc. (these are just examples and not actual website links.) Look carefully and check to see what the actual name of the company is when verifying your own research. This marketing trick is used in medical tourism industries all over the world.
OK, you’ve found some nice looking websites. Now that you have an idea of which clinic(s)/doctors you want to contact, it’s time to send your email.
THE MESSAGE & THE WAIT
Patients are usually in one of two situations:
1. You’ve already visited a dentist in the US and have a pretty specific treatment plan from your him/her already. You have an idea of the outrageous price attached to the procedure. You may even have a few options provided by your dentist at home.
2. You have absolutely no idea how to begin with your mouth, all you know is that you cannot afford treatment in the US.
Your first step is to gather all of your medical information. Also, write a detailed description of your particular situation. Finally, send it via email the clinic(s) you wish to get information from.
Did you know that in most US states, a dentist is required by law to give you your medical information such as x-rays and past history? Sometimes they ask for an arbitrary filing fee, but if you arrive in person, you should be able to obtain them without any issue from reputable US dentists. If they can not, something is fishy.
Put all this information together in an EMAIL or contact form, and send away!
Now…you play the waiting game….or do you?
RED FLAG #5 – Response time. All major dental clinics focusing on international patients respond to your inquiries rather quickly. Some clinics have call centers handling these, and others have a personal secretary handling daily emails & phone calls. In both situations, these top clinics usually respond within the same day and in most situations, within the first hour. If the clinic takes too long to respond…red flag!
THE TREATMENT PLAN – THE DECEPTION
Once you’ve sent your email(s), you will most likely get emails and phone calls from the top clinics pretty quickly.
EMAIL : If you receive an email back, it may contain treatment plan options and even price information if you provided x-rays or medical details. If you did not send medical images and they are providing treatment plan options right away…big red flag!!!!
RED FLAG #6 – Treatment plans prescribed by non-doctors. Only doctors should ever give medical advice or treatment plans. If information or advice about your health is given to you via a dental secretary, the doctor must give that information to that dental secretary directly. When we say directly, we mean that the secretary is in direct daily contact with the doctors themselves, and not an intermediary. In some cases, clinics may have non-qualified people deciding treatment plans without consulting doctors. Good doctors never risk their reputation! Always ask the person you are speaking with if they are in direct communication with the doctors. You can always just ask to speak to the doctors!
In the world of all-on-4 dental implants, no legitimate doctor can give a guaranteed treatment plan without seeing digital images or x-rays. At the VERY minimum, you must hear about the specific case in detail before giving medical treatment plans. There are many reasons why certain patients do not qualify for dental implants or all-on-4 treatments. Legitimate doctors know this, and would never want their patient to travel to another country and find out they can’t have the procedure (unless they have ulterior motives to sell you something else). This brings us to the next red flag…
RED FLAG #7 – How bad do they want your business? This is the medical care, not car sales. If you’re getting a gut feel like you are being sold to, or the person you are communicating with is focused on getting you in the door…this is a HUGE red flag! Every legitimate doctor cares deeply about his or her reputation. No legitimate doctor would risk a patient’s health if they thought an implant would fail. No doctor wants this on his or her record.
PHONE: You will most likely receive a phone call from someone wanting to speak with you about the details of your procedure. This person should be an open ear for you and truly sympathize with your situation. This is not just a simple cavity after all, it is the difference between chewing or not.
If they seem very eager for your business and are pushing for a date pretty hard, there is a possibility that the person on the phone is a commissioned salesperson or call-center employee. Always ask the person you are speaking to if they communicate directly with the doctors, or if you could speak with the doctors yourself at a scheduled time. All-on-4 procedures are time-consuming cases and most clinics will make time for their doctors to speak with you on the phone.
Good secretaries and patient managers should be in direct communication with doctors. Also, there should be a questionnaire related to your health trying to actually disqualify you for safety reasons before booking you. You should see this as a good thing because quality clinics try hard to verify if a patient is qualified for surgical procedures.
