Early Retirement
Affordable Dental in Algodones, Mexico
Just across the border from Yuma, Arizona is a
hidden gem for the budget-minded: Algodones,
Mexico. This is our new go-to place for three
things at great prices: dental care, vision care,
and prescription drugs.

Algodones is a secure town right on the border
with Arizona and California. If it wasn't safe you
wouldn't find so many seniors visiting here on a
daily basis. We've made multiple trips over the
past few years and can say it feels safer than
many places we've visited without a second
thought in the U.S. In fact, Robin came here
solo on one visit and felt perfectly at ease.

We're always amazed at the sheer number of
(mostly elderly) Americans visiting Algodones
on any given day. It's like a huge medical
tourism mall for seniors on a budget. And while
we've been impressed with the reasonable
prices, we're equally impressed with the quality
of the dentistry. Because low prices aren't
enough: the quality of the dentistry has to be
high or it's a no-go.

Note: Algodones operates on Mountain time
(not Pacific) even though it's just south of
Dental Offices -- What to Expect
We like the high quality of the dentistry and the
reasonable prices charged by Simply Dental,
but as the name suggests, its focus is on dental
first and office chic second (or maybe third or
fourth). The entryway is under a covered
walkway with vendor shops lining the street.
The waiting area is simple but includes nice
touches like a Keurig coffee maker, bottled
water, wifi, restrooms, etc. You can count on
the dental equipment being first-rate, the
dental areas hygienic, and the dental tools in
sterilized packaging. You can also count on
English being spoken. But if you'd prefer a
waiting room that feels more like what you
might find in the U.S., you may want to look at
places like Sani Dental Group Platinum, whose
ultra-modern offices are shown above. You may
pay more at places such as this, but perhaps
it's worth it for the mod-cons. It's up to you.
Cost Comparisons
Our Quote from a U.S. Dentist
Root canal + post & core:     $870
Porcelain-metal crown:         
Total:                                    $1,855

Simply Dental in Algodones
Root canal + post & core:     $360
Porcelain-metal crown:         
Total:                                       $610

Root Canals: In the U.S. root canals can run
from $750 to $2,000. At Simply Dental the cost is

Crowns: In the U.S. a porcelain-fused-to-metal
crown usually runs $1,000+. At Simply Dental
the cost is $250.

Bridges: In the U.S. we received a quote for a
bridge of $840 per tooth x 3 teeth = $2,520. At
Simply Dental it was $180 x 3 teeth = $540.

Implants: In the U.S. an implant plus crown can
easily run $3,000 to $5,000. At Simply Dental an
implant plus crown costs about $1,400.
After our first dental visit, Robin needed to get
some antibiotics. We walked down the street to
the unmissable Liqui's Purple Pharmacy. Talk
about efficient -- we walked in and were
immediately greeted by a staff member who
directed us to a pharmacist who quickly took
our prescription for erythromycin and filled it
within seconds. We were able to get 100 pills
(500 mg each) for $8.65.

There were lots of other drugs that in the U.S.
would be prescription-only, but here they were
available over the counter for a fraction of the
cost. We saw lots of elderly people with bags
full of medicine. Later we talked with folks in
Arizona who make the trip twice a year just for
the medications alone because of the savings.

It's good to know the generic name for the
medication and dosage you need. You're
allowed to bring up to a 90-day supply of each
med (excluding narcotics like oxycodone). And
yes, this does include Viagra or similar types  
of drugs for those who are wondering.  For
some reason it's not legal to bring Cipro into
the US although most other antibiotics are fine.
Directions to Algodones
For Google Maps or other mapping programs,
use this border crossing address:

235 Andrade Road
Winterhaven, CA 92283

Driving Directions
From I-8 take Exit 166 towards Algodones Road.
Follow this for approximately 1 mile past the
Quechan Casino. Rather than drive across the
border, it's easiest to park in the huge parking
lot just after Sleepy Hollow RV Park. There is a
driveway to the right marked Quechan Tribe
Parking Lot. It costs $6 to park for the day.

