Dental Work in Mexico? Think Twice
Traveling abroad for medical and dental treatments is a 21st century trend that has really caught on among many Americans, particularly those who live close to the southern border.
On any given day, hundreds of patients cross the border into Mexico to get dental work done, and the vast majority of them do so to save money on cosmetic dentistry procedures.
In February 2016, a Fox TV network affiliate in Los Angeles aired a report about a Southern California whose horror story of a dental tourism trip to Mexico seems to have come out of a Donald Trump campaign speech.
Hope Norris saved up money to visit a clinic in Mexico for the purpose of treating several dental issues. Ms. Norris hoped to return to California with a beaming smile; instead, she came back with implanted teeth that were too large for her jaws and eventually became infected.
According to the Fox L.A. channel 11 report, Ms. Norris’ first day in Mexico consisted of undergoing a massive extraction session that ended up with 20 teeth being pulled. She was puzzled that the dentist did not bother with x-ray images or traditional molds; all the same, an implantation procedure was hastily performed before the replacement teeth were fixed into place.
When Ms. Norris returned to her home in Los Angeles, her mandibular region began to swell. Out of desperation, she removed her implants with pliers before a local dentist treated her for a postoperative infection and fitted her with traditional dentures.
In the news report, a California attorney explained that Ms. Norris would have very little recourse if she tried to file a lawsuit against the dental tourism clinic in Mexico.
Even without knowing all the facts in Ms. Norris’ case, a couple of issues stand out. First of all, the extraction of 20 teeth sounds almost like a full mouth restoration, which would not only require CAD/CAM imaging but also a periodontal and evaluation. Second, it is not known if the dentist had an implantology certification. Ms. Norris mentioned that she wanted to correct a gap in her front teeth; perhaps this is something that could have been corrected with orthodontics instead of rushing to pull out more than half of her dentition.
A major lesson to be learned here is that prospective patients should not underestimate the complexity of dental implants. Cosmetic dentistry is not like applying make-up; while modern procedures are not very invasive and can be performed on an outpatient basis, we are still talking about oral surgery.
Call us for a cosmetic dentistry consultation at 480-860-0092, we always have teeth whitening and dental exam specials