A Quick Trip to Algodones, Mexico for Dental Implants: Review of Dr Rubio

Dr. Rubios very clean, modern, professional and high-tech office.

The border crossing into Algodones.

One question every vandweller has to answer is what they are going to do about health care. I’ve said many times that for now I am not doing anything about it. I have what a I call a .357 plan. When my health gets so bad that I can’t go on living the way I do now, I’ll take my .357 far out into the desert and use the .357 on myself. Problem solved. Until then, I’m just hoping my body holds out okay. But what about dental care? The quality of our teeth has a profound effect on the quality of our lives.

As I get older, a lifetime of bad habits are catching up with me and I am having more-and-more dental problems. For example, last summer the crown on one of my back teeth came off and I went to a dentist in Flagstaff, AZ to get it glued back on. He said at that time that both of my rear lower molars were in such bad shape they needed to be removed and implants put in. The reason I had to get implants was that three years ago the two top, rear molars had been extracted and that without these two molars, I didn’t have any molars left to chew with. He quoted me a cost of $12,500 to do the two extractions and put in two implants. That’s a lot of money!! Money I didn’t have. What was I going to do?

I’ve been going to Algodones, Mexico for many years now to get my prescription medications, dental work and eyeglasses. So I knew I could get the implants for a lot less there. Recently, the time has finally come to get the work done, so last Monday (12-16-2013) I drove down to Yuma, AZ and camped on the California side of the Colorado River near Algodones. On Tuesday I saw my dentist Dr, Rubio http://dentalrubio.com/ and on Wednesday I got the dental work done. After the appointment I did some shopping at Walmart in Yuma and then drove home.

So you can see it was just a quick trip, but that’s the beauty of living in a van and being a Snowbird. By camping in Arizona every winter, it’s so close to the Mexico border I can run down there in an afternoon. If I have a dental problem, I’m only 2 hours from the cheapest possible dental work (it’s only 100 miles from my camp in Ehrenberg and then another 10 miles to Algodones). Most people find that the full cost of dental work in Algodones is less than their co-pay—for those few people with dental insurance.

You may be thinking, “But do you get good dental care?” The answer is 100% a resounding “Yes!!” If I blindfolded you and took you into my Mexican Dentists office (and then took off the blindfold) and you got your teeth worked on, you couldn’t tell any difference from there and any Dentist’s office anywhere in America. It is totally clean, modern, professional and very high-tech. The only tip-off that you are in Mexico is that the employees are all Hispanic and speak Spanish to each other–but they all speak English to you, including the dentist.

Dr. Rubios very clean, modern, professional and high-tech office.

Dr. Rubios very clean, professional and high-tech office.

My good friend Randy Vinning http://mobilecodgers.blogspot.com/ has been going to Dr. Rubio for decades and highly recommends him, so when I needed two teeth extracted and two implants, there was no question that I would go to him. I’m very glad I did!

Dr. Rubio suggested that I get two implants but instead of both of them on one side he said I should get one implant on each side so I could have balance in my chewing. He thought that would be better for my teeth in the long run. If I later decided I needed them all, I could always get implants in the two missing teeth anytime in the future. That sounded like a much better plan than the American Dentists idea so I agreed to do that.

Dental-implantIf you aren’t familiar with implants they are a modern miracle of dental science! Essentially (and very oversimplified) a new tooth is bolted into your bone and becomes like a natural tooth. I know that sounds awful but it’s actually quite simple and very little pain is involved, but it does take some time. First I’ll tell you about the work on the right side because it was very simple. The bone on that side (where I had a molar removed a few years ago) was in good shape so he could do the implant the next day. He began by taking a casting of my mouth so he could make the crown later on. The he drilled into my jawbone and placed a small post made of titanium into the bone socket of where the tooth used to be. I know that sounds gruesome but it was no big deal at all and basically painless. As the jawbone heals, it grows around the implanted post, anchoring it securely in the jaw just like I was born with it. He said it would take about 3-4 months to heal and then I would come back for the second step of the process.

