Similar to the medical tourism that has grown so popular in places like India and Thailand, Mexico has recently started becoming a hot spot for Americans to go to receive dental work on the cheap, reports the Chicago Tribune. The town of Los Algodones--on the U.S.-Mexico border just south of Yuma, AZ--has a population of only 4,000 people, but harbors 350 dentists who all specialize in foreign patients.
While American medical authorities fear for patients because of the lack of regulation--meaning some providers won't be punished for shoddy service--discounts on the cost of care can be as much as 70 percent, or more. One reason for the high costs in the U.S., some experts say, is the fear of a malpractice suit.
Kevin Earle, executive director for the Arizona Dental Association, said he and his colleagues worry about patients who cross the border to receive care. He recounted one instance where a patient who received treatment in Mexico came to a hospital "bleeding heavily from the mouth" because the dentist did not take into account that the patient was on a blood thinner.
Dr. Carlos Rubio, one of the more highly-regarded dentists in Los Algodones, worries that such incidents and less-professional dentists will only worsen the town's reputation.
"Wherever you go--London, Canada, Chicago--you're going to find the best, the average and the bad," Rubio said. "We are no exception. Sadly, there are too many businessmen taking advantage of this phenomenon, who will say: "Do you want to work with me? How well do you work--who cares?'"
For more on Los Algodones:
- read this Chicago Tribune story