Americans flock to the Mexican ‘Molar City’ to snap up cut-price dental treatment

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Dental tourism in Mexico is booming, as more and more Americans head south to take advantage of cut-price treatment. Los Algodones, the epicentre of the industry, is now affectionately known as Molar City, with streets lined with modern clinics aiming to attract US tourists looking to save. 

Throughout California, signs promoting affordable dental care direct patients hoping to save money towards the border. In Mexico, which is a manageable drive or a short flight for many Americans, dental fees are up to five times lower than in the US. Los Algodones has capitalised on the popularity of dental tourism and is now little more than a thriving community of dental professionals. There are around 600 dentists operating from a seemingly never-ending stretch of clinics that covers an area spanning just one square mile. 

Eugene Richardson is one of many Americans who took the decision to cross the border to undergo dental treatment. The 76-year-old from Isle, Minnesota, sustained substantial damage to his teeth as a result of working as a machinist for 30 years and he was advised that he needed 28 new crowns. He couldn’t afford to have treatment at home, so in 2016, he went to Mexico and ended up paying around one-fifth of the cost quoted by his Minnesota dentist. Even though Eugene and his wife, Sandra, who has also had dental work done in Los Algodones, have dental insurance, they still can’t afford to get close to the bills quoted for complex dental work, and this is a problem shared by a growing number of US residents. With ‘Molar City’ just 14 miles from Yuma Airport, Arizona, dental tourism is an increasingly alluring option.

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