Dental procedures can get expensive, even when you have a high-tiered insurance plan. And though most dental practices are willing to work with patients by offering payment plans and discounts, there is what seems to be a growing trend of people looking elsewhere for dental work in order to get it at a much lower cost. “Elsewhere” in this case means out of the country–particularly, in Mexico. Though it is true that a patient can get a number of dental procedures done for less money in Mexico, this is not a good idea.
Saving money is one thing; putting your health at risk (a rather high risk at that) is something more serious. So why do some people search outside of the country to get their dental procedures done? The truth is, it can be a lot less expensive to have any kind of dental work done in countries like Mexico, but after looking into the details it becomes clear that it’s simply not worth it. Not only is it a health risk, but there is also the chance that the particular procedure being performed will not be done correctly. This is not to say that Mexican dentists are derelict at their jobs, but rather that they do not adhere to the same rules and regulations that we are used to having here in the States.
The following are specific examples of why it is not a good idea to try and save cash by scheduling a dental procedure to be done in Mexico:
Low Standards of Sterilization
The American Journal of Infection Control, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, released a study in 2016 showcasing a series of test samples collected over a period of twenty years. These tests were taken from dentists in Mexico and showed that 10.2% of the cases studied failed the necessary rate of dental tool sterilization. This means that in just over 10% of the cases noted, the dentists simply ignored the tool sterilization cycle and failed to read the sterilization equipment’s pressure indicator dial and thermometer.
Though 10.2% is not a massive number, when dealing with sterilizing tools and equipment, even a 1% failure is a big deal. Any dentist who has been properly trained knows that the manufacturer’s specifications must always be followed for each particular piece of equipment and tool used. Could you imagine having a piece of dental equipment used inside of your mouth right after it had been used on someone else–and with no sterilization done between uses?! No thank you.
The scientific study reveals that some of the necessary sterilization cycles that must be performed in order to maintain proper levels of health safety remain unknown to most dentists in Mexico. The United States, on the other hand, conducts regular extensive tests on every dental office in order to biologically monitor and conduct test sporing.
A Lack of Education
None of this is to say that dentists in Mexico are incapable of operating on the same level as American dentists, but rather that they are not required to do so. Take the level of required education for example.
In the United States, dental professionals must take hours of continued education (this is after they have obtained their degree in the field of dentistry) every two to three years in order to keep their license active. The logic behind this is to help dentists to keep up on their skills, as well as, for them to learn the newest technological information and techniques coming out of the present body of knowledge within the dental field.
It’s a little different in Mexico. Dentists in Mexico are not required to go through a renewal process, nor are they mandated to keep up with industry standards. On the other hand, a dentist in America may have twenty years of experience, but that also means they are versed in the modern methods used in dentistry. A dentist in Mexico with twenty years of experience simply has the experience, but has most likely not received any continued education.
This is incredibly disconcerting because dental standards and regulations are constantly changing, so any dentist who is not following the continued updates in the field could be doing harm to patients.
A Lack of Qualification
Since general dentists in Mexico need only a dental license (no continued education required) to perform procedures, this means after four years of schooling, they are finished. They can then begin performing complicated procedures, such as root canals, tooth extractions, and dental implants even though they are not necessarily qualified to do so–any dentist worth his salt would agree that these high-level dental procedures require plenty of extra education and experience, to say the least.
In America, for instance, a prosthodontist has to take three additional years of schooling in order to be able to perform any sort of dental surgery. The same is true for an orthodontist, where it takes an additional three years to be able to administer Invisalign treatments.
In addition to a lack of qualification, dental professionals in Mexico tend to rush dental work. This is often advertised as a good quality, but in order for a patient to receive quality care, being rushed is not a good thing. The reality is that many dental procedures require more than one or two dental visits. The implication here is that if a dentist is rushing her work, certain protocols are being ignored.
One particularly dangerous procedure to have done in Mexico is dental implants. This takes specific equipment that is often not found in these dental offices, which keeps them from being able to offer same-day crowns, and often important steps within the implant process get skipped due to a lack of knowledge and experience.
No Chance of a Refund
Yet another negative aspect to having dental work done in Mexico is that, if your procedure goes awry, there is little-to-no chance you will receive a refund. You can’t even file a complaint; however, here in the States, if you do not end up getting a refund–which, if your dental work was not done correctly, you most likely would–you can file a complaint or leave a bad review, which no dental office wants to have attached to its practice.
The Language Barrier
Imagine having someone tinkering around with your teeth, in a country you are unfamiliar with–and they are speaking a language you do not understand. You have high hopes the dental work done will cost a lot less than it would in America, but there is a good chance it will be done incorrectly. And if it is, you most likely will not know until you return home. Who do you contact? If you do make contact with the dentist, what if he doesn’t speak the same language as you? Even if he does, what good will it do? Are you going to fly back to the same dental office and hope it’s done right this time?
Hopefully by now it is clear the problems that can occur when attempting to have a dental procedure done outside of the U.S. The lesson here is, when in doubt, talk with your dentist. As mentioned earlier, if it is a money issue, payment plans can be worked out. There is never a good reason to risk your health. If you need any sort of dental procedure done, from basic cleanings to dental implants, come visit us at Adam Brown, DDS as soon as possible.