Another Mexico pharmacy and dentist question

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Morgana

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Does anybody know how to choose a good pharmacy in a Mexican border town? Where you can be sure to get safe, non-counterfeit medications? Is there any sort of a licensing board, or other reliable industry source, for checking specific Mexican pharmacies? Or do people just go by word of mouth?

In case it helps from the word-of-mouth angle, at the moment I'm especially interested in Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas. But even more, I'd really like to know how people choose a pharmacy (I presume it's not by going with the first carnival barker who grabs your attention after you cross the river). In a related thread, someone said Bob Wells had recently done a video on this topic, but I couldn't find it.

Thanks for any clues!
 
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Morgana

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One month later ... this is turning out to be a real challenge. I'm not much closer to finding out how to evaluate (other than word of mouth) a dentist in another country. Herewith sharing what little I have found out so far.

There are websites like Dental Departures and WhatClinic, but they're pretty vague on what they base their choices on. And the reviews are like North Korean election results -- everybody gets five stars all the time -- how are you supposed to take that seriously?

There is a Mexican dental association (https://www.adm.org.mx/) but the page where they list their certified members is "under construction" and they don't respond to queries.

There are occasional reviews on Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, but they're usually not very substantive. I'm amazed at how much people, including rich people, will throw caution to the winds when it comes to choosing someone to dig around with a sharp piece of metal an inch from their brain. Oh, my wife's cousin's hairdresser went to Dr. Dracula, he had such nice manners! OTOH, somebody gets multiple positive reviews is probably at least worth checking out.

(Granted, I'm on the eastern edge of the border, and there seems to be more info for western places like Los Algodones and Tijuana.)

I've been to two dentists so far, both well recommended on the referral sites. One seemed very professional but scarily open-ended on prices. The other seemed less than pristinely clean, told me stuff that doesn't jive with what other dentists have told me, and there was a loud-mouth snowbird who kept demanding attention the whole time they were working with me (he was supposedlly finishing up when I came in, and was still going strong when I left), and they did nothing to manage that, so I didn't really feel like I had their full focus. They had a high Covid-prevention rating on a referrals website but I'd rate what I saw at "B" at best.

Also, the specialized services these places advertise aren't always in-house, and the people who initially evaluate you don't seem to have specialist knowledge but seem to be working from some kind of basic protocol (well, fair enough, it's a free exam, and the exam alone could cost several hundred dollars on the US side). And for e.g. an implant, additional services like a bone graft or sinus lift could easily double the price of the thing, and it's not clear when you find out what the real bill will be. (Yes, I have to ask more questions, and I will. But you sure have to be alert and assertive just to figure out what questions to ask. And it's no quick or simple process.)

So far I've had two X-rays (pretty casually done, no lead apron or anything) and now I'm wondering if I should try a third dentist or will I end up glowing in the dark. Granted, I'm no fan of US-side dentists either -- telling you you need $15,000 worth of work to have quality of life, meanwhile neglecting to mention that the tooth infection you're shlepping around could cause serious harm, grrr! -- and I know for such a steep discount there have to be some compromises (though presumably not with your actual health). It's just surprisingly hard to get the information you need to make a good choice.

Meanwhile, who do you think picks a dentist or a pharmacy based on those carnival-barker-style shills who stand on the sidewalk saying "hey lady, need a dentist?" Somebody must, or they wouldn't keep doing that. It boggles the mind.

So I'm pretty freaked out right now, but I'm sure I'll sort it out. Thought I'd just throw this info up here (for what it's worth) (not much, I realize) in case someone else goes down this path later.
 

gone2day

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One month later ... this is turning out to be a real challenge. I'm not much closer to finding out how to evaluate (other than word of mouth) a dentist in another country. Herewith sharing what little I have found out so far....

So I'm pretty freaked out right now, but I'm sure I'll sort it out. Thought I'd just throw this info up here (for what it's worth) (not much, I realize) in case someone else goes down this path later.
I'm in the same boat right now. I've been taking antibiotics for an infection caused by a broken molar and have been debating whether to go to MX or bite the bullet and load up my credit cards with the costs of going to an American dentist. I go in next Tuesday for an evaluation so don't yet know how much it might cost.