In three months, after it has healed, I’ll go back and a small connector post — called an abutment — is attached to the post to securely hold the new tooth. After that there is another two week break for that surgery to heal. As it is healing, he makes the crown and after it has healed I go back and the crown is attached to the abutment. Viola, a new, perfect tooth that should last me the rest of my life!

The second implant on the left side of my mouth was a little more complicated. He had to extract those two teeth, but there was too much bone loss in it to firmly hold the post. So after the extraction he did a bone graft which will heal and grow into solid bone just like I was born with it—leaving me with enough bone to hold the post. That will also take 3-4 months to heal. So when I go back to get the abutment put in on the right, he will place the titanium post into the bone for the implant on the left. Then four months after that he can put the second abutment and crown on.

Now for the all-important question, how much will all that cost and how much did I save by getting it done in Mexico?

Remember, I said the Flagstaff Dentist quoted $12,500 for two extractions and two implants. In Algodones the same thing will cost me $3890. Less than 1/3 the price! Not only that but I think Dr. Rubio gave me better advice about putting an implant on both sides instead of both on one side. It just makes sense chewing 100% of the time on one side of your mouth has to be a bad idea in the long run.

If you are looking for inexpensive, high-quality Dental care, I highly recommend Dr.Rubio! You can get it done cheaper in other offices in Algodones, but I prefer to pay a little more for the very best.  Here ia a map to his office and below that is a Satellite view.  To make an appointment or contact him: 928-255-0897   http://dentalrubio.com/index.php

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A satellite view of his office.

A satellite view of his office.


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

60 comments on “A Quick Trip to Algodones, Mexico for Dental Implants: Review of Dr Rubio
  1. Avatar DougB says:

    I’ve heard of a large-bore pistol being used for pain management in terminal cases and in situations where the last vestiges of hope have seemingly run out, but not for lifestyle management. Take care of those knees – no need to rush things along unnecessarily, hey?
    DougB recently posted…A Look Around the LTVAMy Profile

  2. Avatar Openspaceman says:

    Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson…it will take at least 40 yrs for Bob to get that famous and by that time you’ll be around 100 and your body will be all worn out anyway than you can consider the option they chose.

    *i’m kidding of course. I bet that dentist is doin just fine charging what he does instead of dealin’ with the insurance companies and all the other layers of crap he has to navigate to take care of someone a few miles away in the U.S.

    Bob_ Like you always say life can be a little more dangerous if you choose to think differently than the masses but freedom has it’s price. Good work.

  3. Avatar Vern M says:

    Enjoyed reading your promotion of Mexico as a source of dental implants, Bob.

    As a writer for my working life, much of it about healthcare and medicine for publications including the “FDA Consumer” magazine in the late 1980s-1990 era when the Branemark system introduced dental implants. Did anyone ever alert you to the very serious problems involved when it doesn’t go so well? Massive bone loss in the jaw is just one. Disfiguration. Lots of things I learned about but didn’t see in your story.

    Do your homework before you believe the people making money from you. It’s called “Informed Consent.”

    • Bob Bob says:

      Vern, thanks for the food for thought. We have gotten so used to “routine” surgery that we forget what a dangerous endeavor it is to cut open the human body. There are no guarantees in life, everything comes with a risk. However this one seems to have pretty minimal risk that I’m more than willing to take.

    • Avatar HoboHounds says:

      As a dental professional for my working life, I would have to say that Bob’s info on CURRENT dental implants is very accurate. A lot has changed since the “1980’s-1990 era” when it comes to dentistry. There is always a risk involved when undergoing any type of dental procedure, even routine dental fillings. The difference is that now dentists are informed as to what can contribute to these complications (certain health conditions/medications)and are able to better inform patients of such risks. Bottom line is that dental implants are the superior solution when it comes to replacing a tooth in terms of longevity, patient comfort, and esthetics.