Remember that a doctor can never know 100% for sure if you are a candidate for dental implants until they perform x-rays and sometimes CT scans on you at their clinics. Some cases need to be viewed in 3D (that’s what the CT scan does) to determine if the patient’s mouth can take an implant. No one should be pushing you to come to the clinic to “just see” the doctor. This is a huge investment and should not be taken lightly.
WHY IS ONE CLINIC TELLING ME ONE THING, AND ANOTHER TELLING ME SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
Because of the competitive nature of dental tourism in some major Mexican cities, getting patients in the door seems to be a major focus. Just as in any marketing or advertising…some things look a little prettier on the outside than they do on the inside.
Let’s assume that the clinics that you are in communication with are the good ones…and there are many! We seem to be focusing on negative aspects in this article, however, there are many great clinics and doctors all throughout Mexico. That does not mean that their pricing structures are set in the most logical ways. Just like a company in the US puts $9.99 instead of $10.00 on an item because of its psychological effect, there are ways to make all-on-4 procedures look more appealing in marketing. Let’s look at why prices look different & how these can sometimes seem deceiving.
WHY DO PRICES SEEM INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT FOR THE EXACT SAME PROCEDURE?
1. Phases. Dental implants & all-on-4 procedures often come in phases. There are 2 main phases of the dental implant process separated by 3-6 months of healing time. This means, in most situations, you will be taking 2 trips to wherever you plan to go in Mexico. All-on-4 procedures are often priced by the “phase”, and not by the total cost. For instance, you may see an all-on-4 procedure priced at $4,000, only to realize later that it was just for phase 1. Phase 2 requires the actual denture and will often double the price. However, clinics often display the lowest price in order to attract your business. Always check if the price of your all-on-4 procedure is for both phases, or just for one.
2. Nickel & Diming. Every case is unique. Some patients require tooth extractions before their procedure can take place. Some patients may require a sinus lift, bone-grafts, or sometimes even smaller more obscure procedures before an all-on-4 can take place. This is the nature of the all-on-4 procedure. Many of the other minor procedures are not known to be needed until the patient arrives and is x-rayed. Legitimate clinics will always warn you of these sorts of things, especially after previewing any x-rays you’ve sent them. Some clinics include these extra procedures in your estimated price, and others do not. Also, anesthesia (the sleepy stuff) usually costs extra. So do CT scans sometimes. I know…it’s starting to get confusing. So, the following questions should always be asked to your doctor (just copy/paste):
- Are extractions included in your price? If not, how much are they for each?
- How much is a sinus lift if needed?
- How much is a bone graft if needed?
- Does the CT scan cost extra?
- How much is anesthesia?
- Are there any other unexpected costs associated with my procedure that I should know about?
3. Types of dentures. While there are multiple kinds of materials & styles of dentures, there are 2 common ones to understand. Each type has different benefits and costs associated with them. It is important to understand the removable and non-removable styles, and then let your dentist recommend anything different or specific.
Fixed Denture – This is the most costly, but also most common form of denture these days. A fixed denture requires significantly more planning on the doctor’s part compared to other dentures. This denture stays in your mouth permanently and helps distribute the pressure & load while chewing. This allows the patient to chew tough foods and provides a very secure denture. They usually come in a fixed-hybrid style or full zirconia.
Fixed-Hybrid denture- This is a denture that is a combination sturdy & esthetic materials. It is usually made of titanium & porcelain (or zirconia). This is a very strong denture and very popular.
Prettau® Zirconia denture- Sometimes, you may see the word Prettau® thrown around. This is a full zirconia denture, and is the top of the line in dentures these days. They are made of one piece of Prettau® Zirconia and absolutely beautiful. They, however, are expensive to repair and usually require being sent to the lab in which they were made. Realize that the word “Prettau®” seems to be used like a brand, when it is in fact the kind of zirconia. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THIS! Just because a clinic is offering Prettau®, does not mean they are using high quality materials. Zirconia discs for these procedures can come from anywhere in the world. Using low quality zirconia in a denture is one way to lower the overall cost of the treatment. This is quite unethical. Always ask where the zirconia discs come from for your Prettau® Zirconia denture.