The research I've done says you'd probably be okay with a Mexican dentist as long as it's something 'minor' but for something more serious you'd best stay stateside. Anti-COVID measures weigh in heavily for me since I'm at risk for a couple of comorbidities.

Good luck. I feel your pain.
 
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StarryNights

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I have been going to dentists in Mexico for several years and have had excellent results. Have had I think 6 implants, 2 root canals and at least 9 crowns. This work done by US trained dentist in Tijuana since I could get inexpensive airfare to San Diego. Great prices that matched or were lower than estimate, guaranteed (re-did failed implant free), and painless. I'd get an inexpensive hotel on the trolly line that takes you right to the border. Last winter I went to Algodones as a walk-in and had good luck there too (tighten a screw-on implant, re-cement a crown and extract an un-opposed wisdom tooth all for $105). I'm wintering in Arizona where the Vandweller community does a large business buying prescription drugs in Mexico - have not heard any that any got fakes.
 

Morgana

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Just want to throw a couple more carrots into the soup pot in case somebody else can use the info down the line. If I can save someone else some of the flailing-around time, I’d like to.

Of course, if you know someone you trust, who’s had work similar to what you need, you can skip all this and go with word-of-mouth. These tips are for those who need to dig more. They are JUST a few random tips — not (not even remotely) a complete how-to.

It’s a long post. I tried to set it up to be skim-able by topic.

(1) Who will do the actual work?
This is a good thing to ask about if you’re looking for specialized work like dentures or implants. Don’t make any assumptions based on whatever the website (or a broker like Dental Departures or WhatClinic) says. Ask, or verify if you think you know, who will be doing the work and what that person’s qualifications are.

(Qualifications include: where they went to dental school, what they’ve done since then for continuing ed, any certifications they might have, and professional memberships. Two basic dental memberships are American Dental Association and Asociación Dental Mexicana; there are also associations for specialty areas. If you have a US-side dentist, they might even be able to tell you what organization names to look for.)

Of the two dentists I’ve visited, the initial consult (usually free in Mexico, expensive in the US) was with a nonspecialist. In one case, the specialist was in house with easy-to-see qualifications; in the other, it was an outside consultant, and since I’m not following that one up, I don’t know how hard it would be to find out their name or credentials. I have no idea whether these outside consultants have websites, are listed with the medical brokers, or the like, or whether they’re a big unknown in the equation. (This is not a reflection on their legitimacy, just on how easy/hard it may be to research them.)

There seem to be a lot of clinics relying on outside consultants for the specialty work. This does not prevent them from listing the specialty work on their own websites/broker directory pages. Fair enough, but worth checking if you think this might matter to you.

Another reason for asking who will do the work: One of the dentists I researched looks, from his website, like a solo operator with credentials — Mexican, USian, and international — up the yin-yang. In fact, he appears to have several other dentists working under him, but the only place I saw that mentioned is in the reviews. (The more disgruntled reviewers say that he doesn’t supervise those dentists much.) If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

(2) Reviews:
Because reviews on the broker site I looked at were so weirdly all-4.5-stars-all-the-time, I looked for reviews on more neutral public platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews. There weren’t a lot, but it was good to see whether they reinforced or contradicted what I was seeing elsewhere. And in that one case mentioned above, they did provide critical info I didn’t see anywhere else. It’s a good due-diligence step.

(3) Dental/medical broker sites vs doing your own research from scratch:
I assume that when the brokers say they’ve checked their dentists’ basic credentials they’re telling the truth. (You may want to check this in more detail than I did.) So I think they’re a good starting place — a lot less overwhelming than just Googling (though you’ll probably also miss a few good dentists that just don’t work with the brokers).

If you don’t speak Spanish, staying with a broker may be your best bet for the whole process. There is no cost (that I know of) to the patient. Also, they’re the best, easiest place to compare prices.

But if you want to take more control of the process, or you just don’t want to sign their paperwork and give away your personal data yet again, then you can pick a few likely prospects and start researching them.

Some of the dentists have great websites and a truly bilingual, truly helpful patient services rep. Some don’t. So you could get lucky researching on your own even without a lick of Spanish. But that could be very tough.

(BTW, I wouldn’t consider a [email protected] website to be a deal-breaker — they’re getting those savings that they pass on to us somewhere — but it’s certainly not a plus. OTOH a super fancy website doesn’t say anything about their dental skills either.)

