This article is from the June 2001 The Mexico
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Forsooth El Tooth
resident and writer Geri Anderson contributed an article,“Poking Around
Pueblos,” for the November 1999 issue of Mexico
Some of my friends and family are considering combining a vacation in
Mexico with a trip to the dentist. While a dental vacation is an oxymoron, the
idea does make some sense. Dental work in Mexico is bound to save you money,
maybe even enough to pay for the trip. The first question dental vacationers
ask: “Are there good dentists in Mexico?” I can only answer this based on my
own experiences and what I learn from talking to others who have gone to Mexican
dentists. I haven’t heard any horror stories, although there must be some,
just as there are anywhere.
My dental vacation a few years ago combined a trip to San Miguel de
Allende with getting a crown for a tooth that was darkening due to a root canal.
When I smiled, it looked as if there was a small piece of coal wedged in my
I planned to be in San Miguel for six weeks, so I didn’t feel
pressured to rush into a dental chair. It’s easy to put off going to the
dentist and even easier to procrastinate on vacation in Mexico, so I waited
until about two weeks before departure to make an appointment. Based on
recommendations I received from English-speaking foreigners living in San
Miguel, I chose a female dentist, formerly an officer in the state’s dental
association. She assured me she could get the job done in ten days. The cost was
$120US, a good price, considering that my dentist at home wanted ten times that
After the dentist drilled my tooth to a fine stub, she covered it with a
“no es permanente” cap. She made an imprint of the cap and, although she
spoke only four words of English – open, wider, close, rinse – I understood
that the fitted crown had to go to el laboratorio to be porcelain coated
to match the color of my teeth.
By now, we were entering Semana Santa (Easter week) and the lab and the
dentist office would be closed most of the week, so we made an appointment for
the following Monday, five hours before my bus departed for Mexico City. I was
there at the appointed hour, but the crown was not. Panic! I had a
non-changeable airline ticket from Mexico City to Denver. “No hay problema,”
she told me calmly, and made me understand that she would mail me the crown,
complete with “instrucciones y cemento!”
This is one of the things I love about Mexico. Nothing ever seems to be
a problem. Also, the Mexican people are much more “do it yourself” oriented
than I am.
I owed the dentist 1,000 pesos, but I didn’t want to pay her until I
received my tooth, so a friend agreed to hold my 1,000 pesos, pay the dentist
and send me the tooth. A couple of weeks later, I received a small, ring-sized
box (postmarked Los Angeles, because my friend found a tourist to mail it from
the States). Inside was the pearl white cap. It was truly a jewel!
Now what? I called dentists in my hometown but they either didn’t
return my phone calls or refused to work with a made in Mexico tooth,
probably because they assumed it would be inferior. I couldn’t do it myself
and certainly didn’t trust any of my friends to glue it on.
It took me six weeks to find a dentist in another city who agreed to do
the work. During this time, I carried around my pearlized gem, proudly showing
it to friends who laughed at my story and dilemma. The new dentist charged me
$65 to do the “cemento” work.
I’d rather not disclose who my dentist was. I only suggest that if you
take a dental vacation, do as I did and ask people living in the area for
recommendations. My experience, in the inland cities at least, is that there is
an abundance of dentists, so generally you don’t need an appointment more than
a day or two in advance. However, don’t do as I did, and wait until the last
minute during a high holiday.
© Geri Anderson 2001