One thing that holds people back from spending more time abroad in retirement is the fear they won’t get quality health care. In my experience so far, that fear is unfounded.
I recently had my third dental cleaning and exam in my third Mexican City – Mazatlan this time – and I’m here to tell you it was a great experience. The dentists in this office are honest, and everyone I talked to speaks English fluently.
As I often do, I ask fellow expats where they go for their care. When I asked in Mazatlan which dentist to see for a cleaning and X-rays, the resounding answer was “Dr. Paty – she’s the gringo dentist.” I asked people face-to-face, and I also asked a Facebook group whose members include many Americans and Canadians. Dr. Paty Ascencio got the most real-time and virtual recommendations. (She is affectionately called “Dr. Paty” by her patients.)
So, I made an appointment and was seen the following week. The appointment was easy to make because the person on the other end of the phone spoke excellent English. The office was easy to find – right in the Golden Zone. Once I arrived, the office manager spoke perfect English.
I was seen promptly by Edith, who is another dentist. (There are no ‘dental hygienists’ in Mexico, only dentists.) Edith first examined, then cleaned and polished my teeth. She has a great touch and I never felt uncomfortable. She was fluent in English and there was no confusion about anything she said during my time in her chair. There were two areas she wanted to X-ray to be sure I didn’t have cavities. (Three X-rays are included in the cost of the cleaning. Additional X-rays may cost more.)
I won’t bore you with my specific mouth issues too much, but I need to give you a bit of background so you can see how honest this office is.
I have used a cheap cosmetic option on my front two teeth ever since my braces came off as a young teen. The braces left marks. I use composite, also called bonding, to cover the marks. Composite is much less expensive than veneers or crowns. But bonding also needs to be replaced every couple of years, and decay can happen underneath the porous composite covers. Decay under the composite has happened twice for me, once on each front tooth, and so now I have white fillings on the front of both front teeth, underneath the composite covers. I need X-rays about once a year to check for any more decay.
One of the X-rays Edith took showed one of the fillings under the bonding is contracting a bit, and it will eventually need to be replaced. She recommended within a year to be safe, but said it was not something I had to do right away, as she saw no decay.
If this office was out to make extra money off of me, they could have said it had to be replaced now. But didn’t say that at all — they were honest.
After my consultation with Edith, Dr. Paty came into the room for further consultation. She agreed with Edith’s assessment and also explained exactly what would be involved should I decide to get veneers or crowns now, and break this cycle of fillings and bonding on my front two teeth. Dr. Paty has a command of the English language, and I understood everything she said perfectly. She was pleasant, and patient as she answered a few questions.
In the end, I opted to wait a year before I do anything. I’ll decide next year whether to replace that front-tooth filling and bonding on both teeth, or opt for crowns or veneers. By this time next year, we plan to be in Southeast Asia, where dental work for gringos also is common. Stay tuned…
The price for my visit to Dr. Paty’s office was 700 pesos, or $37 USD at the time of this writing. This is a bit more expensive than some other options around town. Cleanings can be had for half that price, but I don’t know if that includes X-rays, and I don’t know the honesty levels and English-speaking ability. I feel Dr. Paty’s price is fair.
Consider these other prices. I paid $33 in Mahahual, Mexico, last year, and I paid $40 in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, earlier this year. Neither of those places included X-rays, and, Puerto Escondido’s office knew virtually no English. Tedly had a cleaning in Puerto Angel, Mexico, for $22.50 (no X-rays), and in Oaxaca City, Mexico, he had a filling and a cleaning for $53 (no X-rays).
If you’ve never been to a dentist in Mexico before, don’t worry. All of our experiences have been fair to good to excellent – and I’d rate Dr. Paty’s office as excellent. You might pay a little more than other places in Mazatlan, but you will get honesty, professionalism, and an office filled with people who speak fluent English — positives that are priceless.
Dr. Paty’s website is here.
(***As always – this is an independent review, unlike what you’ll find from other travel bloggers. I do not get anything in return for writing about my experience.)
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