New-technology denture- There are many new technologies recently with amazing scientific advancements. Products such as Crystal® Ultra have started to pop up and are becoming increasingly popular. These new materials offer stronger, lighter, and more economical solutions for dentures. One of the biggest advantages being their ability to be repaired and maintained by a normal dentists with normal dental tools.
Removable Denture – Just as the name implies, these can be taken out of your mouth anytime you wish. These do not require nearly as much planning because the denture can be easily removed for maintenance if needed. These, however, force the gums to share more of the load during chewing. They do have benefits, however, for those who would like to remove them at night or are looking for a more economical solution. Luckily, as technology keeps improving, we are seeing more and more fixed-hybrid options as more companies come into the industry.
4. Brands. Make sure to ask what brand the implants are. There are quite a few different brands when it comes to dental implants & dentures. It is really hard to discuss this topic because it is very subjective. Just as in anything, there are the Cadillac’s of implants & and the generic brands. For the most part, components manufactured in first-world countries have high standards in quality assurance. The following brands are considered to be of high standards:
- AlphaBio Simplantology
- Neoss Intelligent Simplicity
- Sweden & Martina
(the list is not limited to these brands)
5. Seasonal Deals. Many clinics run specials or seasonal deals that significantly bring prices down for all-on-4 treatments. These deals are usually run during slow seasons of business and can benefit the patient if they are able to travel during these times. Some clinics also offer season travel & accommodation options which can also benefit the overall budget.
SO WHAT IS A GOOD PRICE FOR AN ALL-ON-4 IN MEXICO?
Every website claims the bigger discounts, the better deal, & the better service. So then what is the darn going rate of an all-on-4 in Mexico right now?
So, to cut the fat, it’s $8,000 – $17,000 USD. That’s what it is. Please do your own research, however, we have dug and dug on this topic. $8,000 treatment plans are usually from customers traveling at the best discount travel times, in good health (not needing any extra procedures), and in smaller Spanish only speaking clinics. Also, this can be found in smaller towns in Mexico that primarily see Spanish patients. Larger clinics do run specials at certain times and incredibly low prices have been heard of. $10,000 – $13,000 USD is a great price on an all-on-4 procedure (both phases, single arch) if you can find it. These deals usually include high quality implants & are performed by top doctors. These deals come and go, so keep any eye out! Keep in mind that about 75% of clinics display their prices in phases.
Be sure to check if both phases are included in your price. Also, if the clinic is showing a very high price, there is a possibility they cannot compete with the other clinics that perform them more often. Pieces for certain dental implants & dentures are expensive and clinics that buy in bulk often have the best overall price.
I FOUND THE PERFECT CLINIC & PRICE…NOW HOW CAN I GET FINANCIALLY SCREWED?
Phew…all that work…but you found a great place to get your all-on-4 treatment. They get you! They care about you. They understand you and you are starting to feel good about everything. Now how the heck do you get to Mexico without spending an arm and a leg? What are all those little things you’re forgetting about that are going to cost you on this trip down south? Who is gonna try to take your money on the way? It’s Mexico after all…right? You’ve heard the news lately…!
Well, first off, Mexico is big country. You have to decide WHERE you want to go. Each dental tourism area has their advantages & disadvantages. Below we are going to write from the perspective of a frugal person who really wants to know how to get the best deal on a dental trip to Mexico. At the end, we will cover safety.
CANCUN – LOS ALGODONES – TIJUANA
There are 3 main locations to find high-level surgeons in Mexico. There is one on the east coast, one just south of Arizona, and one on the west coast. These locations are all very safe places to have your all-on-4 procedure done. Most clinics in these areas offer many special amenities directed at international patients such as free transportation. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of Cancun, Los Algodones, & Tijuana.
1. Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is a vacation destination for Americans & internationals. It is split into 2 areas, the Downtown & the Hotel Zone. The Hotel Zone feels more like America and has every amenity in the book. This area is very safe & you will barely feel anything except beach life. There is plenty to do everywhere from a vacation standpoint, and transportation on the buses is specifically designed for foreigners. It is cheap and easy to get around by bus. Most clinics include free transportation to and from their clinics & airports for all-on-4 patients. Also, Cancun is not limited to just Cancun itself. There is also Playa del Carmen & Puerto Morelos to the south with all-on-4 surgeons as well.