Walking Directions
It can be helpful to choose a dentist ahead of
time so you can ignore all the touts trying to
direct you to their dentist. For Simply Dental,
continue along the main street (Calle Segunda)
until you reach Avenue B, just two blocks from
the border. The clinic is located on your right
under a covered walkway with lots of vendor
shops. A glass door has the name and logo on it.
Eye Care
Algodones is also becoming known for its eye
care and vision services. On our most recent
visit we stopped at Professional Optical, located
a few stores down from Simply Dental, and I got
a free eye exam and a pair of long-distance
prescription glasses for just $40. They made the
glasses in just 1½ hours. Robin also bought a
pair of Hi-Index (ultra-thin) progressive lenses
for $220 including frames. She got a quote for a
similar pair of glasses in the U.S. for $1,000+.
When she picked up her new glasses the next
morning, the optometrist told her they had
thrown in transition lenses that change tinting
depending on light conditions as a free bonus.
The ultra-modern front office of Sani Dental Group Platinum. Not all dental offices in
Algodones look as spiffy as this one, so this could be a factor in your decision.
Welcome to Algodones, Mexico -- enchanted land of
dental,vision, and prescription drugs at reasonable prices
We've been impressed with the high quality of the dentistry -- give it a try and see for yourself
There are many terrific dentists in Algodones
but we can only speak personally about those
Simply Dental. We've visited their offices on
half a dozen occasions now and have consis-
tently received the highest quality treatment.
Basically, we're at the point where we'd feel
comfortable working with any dentist there
depending on their area of expertise. Examples:

Enrique Lopez Gaspar, DDS, is an oral surgeon
and endodontist with 33 years of experience.
Robin had her first appointment for a root canal
with Enrique. The care she received was both
highly professional and caring.

Danilo Gaspar, DDS, is younger, speaks perfect
English, and more importantly is a terrific oral
surgeon specializing in implants. He performed
a difficult extraction and bone graft for Robert.

Another dentist, Daniel, specializes in cosmetic
dentistry and expertly prepared four teeth for
crowns plus a bridge for Robert.
Food & Lodging
After Robin's first dental visit we decided to get
a bite to eat before recrossing the border. A
local pointed us to a popular taco stand. When
we got there a line was already forming onto
the street. We ordered a fish taco, two shrimp
tacos, a tamale, and a Coke for $8. There are
probably even cheaper stands, but this one
was really tasty. Now we make it a habit to visit
it on each trip to Algodones.

Hacienda Los Algodones offers lodgings in
Algodones itself (corner of Encino & Colonia
Arboledas). Hotel rates are reasonable, but if
you have a car you'll have to pay for overnight
parking at the Quechan lot in the U.S. (~$22)
unless you drive across the border and park at
the hotel itself. We've always stayed in Yuma --
most recently at the Travelodge, which is
simple, central, and affordable. Just across the
street is Burgers & Beer; we like the Ranchero
chicken with tomato, onion, and pepper sauce.
Entering Algodones is easy: From the parking
lot on the U.S. side, just pass through a turnstile
and you're there! You can see the turnstile up
ahead in the photo. You'll have plenty of other
people for company so just follow their lead.
Once you're in, just follow the bend in the road
past the large purple pharmacy. You'll be on the
main street -- 2nd Street (Calle Segunda).

Coming back across to the U.S., you'll need
proper I.D.such as a valid passport. There is
usually a wait to get through U.S. Customs
coming back across the border. The longest
line tends to form between 1 pm and 4 pm and
can take up to an hour. If you go in the morning
and come back before noon there's usually little
or no line.
You can get an eye exam and a basic pair of prescription
glasses for $50 or less -- and in just an hour or two
We set up our appointments through Dental
Departures (
www.dentaldepartures.com). They
list dentists from many countries (not just
Mexico) and have price lists for each. They're
easily reachable by phone and email and
respond quickly to all requests for information.

Our favorite thing about Dental Departures is
the extensive patient reviews. These are very
helpful in making a decision. For instance,
there are literally hundreds of positive reviews
Simply Dental, with the average rating being
5 stars. There's nothing like a series of glowing
5-star reviews to increase your comfort level.

Other dental offices with very high ratings
Sani Dental Group, CIRO Dental, Castle
Dental, and Dr. Sonia Edeza Morales. You might
make your final decision based on the specific
type of dentistry you need (e.g., implant, root
canal, cosmetic), or the sophistication of the
office environment, or the qualifications of a
specific dentist.
Dental Departures offers an easy way to set up your
appointment in Algodones -- or elsewhere in the world
Algodones is conveniently located at the Arizona-California border.
Yuma, AZ is the easiest base -- just 15 minutes to the Mexican border.
Prescription Drugs
Dentist Qualifications
Crossing the Border
Booking Your Appointment
Just pass through a turnstile and you're in Mexico
The front desk at Simply Dental is nothing special, but we're comfortable
paying for quality dentistry without all the trappings and attendant costs
The Purple Pharmacy posts its weekly specials on erasable whiteboards
Be sure to try a shrimp or fish taco during your visit
This is the main street through town -- Calle Segunda. Simply Dental
is tucked away to the left, on the other side of the vendor shops.
These guys have to work fast to keep up with demand