Theriot Family Dental

A Dental Tourism Horror Story

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I went to Mexico in the hope of finding some affordable dental care. I was told that I could save a lot of money this way by a friend who has done something similar in the past. She had a good experience, but mine has been a bit of a disaster. I needed four crowns in total. About three days after the initial trip (500 miles round-trip), one of the dental crowns fell off. I went back and was told the tooth needed a root canal treatment before the crown could be restored. I was a little surprised because I had not had any pain, but also because they never mentioned needing one at the last visit. They said they were trying to save me money because they are not always necessary or successful. A few days later (again) I was having pretty bad pain to hot and cold and the tooth was in agony even if lightly touched. I called the office and they said I’d have to come back in again. I just didn’t have the time for that at this point and the travel expenses were beginning to mount up. So, I called a local dentist. I didn’t tell them about the visits to Mexico, just asked him about the painful tooth. He told me the tooth was cracked and I’d need to extract it and get a dental implant. Could you advise me on how to proceed? I think if I go back to Mexico, they should deduct the previous procedures on the tooth from the cost of the extraction and implant. Is that reasonable? Their prices are still way cheaper than the dentist in the states.


Dear Ken,

A dollar sign hatching out of an egg.
There is a big difference between affordable and cheap dentistry

You have certainly been through a lot here. I know that dental tourism is gaining in popularity because people think they will save a bunch of money getting needing dental work done all while vacationing somewhere. Sometimes it works out. Much of the time, however, there are problems. Sometimes those problems can be devastating. I know of a patient who lost most of her jaw because of an infection that set in after a dentist did the procedure using unsanitary tools.

The big problem with going out of the country for dental care is that, depending on the country, you are not protected in the same way. They do not have the high standards we have or regulations on sterilizing equipment or even patient’s rights. Though I haven’t verified this, one colleague told me about a woman who had a warrant put out for her arrest for writing complaints about the dentist. She cannot return to that country.

There is a big difference between affordable dentistry and cheap dentistry. Given the fact that the standard of care was violated from the very beginning here, with your crown falling off in just a few days, I do not think you want to let him anywhere near you for something like an extraction and a dental implant. Crowns are one of the first things dentists learn. It’s basic and they could not do that right. Are you sure you want to allow them to do one of the most advanced procedures that requires surgery?

It’s possible that you can get your money back from the Mexican dentist but I doubt it. My advise to you is to that you cut your losses and have someone more qualified do your treatment. If you want to save money, look for someone who is skilled but is willing to work with patients on payments when it is necessary.

This blog is brought to you by Baton Rouge Dentist Dr. John Theriot.