The city of Nogales, Sonora, which is just across the border from Nogales, Arizona, is rapidly becoming a premier dental tourism destination. Why is this?
For a number of reasons - some related to the current state of dental services in the United States, and others related to how some of Mexico's most experienced and talented dentists have responded to the need for their services by opening an office in Nogales, Sonora.
Dental care in the United States is in crisis. Dentists are demanding outrageously high prices for even basic services, and at the same time many are not keeping up with modern dental advances. And higher prices for dentistry services means higher dental insurance premiums and rates, which leads to fewer people who can afford coverage.
The result of this decline in access to affordable dental care has not only been that Americans aren't getting the dental care that they need and deserve, but that a two-tiered system of dental care has evolved in the U.S. - between the haves (those with insurance and resources for expensive procedures) and the have-nots (everyone else).
And while those with dental insurance usually receive adequate dental care, they are finding that they need to pay more and more for services beyond basic care, such as crowns, fillings, and bridges. In addition, even for the insured, the cost of dental specialties and techniques like root canals and dental surgery are going through the roof.
And for the have-nots, or the near have-nots, awaits the experience of the bottom tier of dental care. Where the insured and those who can afford high-priced dental procedures will receive the latest technology in dental techniques and materials, those without insurance and / or the means to pay for high-priced dental products and services will either receive discount, substandard services, or more likely will go without dental care.
A couple of examples of the two-tiered dental system in the United States are dental x-rays and dental fillings. Those dental patients in the U.S. with insurance or sufficient resources will have their dental x-rays taken with a new digital x-ray machine, which exposes them to less than half of the radiation of a standard dental radiograph. And when they need a filling, they will receive a filling that is made from the latest in dental composite technology, that does not contain mercury.
At the same time, those who can't afford expensive dental services (more and more people every year), will receive more radiation exposure with a standard dental xray machine, and they are more likely have their teeth filled with dangerous amalgam fillings, or some other cheap, dangerous filling material composed of mercury (yes, they are still being used, for low-cost U.S. dental treatments).
But thankfully, the second trend mentioned, of talented and experienced professional Mexican dentists opening offices just across the border, provides a solution to the flaws in the U.S. dental health system.
So for those who near the Arizona-Mexico border, there is another option for dental care, and its name is dentist.