Some dentists give detailed information about their qualifications, procedures, etc., and some don’t. I’d say giving this information — instead of blathering on with generic pep talk (“state of the art! patient’s best interests! 2 minutes from the border! love your smile!”) — is already a huge plus. I mean, these people have been to college and they’re in a technical profession; they know [email protected] well what kind of info patients need in order to make a good decision.

It’s worth comparing their website (or Facebook page) to their page on the dental broker directory. Some give more info on one, some on the other.

Most I have reached out to have been really good about answering emails or Facebook messages.

(4) Costs:
Be sure you know all of the costs — from x-rays through after-care. Again, don’t make assumptions. (I was ecstatic about the price until I realized that “implant” may refer only to one piece of the thing, and that various expensive procedures might be needed to prepare for the implant, and that x-ray costs ranged from nearly nothing to OMGWTF.) Paying by credit card also carries a significant surcharge, at least around here.

(5) English:
Even in clinics that advertise as English-friendly you can encounter a staffer who doesn’t speak English. I have the luxury to switch to (limited) Spanish at that point but if you don’t, I’m sure they’ll get you to an English speaker in a minute. Don’t rush yourself and don’t rush them. Another reason to prefer email over phone for initial contacts!

(6) Quality can vary enormously.
Of the two places I’ve visited in person, one of the highest-reviewed didn’t even seem clean to me, and the staff were disconcertingly casual, eg carting coffee around the work area and being loosey-goosey with the masking, while the other, with a slightly more modest rating, was pristine and professional. You never know. Check stuff out and trust your judgment.

(Not relevant, I know, but I got such a kick of walking out of that carnival street atmosphere into a clean, calm, well-lit professional office. Like teleporting to a different planet.)

OK, that’s all I got. It’s just a few random observations, NOT a get-out-of-dental-search-hell card. But I hope it will be useful to someone.
 

bullfrog

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No experience here but I have been told some practice both in Mexico and the USA due to being able to offer services in Mexico at a reduced rate due to a lack of insurance requirements and cost. Has anyone found that to be the case, one that works certain days on either side of the border?
 

picinisco

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Algodones lives on US citizens crossing for dentists, glasses and meds. They cannot exist without good service. I have been for dental and got great service. The "doorman" walked me to a pharmacy where I was able to get inhalers for my son at a ridiculously low price. My son's comment was the dosage was a bit lower than what he liked but at the price were perfectly adequate
 

Calypso

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I’m saving / watching this as that’s one of my first trips once I get the van finished. Dental work here is insanely expensive and hardly ever covered.
 

Cammalu

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I’m heading to Yuma tomorrow and will cross into Algodones Monday if anyone wants to come with us. We have had many trips in for meds and dental work over the years and recommend JP Dental. We also go next door for meds but I can’t recall the name of the pharmacy. I do remember that the pharmacy nearest the border (The Purple Pharmacy) was a bit more expensive. We are in Quartzsite now but leave sometime tomorrow morning. Will probably camp at the American Girl Mine BLM but not certain.
 

Morgana

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Around here many list accepted payment methods on their website, FB page, or broker directory page, so that's something you could check out for your location. Most here seem to accept credit cards but add a surcharge (ie, cash payment would be cheaper).
 

Journey with Pat

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I’m heading to Yuma tomorrow and will cross into Algodones Monday if anyone wants to come with us. We have had many trips in for meds and dental work over the years and recommend JP Dental. We also go next door for meds but I can’t recall the name of the pharmacy. I do remember that the pharmacy nearest the border (The Purple Pharmacy) was a bit more expensive. We are in Quartzsite now but leave sometime tomorrow morning. Will probably camp at the American Girl Mine BLM but not certain.
How do you pay for dental work and the cost
 

Morgana

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You made me realize that I hooked this entire dental conversation into a thread labeled (by me, duhh) "pharmacy." Is there anyway to change the subject line at this late date?

Journey with Pat, for starters read the thread, and then do some research online that's specific to your location; you'll get lots of answers.
 

Ken in Anaheim

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Morgana, just an idea....call/email one of the recommended dentists and ask them which pharmacy they recommend for THEIR patients (?)
 
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