South American Dentists
May 23, 2004 10:07 AM   Subscribe

"We can fix your teeth, you know. We can give you a great smile." Apparently the best way to get your teeth fixed these days is to visit a South American dentist. It's a really honest piece about a subject most people probably wouldn't open up about - and it's interesting to see something positive about going out of the U.S. for skilled services in these days where everyone is complaining about outsourcing. (free registration required, same site as Bridezilla last year)
posted by clango (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it safe?
posted by cardboard at 10:27 AM on May 23, 2004

kuro5hin ran a popular article last year about how to find good cheap dentists near the Mexican border with San Diego.

My dad actually does this, and has done it for the past ten years or so instead of paying for a dental plan stateside (he's self-employed). I'd rather go with high tech equipment and risk the malpractice up here though.
posted by mathowie at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2004

lots of people are going south for botox and other cosmetic surgery too--Rio and the islands.
posted by amberglow at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2004

Wow I tried to register "metafilter" and got these errors:

You have already registered with this site. (login with metafilter:metafilter doesn't work)
You have typed in your e-mail address incorrectly. (tried
You are already registered with another Web site that is part of the Tribune Interactive network of sites. (sheesh)
Your member name cannot contain spaces. (it doesn't)


anyone have a working login?
posted by stbalbach at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2004

The comment you requested is available only to registered members.
posted by Satapher at 11:40 AM on May 23, 2004

login nine11
pw 911911
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:44 AM on May 23, 2004

The medical field may be a financial train wreck in the U.S., but the dental one is just as bad, if not worse. I've had no major medical expenses for ten years, but about $3,500 in the past two - and I just had one crowned tooth become abscessed. It was incredibly painful for such a seemingly small thing, and maddening given what I'd spent on that tooth a year-and-a-half ago (well over $1,000), and nothing was under warranty. If I'm going to spend that much for possibly naught, I wouldn't mind seeing some exotic new place at the same time. As for now, I'm having the work done at a university, where prices are cut in half of the usual going rate here.
posted by raysmj at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2004

One addendum: I don't have dental insurance now, but even if I had purchased it over my years in grad school, I would have ended up spending the same over time. Very few Americans have dental plans as comprehensive as their medical ones regardless. I'm working full-time next year, as part of a state university system, and have been told not to think my years of dental expense hell are necessarily over.
posted by raysmj at 12:11 PM on May 23, 2004

Even if you do have a dental plan you will still have to shell out hundreds of dollars if you go for anything but a straight exam and cleaning.
posted by clevershark at 12:22 PM on May 23, 2004

My dad actually does this, and has done it for the past ten years or so instead of paying for a dental plan stateside (he's self-employed). I'd rather go with high tech equipment and risk the malpractice up here though.

Like anything, its about finding someone good and whom you trust. My parents in San Diego do this too. Their dentist is a guy just south of the border who has been dentist to the family for 30 years.
posted by vacapinta at 12:26 PM on May 23, 2004

Very interesting article clango (and excellent link thanks matt).

One wonders what's the cost structure involved in dentist operations. The sensation is U.S. dentist industry is deeply fucked up if they're losing customers to Mexico. Wonder what is the array of excuses and numbers the u.s. based dentist will show to match up the price differential.
posted by elpapacito at 1:14 PM on May 23, 2004

This practice is similarly common in Europe. With British dental services as appalling as they are (lots of waiting lists -- and despite the fact we're meant to have a free health system, dental isn't), a lot of 'health tourists' are going to the continent, or even as far as eastern Europe to get their teeth sorted out.
posted by wackybrit at 1:42 PM on May 23, 2004

No matter what you think about *any* health care system, Fidel Castro came up with one of the most brilliant ideas for modern medicine ever. He has a fixation for doctors, lots of doctors. If you've nothing better to do in Cuba, then you go to medical school. It has been that way for many years now.
Unlike most everywhere else, there is NO limitation on the number of doctors that can be educated. So one of Cuba's big money makers is medicine. If you can't come to Cuba, they will send their doctors to you (the rest of South America.)

If you think about it, why *do* doctors have so much prestige? Eight years of college, and probably four of those years are unused in practice. Memorizing things that could be easily referenced from Internet databases. If the US took away the medical schools' self-imposed limitations on graduates, medical costs in the US would drop like a rock.
posted by kablam at 2:01 PM on May 23, 2004

What wackybrit said. There's a little bordertown in Hungary called Sopron that is famous for providing cheap dental work for thousands of nearby Austrians and Germans. (To the dismay of Austro-German dentists.) Sopron has about 400 working dentists out of a total population of 50,000. You can read a bit more about it here: Tooth tourism in the new Europe.
posted by Ljubljana at 3:26 PM on May 23, 2004

cardboard, Yes! No! I don't know! AAAAAAAAAH
posted by raaka at 5:56 PM on May 23, 2004

Come for the eyelash implants, stay for the dental work.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:30 PM on May 23, 2004

That was one of the best articles I've ever read.
posted by letitrain at 10:22 PM on May 23, 2004

Like anything, its about finding someone good and whom you trust. My parents in San Diego do this too.
My family does it because the material in the USA being used fixing the teeth. Something about mercury in the fillings and crowns.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:17 AM on May 24, 2004

whoops. nine11/911911 doesn't work anymore. anybody got another login/pwd?

and does anybody know what's up with is it still working?
posted by mrgrimm at 1:32 PM on May 24, 2004

Try niner11/911911

I got it from this morning.
posted by Coffeemate at 3:51 PM on May 24, 2004

I had my teeth fixed by a Hungarian dentist here in Budapest last year. A complete dental bridge on one side and a lot of replaced fillings. It was fine work, and the whole thing cost me US$ 350 - with me ordering the highest quality of everything. The same job would have cost ten times as much in the US.
posted by zaelic at 12:41 AM on May 25, 2004

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