Prices in Cancun tend to be a little higher than Tijuana or Los Algodones, but are competitive when deals are running.
2. Los Algodones, Mexico
If you’ve never heard of Los Algodones (aka Molar City), then this may blow your mind. There is a little town on the Yuma, Arizona border that is dedicated to dental & optical solutions for their neighbors to the north. It’s a unique town that only opens from 8am-6pm, and is door-to-door medical services. When you see it for the first time, you can’t believe your eyes. There are hundreds of dentists within a 2 mile radius all catering to Americans. This can create great competition but also unusually deceptive business practices to get your business. When patients travel to this town, they usually stay in Yuma, Arizona, and only go into Los Algodones for their appointment. The process of crossing at this border for an American passport holder could not be easier. There is no security when crossing into Mexico, and you walk right across (you will be asked a few questions and need your passport when returning to the USA). Most clinics are literally right across the border, but a staff member from the clinic will almost always offer to meet you at the border. The parking lot is right beside the border and never fills up. This is the easiest logistical solution for dental work in our opinion. Thousands of American patients cross this border daily during peak season. There are tons of places to eat in this little town while waiting around as well.
Prices in Los Algodones are very good as clinics are very competitive in this area. Because of this, there are multiple lab services competing for the dentist’s business as well. This is beneficial in keeping overall prices down for all-on-4 procedures specifically.
3. Tijuana, Mexico
If you are on the west coast, Tijuana may be your best option. Like Los Algodones, there are dental clinics literally right across the border. However, due to the size of Tijuana, there are also clinics sprawled out all over the city. It is important before going to Tijuana to figure out where the actual clinic location is and how you plan to get there. Tijuana is not like Cancun or Los Algodones. It is a medium/large sized Mexican city with all the elements that city brings. Many clinics in Tijuana provide full transportation services from the American border & even sometimes San Diego. Clinics that specialize in helping all-on-4 patients usually have great free VIP services to get you to & from their clinic. Clinics usually also have recommended hotel accommodations that are safe.
Prices in Tijuana are extremely good because of the competitiveness of the area. Tijuana has the most dentists seeing foreign patients due to the higher costs associated with dental implants on the west coast of the United States.
I’VE GOT THE JIST, BUT WHERE ARE THE NUMBERS? HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL?
Traveling costs change seasonally, so it’s hard to know exactly what your trip will cost. So in this next part, we will look at how to calculate your own particular trip and some of the things people often forget.
Let’s break it down into 4 parts:
1. Cost before you leave for Mexico.
2. Actual travel costs.
3. Costs on the ground.
4. Stuff I bought but probably shouldn’t have.
COSTS BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR MEXICO
Your procedure will almost always require at least 1 week in Mexico if you are flying, and 3-4 days if you driving. So you have to decide if you are going to fly or drive?
FLYING: Aside from the actual flight costs, if you are flying, you may need to:
1. Pay airport parking (GOOGLE: AIRPORT PARKING + YOUR AIRPORT)
2. Use an Uber or Taxi to get to and from the US airport. Or ask a friend or relative?
3. If you have anyone depending on you (kids or furry kids), where will they stay?
4. Airport food is terrible & expensive! Bring a package of oatmeal or a cup of ramen. Hot water is free until you can get some cheap yummy Mexican food.
5. Did you get off work? Is this going to be budgeted into a vacation?
DRIVING: Driving has huge benefits because you are totally on your own terms. Also, generally you will need 3-4 days rather than a full week. Usually you can be evaluated by the doctor on the 1st day, planning by the doctor occurs on the 2nd day, and then surgery on the 3rd day. A 4th day is usually requested just incase anything unexpected happens and extra time is needed. We don’t recommend driving in Mexico unless you are experienced with Mexican driving laws. Driving is usually suggested to the US border parking lot only. Again, most clinics offer pick-up services of some sort.
RVING: This is way more popular than you’d think! Los Algodones and Tijuana are very popular for RVers. There are campgrounds near both locations on the American side. Most clinics will pick you up directly from your RV park.
