Cheap dental care prompts a Mexican wave of US tourists

British patients are not the only ones going elsewhere for cheap dental treatment – Americans are now heading to Mexican border cities for the same reasons.

Dentistry in the US has become prohibitively expensive for some patients, with bills that can run to tens of thousands of dollars.

US dental treatment costs up to four times as much as in Mexico, making it tough for uninsured Americans to treat common problems such as abscessed teeth or pay for dentures.

A dental crown in the US costs upward of $600 per tooth compared to $190 dollars or less in Mexico so US tourists are shrugging off concerns about brutal drugs wars being waged in Mexico’s border cities in a bid to access some cheap dental treatment.

Dental clinics are springing up across cities such as Ciudad Juarez as Mexican dentists meet the demand, moving there to lure US patients away from the ‘dental tourism’ hotspots Hungary and Thailand with cheap – but closer-to-home – treatments.

Traditionally, Americans have long crossed the border for cheap medicines, flu vaccines, eye surgery or specialist doctors, but dentists are now in highest demand.

Rio Dental, a clinic based in Ciudad Juarez, boasts on its website: ‘We can even pick you up from the airport in El Paso… We are conveniently located just minutes across the border from El Paso, Texas, in Juarez, Mexico. A dentist with affordable prices is closer than you think.’

In 2004, statistics showed that only 44% of people in the US had some form of private dental insurance, but most of these with limited coverage and high co-payments.

Even among Americans with medical insurance, many find they are not covered for treatment other than the basics, and paying on credit can mean high interest payments.

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