By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Warm days, rock hunting, ATV riding, and the Big RV Show. They’re all major Quartzsite attractions, but another draw is the proximity to Molar City. Never heard of Molar City? If you need tooth work, it’s a quick drive to super-low-cost dental work. Los Algadones, Mexico, aka Molar City, is just a little over an hour-and-a-half away, but a world away in terms of dental work costs.
What does dental work cost?
So what’s the cost of dental work in “Algadones,” as many visitors call it? A “dental tourism” group in Molar City claims prices are about 70% cheaper than comparative work done in the U.S. Here’s a sample of average prices:
- Simple cleaning, $35
- Tooth filling, $51
- Root canal, $220
- Crown, porcelain on metal, $180
- Crown, all porcelain, $340
- Dentures, full set, acrylic $250
- Dentures, full set, porcelain $350
- Implants, $1,250.
Prices on other work are likewise far lower than that done in the United States.
Why so little?
But how can your dental work cost so little? There’s plenty of competition, literally hundreds of dentists set up shop in Molar City. The overhead is much lower than that of the typical practice in the U.S. Yes, watch your step, there could be cracks in the sidewalk out front. But fear not, Algodones dentists are up-to-date with their equipment—it’s usually not an area where they skimp.
Adding to the lower cost of dental work are two other key “professional” items. Dentists in Mexico don’t have to purchase spendy malpractice insurance. Why not? Mexico’s national government has an agency that acts as an arbitrator for patients who’ve had a problem with a health care professional. In one three-year period, 73% of complaints were resolved in 48 hours or less.
Keeping prices down, too, is that most dentists who are trained and educated in Mexico don’t have student loans hanging over their heads. The government pays for many dentists’ schooling, and the graduates “repay” the government by working for free for a period of time after graduation. Add to this, the cost of living in Mexico is much lower. As a result, assistants and office staff wages are lower.
And the quality of the work?
But what about the quality of dental work? Generally speaking, the quality of work is quite similar to what you would find in the states. However, just as it is in the U.S., you’ll find some dentists are better than others at their art. And beware, there are two different kinds of dentists licensed in Mexico. General dentists generally do routine stuff: cleanings, extractions, fillings, and checkups. Specialist dentists are ones who handle root canals, implants, and cosmetic work. You may find general dentists who claim they can do it all, to your peril.
So how do you sort it all out? Getting a referral from someone who’s had dental work done in Molar City can help. It’s best if their experiences go back a ways. We had the unfortunate experience of being “roped in” to a dental clinic in Algodones. We had a number of crowns done, and we were pleased—at the time. But within a couple of years, the crowns simply started to come apart. Initially, the clinic had us come back and they redid their work. But over time, we lost all our confidence in them and have never been back.
Eventually, we needed specialized treatment for gum disease. We located, by good reputation, a specialist in periodontistry. He knew his limits, and referred us to other trusted dentists for other work, including root canals and crowns. We’ve never had a problem with the work done by those other professionals.
Some folks turn to dental referral services like Dental Departures. It’s a big internet referral service that pre-qualifies dentists in foreign countries, including in Los Algodones, Mexico. You can page through their recommended dentists, check out patient reviews, then work through them to schedule appointments.
Getting there—and back
Here’s the nitty-gritty on visiting Molar City. It’s a quick drive from Quartzsite: just take U.S. 95 south to Yuma, then jump on Interstate 8 heading west. When you cross the California line, continue to Exit 166, California Highway 186 South. Continue on this two-laner south. When you see the signs for “last U-turn” before Mexico, look to your right for entrance to a paid parking lot. You can park a car or truck all day for $6. If you bring your RV, you’ll pay more, and you CANNOT stay overnight in the lot.
Los Algodones is just a short walk across the border. You won’t need papers to get into Mexico, but coming back you’ll be asked for a passport or U.S. Pass Card. Some states issue driver licenses that are acceptable I.D. for land crossings back from Mexico.
