The next time you hear a relative or a friend going to Tijuana for a one-day trip, they might not be interested in a short holiday at the beach—they might be going to Mexico for a trip to the dentist. The border city of Tijuana in Mexico is right at the center of a fast-growing niche in the dental care industry—dental tourism.
Dental tourism does not really involve sunny days in the beach and having a Mexican dentist give you dental check-ups while wearing a swimsuit. Essentially, dental tourism is about going to a foreign city (often near the borders where patients can easily access their destination clinic) for inexpensive yet high quality dental services. Tijuana is one of the ideal spots for dental tourism—it is very close to the United States border; in fact, patients from San Diego, California, can easily reach the city via a ten-minute drive.
More and more Americans are exploring this niche of the dental industry. In the United States, a simple visit to the dentist for teeth cleaning or x-rays can easily cost hundreds upon hundreds of dollars; more complicated procedures such as dental implants and high quality dentures can cost thousands. In Tijuana, Mexico, the prices are not so steep—thanks to the lower standard of living and the comparatively lax laws that do not compound the operating expenses of dental clinics. Extensive dental work that can cost up to $20,000 in the United States will only set American patients less than $4,000 in Tijuana. However, these affordable prices do not mean that the Mexican dental clinics are shabby or the dentists are less qualified than their American counterparts. Clinics in Tijuana, Mexico often offer state of the art dental equipment, maintain plush offices, and employ highly qualified and experienced dentists.
Dental tourism is not exactly new—as early as the 1970’s, Americans who are looking for comparatively high caliber dental services are taking the trip to Mexico. Most of the early clients of dental tourism are American retirees who are spending the winter in the warmer cities of Mexico. Then those who are looking for cheaper dental services because they do not have health insurance followed suit.
At present, the Mexican tourism office is compiling and maintaining a list of qualified dentists and dental clinics so that the American patients would not have a hard time looking for them. Along the border cities of Mexico, including Tijuana, local entrepreneurs are building parking lots where American patients can easily park their cars and walk to the dental clinic of their choice.
Aside from the relative convenience of going to Tijuana for dental tourism, dental clinics are also offering competitive prices, which means that patients can get the best value for their money by shopping around. Many American insurance companies are also extending their coverage to Mexican dental clinics, which means that even those who have dental insurance can explore Tijuana for cheaper, but by no means inferior, dental services.