Americans and Canadians wanting to save money on dental implants and other treatments might consider visiting a Tijuana dentist. Tijuana, Mexico is just south of the border from San Diego, California, but dental prices can be as much as 80% lower than in the US.
If you're considering a dental trip to get work like dental implants in Tijuana, Mexico, there are certain things to consider. In this guide we provide advice and information on:
- How to choose the best dentist in Tijuana for you
- The type of work you can have done
- How to get to Tijuana
- The practicalities of crossing the border
- Reviews of dentists in Tijuana
- Making it a dental vacation
We hope you find this information useful in deciding whether visiting a dental clinic in Tijuana is right for you.
Table of contents
Why visit a Tijuana dentist for dental implants or other work?
If you need dental work that seems unaffordable at US prices, you're probably considering joining the growing number of people turning to dental tourism. This simply involves traveling overseas to take advantage of lower prices – and often better service – in another country.
For North Americans, Mexico is the obvious choice because it is so close and has an excellent reputation for dentistry. There are plenty of other locations to consider for your dental trip, but let's look at what makes Tijuana a great choice for so many people.
Above all, it's Tijuana dentist prices which draw people here for treatment. Depending on the work you need and the location of your hometown dentist, you might save as much as 80% by getting dental work in Tijuana.
Dental prices in Tijuana are so much lower than in the US and Canada thanks to the lower cost of living which, in turn, reduces business expenses. Dentists are paid around a third of the average salary the other side of the border (approximately $74,000 compared to $15,000).
As the city has developed its dental tourism industry, competition between dentists has become stronger. They know that in order to build a good reputation among tourists they must keep prices low while having high-quality equipment and the latest training.
The following Tijuana dentist price list gives approximate costs for some common dental procedures:
|Treatment||Approx US price||Approx Tijuana price|
|Single dental implant||$1,500 - $6,000||$800 - $1,800|
|Porcelain crown||$800 - $2,000||$400 - $800|
|Porcelain veneer||$500 - $2,500||$300 - $700|
|Root canal||$700 - $1,000||$180 - $400|
Although these prices are attractive, it's important to base your decision on other factors as well. Check which materials your dentist is using since that's certainly one area you don't want them cutting costs.
If you have dental insurance it's possible your insurer has network dentists outside the US. Contact them to find out if you can use your cover at any Tijuana dentists since this will help reduce your costs even further. If not, you may still be able to find a dentist in Tijuana that takes US insurance – just ask when making your inquiries.
If you live anywhere along the west coast of the United States you'll find Tijuana is your nearest dental tourism hotspot. Los Algodones is another border town you could consider, although it doesn't have the same tourism appeal since it caters almost exclusively to medical tourists.
Tijuana's location just south of the Mexican border makes it a convenient place to visit, even for a day trip. The city is on the west coast about 20 miles south of San Diego, California. Further down you'll find more details about the different ways you can cross the border.
If you need braces, it's usually not practical to travel to another country to get them because you'll need to return every 6-8 weeks for checkups. However, if you live close enough you may just find it cost-effective to get braces in Tijuana. Don't forget to factor in the cost and time taken for traveling to the orthodontist when calculating whether the savings are really worth it.
A dental vacation
Since Tijuana is close to the coast it's also possible to turn your dental trip into a vacation. The majority of dentists are located in central Tijuana near the border, but there are a few further west by the beach. You'll find plenty of dentists in the resort town of Rosarito about 18 miles south of Tijuana, too.
It may be tempting to choose a dentist close to the beach to make the most of your vacation, but your main concern should be the quality of their work. You can always split your trip, having a week by the beach to relax and then a week in the city to get your teeth done.
Many procedures require you to wait a few days while lab work is completed, so this could be your chance to hit the beach or do some shopping.
Preparing for dental work in Tijuana
Many people travel to get dental implants in Tijuana since this is one of the most expensive procedures in the US – and therefore has the greatest opportunity for savings. Other common procedures for dental tourists in Tijuana include:
- Laser teeth whitening
- Braces (for those who live very close)
- Root canals
It wouldn't be worth traveling to Tijuana for a tooth pull alone, but if you need several smaller procedures the savings can soon add up, especially if you don't have far to travel.
Whatever dental work you need, here is some information to help you prepare.
When you're making such a big decision it's important to carefully research your choice of dentist. You can check review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp as well as independent blogs to read about other patients' experiences.
Once you have a shortlist of clinics you can contact them directly to ask about prices. Here are some other questions you may want to ask:
- What qualifications and ongoing training does your dentist have?
