Dental Tourism in Mexico

By: Shelley Seale
Dentist doing dental Getty Images / Dazeley

Last fall, I was in Guatemala eating dinner when I bit down and had that dreaded realization: I had broken a tooth. With no dental insurance and pretty certain I needed a crown, I immediately began to worry about what I would do. I was looking at a MINIMUM of $1500 for that here in Austin, even at the sliding scale or “affordable” dentist. I’d heard about people going to other countries to have dental and medical work done, including Mexico. Being that I live in Texas, that seemed the closest and most logical choice. After doing a LOT of research, asking friends for recommendations, etc. I decided to go to Nuevo Progreso and settled on Dental Artistry when a friend of a friend said she had been going there and shared her experiences.

I traveled to McAllen to spend an overnight for work. It was simple as pie getting in there, nothing whatsoever to be concerned about. I drove to the bridge border crossing and parked my car in the lot on the US side of the bridge ($2 all day). I then walked across the bridge (you pay 50 cents at a toll turnstile). As soon as I arrived on the Mexico side of the bridge, Rick (Juan) was waiting there to meet me. We had been in contact the whole time and I simply texted him as I was about to cross the bridge.


Rick walked me down the street to the Dental Artistry clinic. It’s only about a block down. The clinic is clean and nice enough – it’s not fancy, and not with the latest high-tech lighting, etc. But it’s well equipped, very clean, and I was VERY impressed with the dentists! First, a female dentist examined me and took X-rays. Turns out I needed a root canal too. Ugh! But doubly glad I didn’t do this work at home, as that would have added even more $$ to the bill.

A male endodontist came in to do the root canal. It wasn’t fun (I’ll admit to being a big baby) – but the staff was all very soothing and encouraging to me. Rick offered to go down the street and buy some generic Valium for me (cost $20, no brainer). They don’t use nitrous oxide gas here. But the valium worked wonders and the dentist was VERY careful to numb me AS MUCH as I needed to feel comfortable, which in my big baby case was about 6 times.

After the root canal was finished a few hours later, the female dentist came back in to make an impression and the fitting for my crown. (I’m sorry I can’t remember any of the dentists’ or assistant’s names, I was in too much of fog and thinking about the work). One thing I will say is, she was VERY thorough and VERY perfectionistic. She worked over and over and over, to smooth out the crown mold and make it EXACTLY right, to fit and work just perfectly. To the point where I got tired of it and having my mouth open, and was telling her “It’s fine, it’s fine!” I give her a ton of kudos though for being so nitpicky about it. They do not do shoddy work here, they do the best work possible and are absolutely committed to that. I couldn’t have gotten better, I honestly believe, anywhere else.

Finally, the crown mold was done (to be made overnight in the lab), my temporary mold was fitted, and I was relieved for the night. I went to my Airbnb to sleep it all off.

The next day, early afternoon, I was back to have my permanent porcelain crown put on. The one that was made OVERNIGHT for me. This time I didn’t feel the need to have Rick meet me at the bridge, it was so close and the town so easy that I had no problem walking there myself. In fact, I walked around the town quite a bit that day and did a little shopping (bought some beautiful glassware!) There is nothing to be afraid of in this town. It’s relatively small, and definitely a medical clinic destination. There are dentist offices, optometrists, pharmacies, and other clinics completely filling the streets. But it’s pretty calm, friendly and I felt completely comfortable there, as a single female there on my own. No problems.

I got my permanent crown put on (again, she was a super perfectionist about making sure it was exactly right). I was one happy patient! Oh, and the language if you don’t speak Spanish? Rick was right there, as the patient coordinator, to translate everything for me. He’s a great guy and was a big difference in me feeling confident about it all.

The only strange/funny part of the whole thing is one period of time when the electricity went out, and the dental assistants were shining their cell phone flashlights into my mouth while the dentist shaped my crown.

And you’re probably wondering what the cost was of all this? $450. TOTAL. For EVERYTHING (except the additional $20 for the generic valium). About 1/3, or less, than what I was going to pay for the crown alone in Texas, not even counting a root canal.

I couldn’t be happier. This was three months ago, and I can report that my crown feels really good and has given me no problem. Oh, and Dental Artistry guarantees their work, just like any accredited dentist in the US. If I have any problems I can go back to them.

Bottom line is that I would recommend looking at Mexico as a possibility for having dental or other medical work done. Just like at home, it’s a matter of asking around your network for recommendations, doing your research, looking at their reviews and ratings online, etc. I did all this and was happy with my choice (although there were also a few other dentists I found that I believe I would be happy with as well. Dental Artistry has given me NO discount, work, compensation or anything else for writing about them, this is totally based on my own experiences).

Have you ever had medical work done in another country? Share your experiences in the comments!