Most dental offices (and plenty of pharmacies, trinket shops, and excellent restaurants) are all within easy walking distance. If you can’t walk-it, most dental offices will have someone pick you up at the border, and deliver you back when your appointment is completed. You’ll need to set that up in advance if/when you schedule an appointment. We say if and when, because it’s not always necessary to have an appointment in advance. Many dental clinics accept walk-ins.
Yes, you can drive across the border into Molar City, but be sure you have the appropriate Mexican-issued auto insurance. Get into an accident without that insurance, and you may say “bye-bye” to your car. Parking is a bit tight, as well. Most people find it so much easier to simply park on the U.S. side and “hoof it.” Be aware, the later in the day that you return, the longer you will wait in line to cross back into the U.S. At the height of the season, just about now, you can expect wait times of a couple of hours—even longer.
Money and more
What about payment? This is a matter decided by each clinic. Some only accept cash or checks. Others accept Visa or Master Card, but don’t count on American Express. When paying cash, in Molar City the U.S. dollar is nearly universal in appeal, so it’s a rare place where you’ll need pesos.
If your doctor feels you’ll need prescription drugs for your treatment, you’ll find pharmacies all over Algodones. The prices are extremely low. However, if you need narcotic pain killers, you’re on your own. You may NOT transport controlled substances into the U.S. from Mexico, and you’ll be asked what you’ve purchased by the friendly border agents. Not a good place to fib—you may end up in an uncomfortable cell!
Los Algodones. Molar City. Algodones. Whatever you call this busy little city, if your teeth need a tuneup, it’s one place to put on your visit list.
And a “thank you” for your kind words
As we mentioned in last week’s column, Tiña suffered a nasty burn in a run-in with a pan of grease. Many of you sent your warm wishes and expressed kind thoughts. Thank you so much! We’re happy to report she’s slowly recuperating, experiencing less pain, and getting so tired of Russ’ cooking that she’s actually managed to start doing a bit herself. Relief in all quarters!
The weekly statistics
How many folks in Quartzsite? It’s impossible to accurately gauge. We’re using the census count from the Hi Jolly Short Term Visitor Area as a gauge.
|Last Week||This Week||Change|
It’s getting harder to count the rigs at Hi Jolly. They’re everywhere! Another indicator, but certainly not scientific, is how tough the traffic is on town streets. Perhaps we should do a “near collision” count—we wouldn’t even need to paint a target on the side of our vehicle!
Fuel Costs (Average)
|Last Week||This Week||Change|
|Propane||2.833||2.833||No change (Best price, Pattie’s RV Park at $2.73. Worst, RV Pit Stop $3.00)|
|Last Week||This week|
|Verizon Mobile||5.86D/2.86U 1:04 PM
1.58D/2.71U 7:15 PM
|2.08D/1.07U 3:50 PM
0.55D/2.71U 9:09 PM
|ATT Mobile||5.73D/5.12U 1:04 PM
1.59D/2.98U 7:15 PM
|1.73D/3.81U 3:51 PM
0.54D/3.73U 9:09 PM
Our “face mask count” is based on numbers of folks at three locations: a popular grocery store, the post office, and a “dollar store.” The count is the total number of folks present and those who are masked up. The percentage given is the percentage of mask-wearers. We are changing our COVID patient count methodology. We’re including new cases within the last week, and comparing the percentage of change from two weeks back. The data is provided by the Arizona Department of Health.
Face Mask Count [Total people counted/masked (% masked)]
|Last Week||This Week|
|80/18 (22.5%)||106/26 (26.4%)|
COVID Patient Count
Our statistics are from the Arizona Department of Health, as presented by Arizona Central. They are:
Quartzsite average daily cases in last week: 3
Quartzsite average cases per 10,000 people: 6 (week prior: 6)
Change in number of cases from two weeks ago: 6% higher.
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