- Does the dentist have specialized training for the procedure you need?
- How long is the dental work guaranteed for?
- How does the clinic sterilize equipment?
- Does the clinic offer a pickup service to transport you across the border?
- If you have to stay overnight, is accommodation included or can they offer you discounted rates?
It's also important to research the procedure you are having. This will help you understand what is involved and prepare for any choices you may need to make.
If you're coming from San Diego you can take the San Diego Trolley right to the border. The Trolley also has links to San Diego International Airport (SAN) for those flying from further afield.
Alternatively, you can drive to the border either in your own car or a rental. It's possible to drive across but many people prefer to park in a parking lot on the US side and travel on foot or by public transport from there. Parking is secure and costs $7 per day on weekdays or $25 per day on weekends.
Another option is to fly straight into Tijuana Airport (TIJ) and avoid the border crossing. This route probably won't prove cost-effective, though, and you'll still have to take a bus or taxi into the city.
There are four ways to cross the border: walk, drive yourself, take the Tourismo Express bus, or get transport with your clinic, if available. Clinics offering this latter option might pick you up from San Diego airport or another location on the US side and will drive you directly to the dentist's office. This obviously involves the least hassle for you as you don't need to arrange anything for yourself.
If you decide to drive over you'll be able to continue straight to your dental center or accommodation but you're likely to face a long wait on the return journey since every car has to be checked by border staff. The delay is usually around 45-90 minutes and can be worse on weekends.
Wait times for crossing by foot are usually not as bad, although still significant. You'll need to be reasonably fit as the crossing is up a small hill and involves a 15-minute strenuous walk.
A few dental clinics are within easy walking distance of the border crossing but most will require you to take a taxi. The journey should cost between $5 and $15 depending on how far you're going. There is also the option of getting around by public transport.
Perhaps the most convenient way to cross is with the Tourismo Express shuttle bus. This leaves once an hour on both sides and has access to a special bus lane which makes the crossing much faster. From San Ysidro on the US side it will take you right into Tijuana and costs $10 for a round trip. The last return journey is at 7pm.
This blog has some excellent detailed information about how to make the crossing in any of these three ways, plus more information on public transport and places to shop. It also mentions that if you drive in Mexico you'll need to get Mexican auto insurance since US policies are not valid there.
When it comes to currency, you'll want to change some money to pesos to pay for taxis, food, shopping, etc. Many larger businesses accept US dollars but you are at the mercy of the exchange rate they set, which is usually not very competitive.
Ask your chosen clinic what payment methods they accept, and if they offer any discounts for paying in cash or in pesos, for example (but do note the safety point below about carrying cash with you). Also check what fees you will be charged – both by the clinic and by your bank – if you pay by debit or credit card. On a dental bill of thousands of dollars, a 5% charge is quite painful!
Dentists shouldn't charge for treatment upfront, except perhaps where lab work is required. If your treatment spans several visits they might ask you to pay for the work you've had done at the end of each day. Be wary of paying upfront before your treatment starts as this makes it harder to change your mind if you're unhappy about anything.
A decade ago Tijuana gained a bad reputation because of drugs and street violence. Now the picture is much improved, particularly in the main tourist areas of the city. The government is working hard to make Tijuana a safe place for tourists to visit, especially with its growing medical tourism industry.
Still, you'd be wise to take the same precautions as you would in any large, unknown city. Don't carry large amounts of cash on you and keep any valuables somewhere secure (preferably at home). You may prefer to travel by taxi after dark, especially if you are on your own. And don't get involved with drugs or anything else that could land you in trouble with the police.
Simply put, it's easy to stay out of trouble with a little common sense.
Reviews of dentists in Tijuana, Mexico
You'll want to read or watch plenty of reviews as you research getting dental work in Tijuana. Yelp, TripAdvisor and YouTube are all good places to start, but try to verify whether the review is from a genuine patient of the clinic. Ask around your family, friends, and colleagues to see whether any of them can give you recommendations based on their experiences. You can also check our article featuring reviews of dentists in Mexico, including in Tijuana.
You'll also find plenty of independent blogs where people share their experiences and tips. Here you can read about Erik, who traveled six hours each way to save $840 on his root canal treatment. He was happy with the work and is planning to return for more.
The following video review shows what it's like to cross the border on foot and what to expect when you reach the other side. This couple has been visiting a dentist in Tijuana for 10 years.
If you have found this information useful, we recommend you also read our guide to dental tourism in Mexico. This has some more helpful advice plus information on other destinations you might consider.
And don't forget to get your free quote to find out how much you can save!