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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dental Work In Los Algodones Mexico

Dental work is so expensive in the United States.  Ginny and I used to have dental insurance that paid for most things like cleanings, checkups, X-Rays, and fillings. The insurance covered, in a limited way, the more serious and expensive procedures such as root canals, and crowns. We would be able to get 1 or 2 crowns per year. If more crowns were needed, we would have to start paying out of pocket. Implants were not covered.

Well then came retirement and unless we wanted to pay a really high monthly premium we would no longer have dental insurance. That's what happened 6 years ago when Ginny and I retired. From then until now we reluctantly had dental work done occasionally in the U.S. Then we heard about Los Algodones, Mexico, a border town in Mexico on the California border just outside of Yuma, Arizona. Los Algodones has more dentists per capita than any town in the world.  Don't know if it's true, but this small town is very popular with American tourists.  You park for $6 in a large fenced in lot on the U.S. side of the border and then just walk over the border into Mexico.

The dental offices start within a hundred feet of the US Border Crossing. Research brought us to "Dental Solutions" on Tricera (3rd) St.

The reviews for implant surgery were really good for Dr. Xochipilli Bojorquez, D.D.S. and her team.

There are other places with good reviews too. Many. I chose this one partly because they are a family of dentists and technicians. Seemed nice to go to a place where hermano and hermana (brother and sister) worked side by side or down the hall from each other.


Visit #1 - October 8, 2018

Xochipilli had me driven to a place a couple blocks away for a Panoramic Cat Scan.  She then looked at it and spoke with both of us we met (Ginny was taking notes) about the condition of my teeth and what options there were.

I thought I might be getting what they call an "All-On-4" implant which is all the upper teeth in a fixed permanent bridge that is mounted on 4 implants.
This saves because instead of 10 or 12 implants on the top and extracting all the uppers you only need 4 implants.  She said the All-On-Four was not needed for me because my teeth were not that bad. Well, that was good to hear.  She suggested a mix of treatments including:

- Removing all the old upper crowns.

- Extracting one tooth on the left towards the front and installing implant #1 there.

- Installing a temporary bridge where implant #1 is. This is to protect the implant from biting pressure while it heals until March 2019.

- Installing implant #2 on the right in the rear where I have no tooth now. There will be no temporary crown here. The final crown will be placed here in March 2019.

- Doing a sinus lift on the left towards the rear. There will be no temporary crown here. Implant #3 will be installed there in March 2019. (because of healing time needed)

- putting crowns on all remaining uppers.

So Visit #1 is over. No pain but only preliminary and diagnostic work done today.


Visit #2  - October 11, 2018 

I went to the dental office and was asked to follow 2 employees to a different dental office to have crowns done.  This was a relative of my dentist about 3 blocks away.  There, 2 women worked on me.  Alinn was the dentist there and she was to remove my old crowns and grind down all my uppers and do a mold to have the temporary crowns made.

To make a crown, the dentist first reduces the size of the tooth so that the crown can fit over it.  There will be 11 new crowns by the time all the work is done. Some will be mounted on ground down old teeth and some on new implants.  

When Alinn was done with her work a male dentist, who I think is also a relative, came in and confirmed with me that I was getting metal/porcelain crowns.  There are three choices for crowns and they are:

Porcelain Infused Metal Crowns consists of a thin metal cap, fixed to the prepared tooth and serve as a rigid support for the porcelain that will completely coat the tooth, offering a natural look. The internal metal gives strength and stability.  These crowns look and feel just like natural teeth.

Porcelain Crowns do not have a metallic base, are light are very aesthetic. As they do not have a metal interior, this makes them less conductive so you will not experience hypersensitivity when eating very hot or cold foods. The only disadvantage is that they are much more fragile and transparent.

Zirconia Crowns are the most modern and aesthetic. They function just like metal and porcelain, only instead of using metal as internal support, zirconia is used, a patterned material and designed with CAD-CAM technology. This type of crowns offers 50% more resistance than metal crowns and porcelain; while also being completely biocompatible, limiting production and plaque adhesion and providing a more natural look similar to the actual tooth color.

Alinn then installed my temporary crowns.
Visit #2 is done. A little pain, several shots of novocaine.  I believe novocaine has been replaced with a new pain numbing drug but I really don't know.  It worked great though.


Visit #3  - October 13, 2018 

Today they took out my temporary crowns and did a test fit of my new permanent crowns. They are metal-infused porcelain and for now, they are just metal. They have not been coated with porcelain yet.  They were all silver colored not white. It reminded me of the James Bond Movie character named "Jaws" who had silver teeth that were ground to sharp points in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.  They fit good!  I took a photo of myself while I was in the dentist chair.

After they made sure the permanent crowns fit well they put my temporary crowns back in. 

Visit #3 is now done. Again a little pain but nothing an extra shot of novocaine couldn't handle.

Visit #4  - October 19, 2018 

Today I had 2 implants done and a sinus lift.  This was the longest day in the chair and it took it's toll on me.  Not because of pain from the actual dental work but just for the length of time my mouth was stretched open to reach the sinus lift area which is the second from the back on the left.

Xochipilli did my right side implant then her brother did the sinus lift on the left side far back second to last spot and the other implant in the left front spot where I used to have a crown that kept coming off.  The implants were both easy for me, not much time. A thing of note was the sudden taste of blood when they cut into my gum to create the flap under which the implant is to be screwed into my jaw bone. Sounds really awful but this part had no pain at all.  I could feel the blood gush and fill the gap between my lip and gum. Mr. Thirsty (the hooked suction tube) had a macabre workout that day I can tell you.