ACTUAL TRAVEL COSTS
We are not affiliated with any of the following companies in these links. As a matter of fact, we are not even going to add links most of the time for transparency. You need to search the airline yourself, but we are going to point you in the right direction.
We always recommend checking KAYAK.COM for flight & hotel deals. Also, don’t forget that some airlines charge more for extra bags. Each airline is different, so pay close attention. The major US airlines are usually ~$25 each way for checked baggage. 1 carry on is usually free.
Also, remember you need a passport to travel to Mexico if you are a US citizen.
FLIGHTS TO CANCUN
Prices for flights to Cancun fluctuate based on the travel seasons. Christmas, New Years, & Spring Break are the main holidays, which coincide with the peak travel season. Flights are the most expensive from mid-December until March. Low travel season is during the summer months when it is hot in Cancun.
Below is a list of all cities and airlines with direct flights to Cancun:
- Atlanta direct to Cancun on Delta, Aeromexico or AirTran for $340 round trip, on average, in 2 hours and 43 minutes
- Boston direct to Cancun on Delta, JetBlue or US Airways for $474 round trip, on average, in 4 hours and 27 minutes
- Charlotte direct to Cancun on US Airways for $758 round trip, on average, in 3 hours
- Chicago direct to Cancun on United or American for $396 round trip, on average, in 3 hours and 45 minutes
- Dallas direct to Cancun on Spirit, American or Sun Country for $316 round trip, on average, in 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Denver direct to Cancun on Frontier, United or AirTran for $391 round trip, on average, in 4 hours
- Houston direct to Cancun on United for $501 round trip, on average, in 2 hours and 17 minutes
- Los Angeles direct to Cancun on Delta, United or Virgin America for $483 round trip, on average, in 4 hours and 45 minutes
- Miami direct to Cancun on American for $367 round trip, on average, in 1 hours and 43 minutes
- New York City direct to Cancun on JetBlue, American or Aeromexico for $387 round trip, on average, in 4 hours
- Phoenix direct to Cancun on US Airways for $689 round trip, on average, in 4 hours and 14 minutes
- San Francisco direct to Cancun on United or Virgin America for $527 round trip, on average, in 5 hours and 25 minutes
- Washington DC direct to Cancun on United for $433 round trip, on average, in 3 hours and 35 minutes
FLIGHTS TO LOS ALGODONES (YUMA/PHOENIX)
Most people who come to Los Algodones come via personal vehicle. Patients choosing to fly can choose to fly to Phoenix or Yuma. There are no flights to Los Algodones. Most round-trip flights from any major city in the US to Phoenix are $400 and under. Deals for $200-$350 can be found regularly. Yuma is a smaller airport that usually costs close to $200 USD to fly from Phoenix. Alternatively, you can choose to rent a car in Phoenix and then drive to Yuma, Arizona. We recommend checking KAYAK.COM for flights from your city to Phoenix & Yuma.
FLIGHTS TO TIJUANA (SAN DIEGO)
For patients coming to Tijuana, it is recommended that you stay in San Diego. Most round-trip flights from any major city in the US are $400 and under. Deals can be found for $200-$350 often. When checking flight prices, it is best to check your options for San Diego as well as Tijuana. Flight prices fluctuate heavily based on the season in San Diego.
COSTS ON THE GROUND
Once you get to your Mexican destination, you know that’s when you are going to get screwed! Right? You’ve seen movies and heard horror stories about bad taxi drivers, getting ripped off, & being taken for the run-around while on an international vacation. While it is always good to be vigilant and aware when traveling abroad, these Mexican destinations are some of the more relaxed when it comes to traveling around town.
TAXIS, BUSES, & GENERAL TRANSPORTATION
One thing to remember, there is NO UBER IN CANCUN! Many taxi drivers despise the idea and even have protest slogans on the backs of their taxis. Don’t try to use UBER is Cancun.
Cities like Cancun have an excellent bus system that runs all day. This makes travel very easy for patients who like to adventure out on their own.