      • Bob Bob says:

        HoboHounds, you are 100% right. For example, one of my implants is going into the top molar and Dr, Rubio was very concerned about the risk of hitting the sinus, which is a real potential nightmare. So before he would do the procedure he had me go to another office and get a CT scan (cost $150). He said it gave him so much more information than an X-ray that he could safely proceed. That afternoon he showed it to me on the computer screen in the dental room and he said I had enough room so there was no risk of hitting it. As he did the implant, he was looking at both my teeth and the CT scan, tremendously increasing the safety of the procedure.

        I am 100% confident there is no dental care anywhere on earth better than what I got.

  4. Bob and I were sort of dental patients passing in the night. I had just had root canal and gotten a crown a couple of days before he arrived. Los Algodones is chock-a-block with dental and optical professionals and pharmacies. I got two pairs of continuous focus bifocal lenses put into my existing frames there for only $360 total.

    If you don’t mind camping among big RVs, you can stay free at the casino about a mile and a half from the border. And all-day parking at the border is only $6. It’s about 50 yards from the parking lot to the crossing and the lines coming back into the US are short and fast — until prime snowbird season in January. Even so, it’s not like any of the big border crossings elsewhere.

    My dentist (a different one than Bob’s) takes only cash or checks, no credit cards. I suppose that’s the case with the others.
    Al Christensen recently posted…Back to our regularly scheduled sunsetMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Als, right, he only takes cash or check. There are a very few dentists in Algodones that take CCs, but not many. You’ll have to search to find one. And he will pass along the 3-5% he pays for using the card to you. I meant to say that but I forgot, thanks for reminding me!

    • Avatar John Dough says:

      Check out zennioptical.com (no affiliation)
      Glasses are super cheap there, I mean seriously cheap, you can find stuff for $8-10.

      • Bob Bob says:

        Thanks for that link John!

      • Avatar K. Will says:

        Upvote for Zenni Optical– I got 3 pairs of glasses there, grand total $35.87. I am still using them 5 years later. They don’t show a scratch, the plastic on the frames has not turned white, and the fit is as good as ever. (Growing up, I always had to live with scratched lenses for a good part of the life of my glasses, so I am thrilled that there aren’t any.) I will be sad when I have a new prescription and have to get new ones because these are still good.

    • Avatar David Parker says:

      “stay free at the casino … .” Please expand on this a little. I am interested in staying somewhere within walking distance of Los Algodones during an implant work, so how do I get to stay at the casino for free?

      David Parker

      • Bob Bob says:

        David, the great majority of Casinos across the country welcome you to stay for free in their parking lot. They know many of us will come in and eat and gamble. The Q Casino is right off I-8 and probably 5 miles (or less) to Algodones–but I’ve never measured it.They have a big gravel parking lot that you can setup camp in and stay as long as you want. No regestration or anything, you just set up camp. The Quechen Indian tribe owns most of the land around there and they have a campground right next to Algodones and you can dry camp there for very little, I think $5, but I’m not sure.

  5. Avatar m.a. says:

    Last winter I got three..that’s THREE..pairs of glasses – one bifocal tinted, on bifocal clear and prescription reading – for $117. In 2 1/2 hours. I had my prescription, but if I didn’t they would have done the exam for free. And I had the best street tacos I’ve ever eaten for $1.50 @ while I waited. And a tattoo. 🙂

    • Avatar Michael Kane says:

      Got all my teeth crowned in Algodones in 2007 for $125.00 a crown and not one problem. Very, very happy with the results and would highly recommend anyone needing dental work to check out the dentists in Los Algodones. You will save a ton of money and get it done just as well as American dentists, if not better and a heck of a lot faster.

