Los Algodones: Amercian Standard Dentistry

Los Algodones - coordinates 32°42′55″N114°43′44″W -  is as pretty a Mexican border town as you might wish to see. There are little shops and restaurants everywhere and the streets are full of tourists. What makes it exceptional is that it has more dentists, doctors, opticians and pharmacies than anywhere else in the world, and it has over 5,400 residents to welcome a growing number of medical tourists.

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To find it, head south down Interstate 8 from Yuma, Arizona, and take the border exit off Route 186 in California. The official crossing point is Anrade, although not everybody takes that seriously. We recommend you park your car stateside, as returning later goes much faster when on foot. You will not need to show your passport in either direction, but keep it handy as your dentist will need to see some form of ID.

Your first refreshing discovery is finding out how many locals speak English. Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix are all conveniently across the border and the traffic flows both ways. Expect touts to point you to particular dental surgeries, medical clinics, opticians and pharmacies. It’s the Mexican thing. Just shrug your shoulders and say noh grah-see-ahs with a smile.

When Dental Travel Services visited in October 2013, we counted 314 clinics and over 1,000 dentists practicing. We learned that 75% of these are likely to shut down within three years. The moral of the story is to seek advice such as we offer, and target a dental practitioner with proven experience of American standard-veneers, implants and cosmetic surgery.

Prices are exceptional by western standards, although lowest ones can be deceptive. When we investigated a provider offering dental tourists crowns for $75 each, we discovered these were temporary fixes. Expect to pay $180 to $250 for one that will last, and more if you specify zirconia.

What’s super about Los Algodones is that it is more than a medical shopping center. It’s a full-blown tourist town with more than adequate restaurants. With your teeth fixed and the anesthetic fading fast, you can head for a pizza made by an authentic Mexican and washed down by a shot of margarita. Be warned though. The stuff is quite strong and the summers are hot. Take it easy and stick to the shade.

The accommodations are sometimes the outdated side and not to everybody’s taste. If we chose not to go back to Yuma to overnight, we might let the Hacienda tempt us as nothing on the breakfast menu costs more than five US Dollars. Use the restroom as you cross the border point. After that, speak to your dental provider or the place where you have lunch.

Our only real letdown was the souvenir shops. The pottery and glassware is pretty basic, although we did stumble over some fun beachwear and costume jewelry. Bring US Dollars and be prepared to bargain everywhere you go. Start by offering half the asking price and hold your ground. That said, Dental Travel Services does not recommend a similar approach with Los Algodones dentists. Please consult our Los Algodones directory or write to us and ask for a suggestion.  

Getting To Los Algodones

The visitor-friendly border community of Los Algodones is located in Baja California, Mexico at the California – Arizona border. If driving from the USA, access to the community is fairly easy, traveling on I-8 take Calif. 186 south on Algodones Road, past the Quechan Casino & Resort to Andrade, which is on the USA side of the border. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona. 

The Andrade Border Crossing between Yuma and Algodones is open from 6am to 10pm. You may park on the USA side and walk less than 1 block to reach the community of Los Algodones itself or you may park in one of the attended parking lots in the town. Most businesses are located within a 5 minute walk from the border.

If you plan on flying in best bet would be to arrive at Arizona’s Yuma International Airport (YUM) and then make the short drive from there to Los Algodones. Los Algodones is located about 7 miles, West of Yuma, Arizona off Interstate 8. 

If flying from Canada, flights from Vancouver to Yuma take about 6-8 hours depending on the number of stops. 

Where: 2191 E 32nd St, Yuma, AZ 85365, United States Call: +1 928-726-5882

Getting Around

Considering that the main business area in Los Algodones is only about 4 blocks square, walking is the best way to get around. Remember this is a border town, so don’t expect sidewalks, chain stores and huge buildings. Los Algodones is dusty, friendly and colourful.

Things to Do in Los Algodones

If you’re not visiting the dentist, Los Algodones has one of the highest concentrations of dentists, physicians, pharmacies and opticians of any four-block area in the world, shopping is the thing to do. There are plenty of little curio and souvenir shops to visit, just be prepared to bargain.

Where to Eat in Los Algodones

Be sure to try some real tacos and margaritas while in Los Algodones, but be warned that the Margaritas may be pretty potent! Enjoy some al fresco dining at El Paraiso, The Garden Place, located in the centre of one of the shopping blocks any vendor will be able to direct you there. Don’t worry if your Spanish is not up to par as most of the businesses have employees that are fluent in English.

Ways to Pay

The US Dollar is the currency of choice.