Most clinics focusing on all-on-4 patients in Cancun, Tijuana, & Los Algodones offer transportation options to and from the airport & your hotel. Ask the clinic directly if they provide these services…because they should.
HOTELS & ACCOMODATIONS
ACCOMODATIONS IN CANCUN, MEXICO
There are a couple ways to stay in Cancun. You can stay in a hotel, an AirBnB/vacation rental, or a time-share exchange. Hotels on the low end are ~$60 per night. The lowest priced recommendable accommodations are ~$80 per night.
AirBnB offers incredible deals as low as $14 a day in Cancun from power hosts (reputable renters). Staying near Plaza las Americas in the downtown area allows for cheap food options and easy access to many of the affordable clinics. Plaza las Americas is a mall with a cheap food court if you are really on a budget. You can also find classic American & Mexican restaurants as well.
There are discounted accommodations at 4* & 5* resorts in exchange for your attendance to time-share presentations. You may see these deals when looking for travel deals to Cancun. If you are willing to sit through the 90-minute presentation, and are able to say “No”, you can save thousands on these deals. We have seen all-inclusive 5* stays for as low as $500 per couple. This is just one other way to save a few bucks while traveling in Cancun.
A few of the $80 per night hotels we recommend are:
Krystal Urban ~$80
OH! By Oasis ~$80
LQ by La Quinta ~$80
All of these have been verified and visited by us, have great standards as well great rates.
Again, we are not affiliated with these hotels or websites, so please search on your own for the best deals. We usually use KAYAK.COM, but sometimes TripAdvisor.com has specials on these particular hotels as well.
ACCOMODATIONS IN LOS ALGODONES, MEXICO
When patients travel to Los Algodones for dental treatment, they almost always stay in Yuma, Arizona. While there are some AirBnB options in Yuma, it is not as popular as Cancun or Tijuana. You can find good deals on places to stay, however, on AirBB and other rental websites.
Hotels in Yuma fluctuate considerably depending on the time of year. Many Americans & Canadians travel south to Yuma during the winter months. This tends to raise the prices of accommodations during that time.
A few recommended hotels in Yuma are:
Baymont Inn & Suites
Wingate by Wyndham Yuma
Homewood Suites by Hilton Yuma
Best Western Inn & Suites Yuma Mall
ACCOMODATIONS IN TIJUANA, MEXICO
Patients visiting Tijuana usually stay in San Diego. Since this is an American city, you can find accommodation options on any popular travel search engine. There are hundreds to choose from to match anyone’s budget.
A few recommended hotels in Tijuana are:
Real Del Rio (comes with free breakfast) ~ $82 per night
City Express Hotel Tijuana Rio ~ $80 per night
Puebo Amigo~$100 per night
Lucena~ $126 per night
AirBnB is popular in both Tijuana & San Diego, so it is worth looking into them for deals lower than hotel costs.
FOOD WHILE TRAVELING
Food while away from home can get expensive, but there are a few specific ways to save money while traveling in Mexico.
CHEAP FOOD IN CANCUN
Food in Cancun will get you…in the pocketbook! It is a vacation destination and there are so many places to part with your American cash at higher than usual American rates. You may feel like you are in New York or Miami. Here is a trick for Cancun:
If you stay in the hotel zone because you want the immediate beach, you will deal with higher than normal prices for food. This is the tourist zone with many high end hotels. If you really want to save on food, stay near Plaza Las Americas in the downtown area. This is a modern mall that looks & feels just like American malls. There are many affordable AirBnB’s just above the mall with panoramic views. There are “under $5” food options to get you through the week in Cancun right within the mall’s food court if you are on an extreme budget.
CHEAP FOOD IN LOS ALGODONES
There are 2 reasons you go to Los Algodones. Teeth & Tacos! You will have some of the most delicious tacos you’ve ever had in your life, at just about any taco joint you try. The best way to find the best tacos in Los Algodones is simply to ask your dentist. I guarantee if you ask, they will boldly and proudly recommend the best taco place nearby. You may even find yourself having tacos with your dentist, as some of the dentists down there are really cool & fun! You can’t go wrong anywhere here…because the place is so darn small.