      • Bob Bob says:

        Michael, absolutely right!! The speed is the amazing thing, usually they will make the crown that day and you can get it put on that night or the next day for sure. My dentist, Dr. Rubio also runs a dental laboratory that makes 100,000 crowns a month for himself and the other dentists in town. http://dentalrubio.com/services.php He probably made the crowns put in your mouth!

      • Avatar David Parker says:

        Dear Michael,
        Me too and five years later I have five cavities underneath the crowns and am looking at $4,000 in root canals, extractions, and implants are on top of that. Dr. Navarro’s office. I didn’t even see Dr. Navarro, just one of his interns. The office people were excellent, polite, the doctora tried very hard and was very considerate, but her work was not the best. The temporaries I left with the first time came off while I tried to eat a hamburger and I had to pay a local dentist to glue them back on. I never could floss, the floss would get cut and snarl up between my teeth and was difficult to remove. I couldn’t afford to shuttle from home to Algodones so it was toothpicks and toothbrushes and do the best I could. Now I am paying again for dental work that should have taken me to the grave.

        The interns gained some experience and I suppose it got me by for five years, but let me tell you, you don’t want to discover problems like this with a water pic!

        Now I am looking for a GOOD dentist in Algodones! Love the reviews posted here and I am reading all of them this time.

        David Parker

    • Bob Bob says:

      m.a. I remember you getting those glasses and thinking what a good deal that was!! You’re a tattooed lady now so you can’t come to the RTR!! You know I’m kidding!!! I can’t wait to see you again!

      Lots of great place to eat in Algodones! Across the street from my dentist is a little street cafe that had 3 tacos, beans and rice for $3.99. I got a chicken, beef and fish and they were all great!! But the fish was the best, it was light, fresh and delicious. Next time I’ll get all fish!

  6. Avatar Papas says:

    Bob our friend Dean also went there this week….he found a bus that cost him $15 round trip from Quartszite…..he told me he had a great time and would recommend it to everyone.

    • Bob Bob says:

      papas, I knew there was a bus but I didn’t know it was that cheap. That’s pretty amazing. I have to go back in two weeks so I may take it down. Can you ask Dean for contact information like a name, phone number or website? Thanks!!

  7. Avatar Tom says:

    Another great post. We all can complain about the economy, low income and high prices. But this is a great example how you can effect change in your life if you’re willing to consider the possibilities. I’m on a fixed income, as individuals, we can change and react faster and more effectively then businesses, retailers and government.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Right, Tom. For many of us living in a van is all about living as cheaply as possible with the highest quality of life possible. Going to Algodones is a sure way to do that.

  8. Bob, as for the .357 plan, it will only work if your mind doesn’t go first and you forget the plan. You might need a Plan B in that case. lol
    Charlene Swankie recently posted…Resources for VandwellersMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Charlene, my spam blocker is still calling you spam. If you shorten your link it will probably stop.

      I heard of a great plan B for just that. You carry a vial of cyanide around your neck with a note that says, “If you can’t remember what this is for, drink it!” Not a bad idea!

  9. Avatar Silvianne says:

    Thanks for the post, Bob. This is very exciting news, I’ve been needing routine dental work and have had no insurance and no money. Now with my Amazon savings and Mexico prices I’ll be able to remedy all that. And fish tacos across the street–I have died and gone to Heaven!!!

    Do I absolutely have to have a passport to get in and out? Mine is expired and in my old name (which I changed legally and the old looks nothing like the new so it is SUSPICIOUS). I have driver’s license, SS card, etc. with the new identity. I meant to apply for the passport before I left home… oh dear.

  10. Avatar CAE says:

    I went to India for a very expensive surgical procedure that they were also experts in performing. Cost me 90% less than in the US. That was 4 years ago and the results are nothing less than amazing. The US medical industry is a cartel. Leave the country and it gets astoundingly less costly and in many cases it’s better.
    I still meet people that think I was crazy for going there. And some of them had similar procedures here in the US and the doctors botched it up so badly they’ve had to go back for more surgery!

