Earlier this year, I, like thousands of other U.S. and Canadian "snowbirds" (folks who travel south for the winter in RV's, vans, other vehicles and those who rent or own their own properties) visit the small border town of Los Algodones, Mexico. This little Mexican town is primarily known for it's specialty . . . dental services. In fact, though I haven't been able to find an exact number, it's estimated there are 350 certified dentists, many, if not most, trained fully or partially in the U.S.
|A typical street in the four square block downtown of Algodones|
Algodones, as it's known by most people who've been there, is on the Mexican and U.S. border a few miles from Winterhaven, California and Yuma, Arizona. It is the northern most city in Mexico in Baja. This little town of about 5,500 offers the dental work I spoke of as well as medical, optical and pharmacy products and services all within a four square block downtown area. You'll also find some really good restaurants, street food and shopping, too.
|Border crossing back into the U.S., foot traffic is to the right.|
The road to Algodones passes through the Quechan Indian Reservation about a mile and a half from the border crossing where the Quechan Indians have a parking lot for Americans and Canadians who need to park and walk across the border. It's very easy crossing the border both ways. But, be sure you have your American or Canadian passport or passport card with you for reentry into the U.S. at the border crossing.
|The side and main entrance to the Quechan Resort Hotel|
The Quechan Resort & Casino is a beautiful oasis in the desert at I-8 and Algodones Road. I didn't check the hotel rates, but I believe they are very reasonable. The "Q," as it is also called, also has a very large RV and truck parking area that is free. That's where I stayed while I was going to Algodones.
|The RV parking area at the Q Resort & Casino|
There are all kinds of other motels, hotels and RV parks in the area of Winterhaven (including another Quechan casino and hotel) and Yuma, so there are plenty of accommodations at all rates. But, the Q is only 1 1/2 miles from the border crossing.
|Q Casino entrance on the RV parking side of the complex|
I was fortunate enough to have met up with two vandwelling friends who both had dental work done just prior to meeting up with them. Coincidentally, and to my great fortune, they both chose and used the same two dentists and highly recommended both of them. So, when I entered Algodones the first time, I waved off and bypassed all of the street hawkers attempting to get me (and the thousands of other dental tourists) to go to their dentists' offices for a free exam.
|A Team #1|
My first 'A' Team is Dr. Eva Urena (pronounced Ur-rain-e-ya), known as Dr. Eva, and her staff. As you can see in the photo above, the entire practice consists of three people. Dr. Eva is in the center, Monica, her assistant is to the left and George, who happens to be Dr. Eva's husband, is to the right.
|The attractive hacienda style building housing Dr. Eva's offices|
|The courtyard where Dr. Eva's entrance is located.|
You meet George when you enter the office from the courtyard of a very pretty and well maintained hacienda type building. There are only two practices in the complex, Dr. Eva and Dr. Armando Hernandez Mejia ('A' Team #2). Everything is clean, organized and efficient. Equipment is modern and up to date.
|Behind this door George will greet you.|
George speaks English very well. He runs the front office and keeps things going. He is friendly and personable. He makes the appointments and he accepts your payments. From my understanding, most of the practices only accept cash or checks. George is ready and waiting to accept payment on any of the major credit cards as well. George also makes appointments with other specialists for you and orders and keeps track of making sure crowns, partial and full dentures and any other prosthetic work arrives on time.
Dr. Eva has another dental practice in Mexicali, about 50 miles from Algodones. When her Algodones practice is extremely busy (which appears to be most of the time) she will often bring another dentist over from her other practice.
Dr. Eva has been practicing for something in excess of 20 years. Her training is from Mexico, however, she is affiliated with the American Dental Association and had recently returned from an ADA two week training program. She keeps up to date on the latest in dental procedures and techniques. As I mentioned earlier, her equipment is all modern and appears to be the state of the art for the work she performs.
Monica, the Dr.'s dental assistant is personable, highly skilled, experienced and efficient. One thing I found quite unusual was on my first visit, examination and plan of treatment for what I wanted to accomplish during my time in that region, Dr. Eva performed a deep cleaning herself. Usually cleanings are performed by a dental technician or hygienist in U.S. dental practices. This may be true of Canadian practices as well.
I have a fairly high pain tolerance. But, I am a dental phobic. I don't know if that's a real word, but I truly fear pain in my mouth. The interesting thing is I've seldom experienced any such pain in my past. At any rate, Dr. Eva is a master with the Novocain. There was some serious drilling to be done and I had three old, collapsed molars that needed to be extracted. All three were done in one sitting. I cannot say I experienced any pain, only pressure, which is understandable.
When I was in the Air Force 45 years ago, an Air Force oral surgeon removed all four of my wisdom teeth in one appointment, one of which was impacted. I felt no pain and had no major swelling or severe discomfort after his work. I can honestly say, Dr. Eva, while she only extracted the three molars, she matched my experience in the Air Force.
So, clean, quality office and equipment, extremely competent dentist and assistant, very efficient, no pain or discomfort and accomplished work that might have required a couple months or more in the U.S. completed in a week or so.
Then there is the final item, the cost. This is the other thing Algodones dental services are noted for. I estimated the cost to have the same work accomplished in the U.S. would have cost me between two and three times more than Dr. Eva's charges. Who could ask for anything more. Quality service, quality work and at truly affordable rates.
So, 5 Stars for Dr. Eva Urena and her staff. If you need dental work including fillings, crowns, implants, extractions, partial or full dentures (root canals and most other services are available through her network of associate dental specialists) and you don't mind traveling to the southwest, I highly recommend Dr. Eva. It's extremely likely, depending on what you need done, even after travel expenses, you'll save money. By the way, I'll be returning to Algodones later this year or early next year to complete some final dental restoration work with Dr. Eva.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have a U.S. phone number at 619-866-6992 or their number in Algodones, Mexico is 01152-658-517-3159. Tell George that Ed Helvey sent you.