Pain was almost none with maybe 3 times a little twinge got them to do an extra Novocaine shot.  The most discomfort was from the stretching my mouth had to do. The fish-hook effect. My cheeks were sore for the next 24 hours from that but it was a dull pain like a bruise.  The next morning I looked like John McCain with my left cheek really swollen where the sinus lift was done.  It took several days for the swelling to be gone but the pain was gone much sooner.

In March I'll be getting crowns put on the 2 implants and I'll get a new 3rd implant on the sinus lift. The crown for that sinus lift implant won't be done until October 2019.  So that means Ginny and I will be returning to the SW next winter.  Our planned trip to Florida's Gulf Coast will have to be the following year.


Visit #5  - October 23, 2018 

The final crown fitting was done today and the 3 crown temp bridge was put  in.  Alinn was very good at adjusting my bite by grinding the new crowns very very slightly... a little at a time until my teeth came together in a comfortable way.  These are the "choppers" I will be eating with until next March.

The last permanent crown will have to wait until October 2019.

Now I just have to heal up my implants.


Visit #6  - October 25, 2018 

I have bruxism which means I clench grind my teeth mostly at night.  This is not good for any teeth fake or real.  For many years I have been using a Night Guard that I got at Walmart.  You make it yourself by putting the plastic in hot water to soften and then put it in your mouth and bite down and wait a minute for it to cool.  Then you take it out and trim the excess away and voila! A new bite guard.  It does not fit tightly which I like. It basically just keeps my top teeth from touching my bottom teeth sort of like a sports mouth guard ony softer and not as huge.

Well, my new dental office offers a custom fit Night Guard at a reasonable price of $85 which is much lower than in the U.S.  I opted to get one.  Today's visit was to take a mold and send it out to the place that makes the Night Guard. 


Today I also had my lower teeth checked and cleaned.  Hey! They were all good!

Vist #6 was an easy and fairly fast one with no pain.  I am now done until March.


Visits #7+ will be in March of 2019 to get:
- The implant installed over the spot where I had a sinus lift.  The crown there will be in October, 2019 to allow for healing of the implant.
- The new crown placed where I now have a new implant.
- 3 new crowns where I now have a temporary bridge and 1 new implant.
- March will need 2 or 3 visits probably to take the mold for the new crowns, install temporary crowns and get the new crowns installed
- October 2019 will need 2 visits to install the last crown in the spot where I now have a sinus lift. All this extra time between visits is due to the need for the sinus lift and the new implants to heal for at least 5 months before going to next step.


So that's about it for now.  I received 2 prescriptions that I filled at a Mexican Pharmacy.  Pain meds were similar to Ibuprofen only a little stronger. The antibiotics were taken every 8 hours for 5 days. 

In a follow-up, I hated the Night Guard and I am back to using the Walmart one.  The custom one was of a much harder plastic and it is so tight that you have to SNAP it onto my upper teeth.  It was just not as comfortable as my loose fitting Walmart Night Guard and after all, the only thing it has to do is keep my uppers and lowers from touching.



Here's a little info on the cost savings achievable by getting dental work in Mexico.  Research showed that even though the dentists in Algodones were mostly trained in U.S. colleges and universities, the prices are super low.  By the way, if you travel deeper into Mexico instead of going to border towns you will see even lower prices.  So here are average costs in the U.S. compared to my dentist in Algodones, Mexico. These are averages because U.S. prices vary around the country.

PROCEDURE                U.S.                      DENTAL                  APPROX.
                                                                    SOLUTIONS           SAVINGS
Filling A Cavity               $50-$450              $50                         $0-$400
Dental Crowns               $500-$1,500         $180                       $320-$1,320
Root Canal                    $300-$2,000          $220                       $80-$1,780
Pulling a Tooth               $75-$650              $50-$180                $25-470
Dental Bridge 3 teeth     $1,500-$6,000      $540                       $960-$400
Dental Implants              $1,000-$3,000      $750                       $250-$2,250 
Office Visit                      $50 -$350             $0                           $50-$350 
Full Cat Scan X-Ray      $350-$600            $120-$150              $200-$480
X-Ray                             $85-$250              $10                         $75-$240
Panoramic X-Ray           $60-$150              $70                         $0-$80 
Sinus Lift                        $1,500-$2,500      $700                       $800-$1,800
Night Guard                    $300-$500           $85                          $215-$415
Cleaning                         $75-$200             $45                          $30-$155
Initial Exam                     $80-$175             $0 FREE                 $80-$175


Photo 01 - photo of the price sign at the US side parking lot (if we still have it)
Photo 02 - Eric in front of Dental Solutions 
Photo 03 - Dr. Xochipilli
Photo 04 - Dr. Xochipilli's business card
Photo 05 - Eric's Cat Scan annotated
Photo 06 - all-on-4
Photo 07 - Implant 1
Photo 08 - Implant 2
Photo 09 - Implant 3
Photo 10 - Implant 4
Photo 11 - Bridge 1
Photo 11A - Bridge 2
Photo 12 - Sinus Lift
Photo 13 - Crown 1
Photo 14 - Crown 2
Photo 15 - Crown 3
Photo 16 - Crown 4
Photo 16A - Eric's first dental mold showing ground down teeth
Photo 17 - Eric's metal silver crowns
Photo 18 - Erics dental chair
Photo 19 - Eric's new uppers in the chair
Photo 20 - Post-Implant Care Instructions
Photo 21 - Eric's final smile
Photo 22 - New Night Guard
Photo 22A - Eric's dental mold showing new crowns so Night Guard could be made (I think)
Photo 23 - Mexico Dental Meds 
Photo 24 - Old Night Guard

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