    • Avatar Openspaceman says:


      When I lived in Chicago a lot of my friends were East Indian and the majority of the medical pros I came in contact with whether Dr.’s or Surgeon’s were also from there. If I had something major to take care of I would definitely take the same trip. It’s simple economics…I read recently that 60% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. are medical related. What a F’ing shame or sham however you look at it.

    • Avatar HoboHounds says:

      In all fairness, a medical procedure could be “botched up” wherever it is performed. It’s a total crap shoot either way, so you might as well pay less for it!

    • Bob Bob says:

      CAE, many people have your exact same experience! Medical tourism has become a big thing. Many people find that even after they pay for very expensive airfare they save a ton of money over getting the surgery done in the U.S.

      Thanks for your feedback.

  11. Thanks for the recommendation, Bob. I’ve been planning to go to Mexico for an implant (for that embarrassing gap in my front teeth) as soon as I can save up for it, but I wanted a referral to a trusted dentist first. This is it!
    LaVonne Ellis recently posted…Is your flakiness flaring up for the holidays?My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      LaVonne, same thing with me, every dentist down there advertises implants but some are tiny offices and they are scary. But getting a recommendation from my trusted friend Randy made me feel lots better! And he was right, Dr. Rubio is outstanding!

  12. Avatar Canine says:

    As a fellow dog owner, I’m curious: How was it crossing the border with your four-legged friend? Any rules like Canada?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Canine, I’ve never crossed the border with Homer. Algodones is set up for walking. You can park and be at the first dentist office 5 minutes later. It’s a very small place so the great majority of people just walk over to it.

      By getting there in December and January it is cool enough for Homer to stay in the van and be comfortable so he just stays in the van.

  13. Avatar Phyllis Anne says:

    I feel I have a little to add to this discussion.

    My son’s friend since aged 10 is Eddie, who was born in Mexico, lived in US since age 2 as a citizen with parents (also citizens), and in 1998 went to Dental College in Mexico. He then came back to the US, took a few classes the US required to Mexico trained dentists (and said were basically review of the same classes he’d taken in Mexico and somewhat a waste of money and only designed to make money for the US). Eddie passed his US dental licensing exam on first try. He now has a practice here in US, and says that dental schools in Mexico are as good as in the US. He also says that there are good and less good dentists in every country. Eddie volunteers dental work in Mexico twice a year to the poorest areas and travels in a RV dental “office”.

    I am comfortable, I will go to Dr Rubio when the time comes.

  14. Avatar lonfu says:

    Hi Bob! We must have crossed paths. We were down there doing about the same thing as you. We happend to use the Bernal dental group. Sounds like the cost was about the same. I think it important to hook up with the denist that actually does the implant as you have. Some of them will set you in the chair and then have another doctor come in and do the implant. I think having the labs that make the prosthetic close by makes the entire experiance so much more positive. Wifes implant was $1100 (usa quote 2700), my fills were $70 each, cleaning was $40, we couldn’t have afforded it here in the states. Bifocal glasses with non breakable frames were $85 including the eye exam. Ready in 2 hours. Easy $250 in the states. Yep, cash or check. We stayed in the sleepy hollow rv park, run by the quechen indian rez. $15 per night or $50 for 4 nights(free dump and water but no power), it was right next to the parking lot at the border. It might have been 100 yard walk to the border. full hookups are available but they uped the price this year to $50 per night or $150 per week. Last year it was $25 per night. The park looks run down from the street but is more of a rustic style park with no paved areas so it changes each time it rains hard. Besides we met more interesting folks back in the dry camp area, more vans and such.

