Dental Trends

Dental tourism on the rise.

November 16, 2016

If you live anywhere near the U.S.-Mexico border, chances are you know someone who has gone south in search of healthcare at a fraction of the cost of treatment in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that Americans spent $1.8 billion in 2015 on foreign healthcare—a rising number that has nearly quadrupled over the past 10 years.

An article in The Desert Sun follows the journey of Vic Yepello, who has made the three-hour trip from Palm Springs to Mexico four times in the last 15 months. His motivation? Cheap dental care.

After parking near the border, Yepello walked into the Mexican town of Los Algodones, a popular destination known as “Molar City” due the influx of foreigners seeking low-cost dental care. For patients like Yepello, these dental trips are a “no brainer.” Treatment that costs upwards of $2,000 in the U.S. can be had for around $500 in Mexico.

But the California Dental Association (CDA) has warned patients to take into account the risks or lower-cost foreign care. For example, infection controls and safety regulations can vary from tight U.S. standards. The CDA also suggests looking into patient legal rights at the treatment destination, as filing a malpractice lawsuit in a country like Mexico may be challenging should things go wrong.

Despite the potential risk, dental tourism doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, particularly if costs continue to rise in the U.S. Something for American dentists to consider, especially if they practice near the border.