CHEAP FOOD IN TIJUANA
Tijuana is a big city with seemingly unlimited options for food. If you are looking to save on money and have tons of “under $5” options at your fingertips, stay in the ZONA CENTRO area. This is the main downtown area with many food and entertainment options. Did you know that the Ceasar salad comes from Tijuana? Look it up!
STUFF I BOUGHT BUT PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE.
Any experienced traveler will tell you that you almost always go over your budget. It’s important to take into account the entertainment element of each location. Each one of these places will have certain level of unexpected fun. Here are a few things to think about for each for the locations.
EXTRA COSTS IN CANCUN
Cancun is THE most popular international destination for Americans. It has some of the best vacation package deals you can find to any destination from the US. That being said, prices for touristic activities are similar to the US. It is not uncommon to spend over $150 for a dinner for 2 and a bottle of wine. Boat rides, scuba diving, parasailing…you can easily fork out thousands pretty quickly on entertainment.
The good news is, the beach is still free! Cancun has some of the nicest beaches in the world. You can get to the beaches from anywhere on the bus for under 13 pesos.
There is also some archeologically significant architecture in the towns just south of Cancun, specifically in Tulum. And if you don’t know what a Cenote is, look that up!
Use TripAdvisor.com to search for activities that best suit you.
EXTRA COSTS IN LOS ALGODONES
If you are on a budget, Los Algodones is a great option. Unless you are dead set on returning home with everything that traditionally says Mexico, you won’t spend too much in Los Algodones. Most of the shops are selling simple Mexican items that you find in simple markets throughout Mexico. Who knows…you may find something special. Most people just go for tacos & cervezas (beers). That won’t cost you but ~$10 tops.
If you are staying in Yuma, you will find that prices in Yuma are similar if not lower than most areas of the US. There is a mall, movie theatre, and all the amenities of a small American city.
EXTRA COSTS IN TIJUANA
Tijuana is a little harder to get around due to it being a busy city. Transportation via taxi is usually the easiest method, but can easily rack up extra costs in you are not careful. If you stay in the ZONA CENTRO (downtown) area, you will mostly likely have everything your need in that area alone. You will not need to find transportation as you can simply walk everywhere around Zona Centro. For the most part, everything is pretty cheap. There are a few restaurants catering to day-tripping Americans, so be careful and check menus before entering. Beers are cheap, tacos are cheap, & you can easily do Tijuana on a tight budget.
IS IT SAFE TO GO TO MEXICO RIGHT NOW?
(UPDATED 2022)(We are excluding COVID information as it is changing rapidly. Please check official news outlets for COVID related information.)
Mexico is in the news a lot these days, and not always in the best light. Between the immigration situation and political division within the United States, it may seem as if it is not safe to travel to Mexico. But, as we said earlier, Mexico is a big country. Claiming “Mexico” is dangerous is the same as claiming “The United States of America” is dangerous. There are safe places, and unsafe places in Mexico.
Do your own research! If you want to get technical, you can compare crime statistics of cities with Numbeo.com. As any normal person should do, learn about where you are going before you go there!
As of 2020, Cancun, Tijuana, & Los Algodones all have very safe environments for families, and crime statistics match those of similar sized cities. Crime is rarely focused towards foreigners in these cities. Playa del Carmen has been in the news a couple times over the last few years for isolated & unrelated incidents. Tourism is the driving force behind many of these cities, so crime is low due to the high presence of police.
If safety is your absolute biggest concern, and coming to Mexico is something challenging for you, staying in the Hotel Zone of Cancun is your best option. Here you will find everything functions just like the US, and is a beautiful vacation destination accommodating all income levels of travelers.
The bottom line is, do your own research before traveling to Mexico…and take everything you read on the Internet with a grain of salt.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are in the exact same situation as you, and are seeking whatever solution they can find. Realize there is an entire industry built around this unusual medical situation. Dental Tourism. And what is great about the free market in any country is, the best & most talented can rise to the top.
When it all boils down, most US citizens seeking dental abroad end up having to choose between the cheapest doctor they can find in the US vs the best doctor they can find in Mexico.