  15. Avatar Gina says:

    Does Dr. Rubio’s office accept out of state personal checks? From UT, CO or NY for example? Did you read any reviews before you decided to go to Dr. Rubio or just went because of your friend’s experience? Did you food shop in Los Algodones? I mean can you bring fruit or vegetables back to the U.S. or do you buy and eat right there? I guess you pay with the American dollars, right? Thanks Bob for a great blog

    • Bob Bob says:

      Hi Gina, yes, Dr. Rubio takes cash and checks from the U.S., but not Credit Cards. Cash transactions in Algodones are all done in American dollars, no exchange necessary. No, I’ve never brought back food. You actually cross the border in California and they are extremely strict about allowing fruits and vegetalbes in the state. I doubt it would be allowed. You buy and eat right there. I already had a generally positive view of Dr. Rubio, although I can’t remember why. So my friends recomendation was all I needed.

  16. Avatar Chip Cavender says:

    What type of anesthesia does Dr Rubio use doing the implants? I have had one implant here in Delaware and the Dr used pills that put me to sleep and he gave me numbing injections. I slept through the entire process so someone had to drive me home afterwards.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Chip. he just used a regular injection on me. But I believe there must have been a sedative or something in it because I was unusaally relaxed for being at the dentists. It was painless.

      He probably can knock you out but I don’t know.

  17. Whew. My neck hurts reading all these comments. Tired me out. But having paid that price, I should leave a comment. In 1998 I was recommended to Dr. Rubio by a veteran pilot for the CIA’s secret airline company. He had flown for Air America in Vietnam. A good friend. At the time, my needed dental work was estimated (US) to cost me $30,000. Dr. Rubio took care of the whole thing. It has been too many years to recall exactly the savings, but I remember that including travel and lodging it was all done for about $5,000. Quality? I had three separate local (Central California coast) ask me, “Where WHERE did you GET those crowns?” His work is fantastic, and his team is good too.

  18. Avatar Glenys and colin says:

    Hi Bob we have been going to Algadones for years and would never go to a dentist in the U.S. it’s far too expensive thanks to the Dental Association fixing prices coast to coast .
    I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend going to Mexico for dental care

  19. Avatar Samm says:

    Hi, I’ve been looking for a good place to get massive dental work done (1 implant on each lower side, cosmetic work on lower front chipped teeth, all but the front 5 teeth are missing on top, and they need to be capped (in dental terms, they’re referred to as “collapsed”). A local dentist said it would be $20,000 for the upper implants alone. I received 4 estimates from a Costa Rican dental practice, ranging from $22,000-$32,000. I have a hard time understanding the estimates, and 1 had a tooth replacement charged twice. So I’m looking at Mexico and your blog reassures me. I have 3 herniated discs in my neck, and take daily opiods for it. Would I have a problem crossing with my meds in their prescription bottle?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Samm, I think you will save a whole lot of money in Algodones!! No on in Mexico cares or will ever know what you are carrying. When you return to the USA, 99% of the time the ask what you are bringing in from Mexico, look at your bag of stuff and that’s it–nothing more. I’ve never seen anything else happen, but it must sometime.

      I don’t think you will have any problem at all.

  20. Avatar Samm says:

    Thank you! I’ll let you know how it turns out, including accommodations. I have a pop-up camper, but will have to be flying down from Portland OR, so will be looking for a place to stay. Not sure whether it would be better to find a place in Algodones, or across the border.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Samm, the Q Casino is very nearby and they may even run a shuttle to and from Algodones. You could also fly into Phoenix or Yuma, rent a car and get a motel in Yuma. All would be pretty reasonable prices.
      http://www.playqcr.com/ website of the Q.

  21. Avatar Mau says:

    Hi, Bob. I was wondering if Dr. Rubio does root canals /crowns and such or if he strictly does implants?

  22. Avatar Warren says:

    Bob, thanks for all of the great information. My concern is public restrooms while in Algodones. I read somewhere that there are restrooms just inside the border. Would those be near the line to reenter the US? Is it accepted that you can use them and then get back in line where you were? Thanks again.

  23. Avatar Dewey says:

    Hey Bob, do you need a passport to cross the border into Mexico? I assume you go on foot.

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