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Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico

By Ali Karim

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico
May 2019

In late April, my Dentist in Dallas had recommended that to fix issues with food getting stuck between 2 of my molars, I needed to get an onlay on one of the molars. Cost estimate was $1200; and that it would take 1 week for the onlay to get made at a local lab; using computerized equipment to make the onlay. My Dallas dentist is wonderful, very reasonably priced, and one of the best dentists’ I have used; BUT I thought spending over a thousand dollars on one tooth was too high; being the cheapskate that I am.

So, I researched alternatives, and was recommended by my friend, Shanawaz, to try out a dentist in Nuevo Progresso, Mexico; which is across the border from McAllen, Texas, USA. This was a dentist he and his family have used for several years now and have been very happy. I talked to the staff at this dental office, and they informed me the pricing which was attractive, and that if we arrived early before 9:30AM, then they would be able to computer generate the onlay I needed by 2:30PM that same afternoon, as they had the lab in their own facility. I would therefore be taken care of the same day; no waiting overnight.

So after making an early morning appointment, we took a late evening flight from Dallas to McAllen, TX, and spent the night at a Holiday Inn near the airport. Dinner was at a nearby local Mexican food place; where they were making fresh tortillas.

Next morning, we picked up a rented car at McAllen airport. The rental car was not as cheap as we get in Dallas and other places; and upon inquiring, it seems that there is a lot of business traffic between US and Mexico here, and therefore, there are a lot of other businesses that support this, resulting in a lot of demand for rental cars (& I assume, hotel rooms). Anyway, we drove about 20 miles east to Weslaco; and then turned south to the Mexico border; about 7 miles away. When we arrived at the border, we parked the car at a parking lot on the US side of the border; cost was $3, that we paid to a very pretty parking attendant. Then, we walked to cross the Rio Grande river border bridge.

Dental Refugee Bridge to cross over to Mexico. The only ATM in the area (including Nuevo Progresso) is here
Bridge to cross over to Mexico. The only ATM in the area (including Nuevo Progresso) is here
Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico To cross the bridge on foot, there is a $1 toll; only payable in coins, with change machine nearby
To cross the bridge on foot, there is a $1 toll; only payable in coins, with change machine nearby, or a change lady attendant
Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico Nice view from the bridge of the Rio Grande and Mexico
Nice view from the bridge of the Rio Grande and Mexico

To cross from the US to Mexico, there is no US Immigration or Customs you have to pass thru. You simply walk from the US to Mexico

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico The actual border on the bridge over the Rio Grande river
The actual border on the bridge over the Rio Grande river

On the Mexico side, to enter Mexico, there was also no Mexican Immigration or Customs we had to go through; the only thing we had to do was to put our backpacks through the X-ray scanner. And we were in the town of Nuevo Progresso , in Mexico 🙂

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico View of Nuevo Progresso, Mexico, at end of bridge
View of Nuevo Progresso, Mexico, at end of bridge

What we noticed as soon as we left the bridge, was the multitude of Dental offices here; with people giving you business cards of the Dentists, and offering to take you to the Dentists that had paid them; commission basis.

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico There are dentists galore here, for several blocks deep and several blocks wide, into the town. So having a recommendation is paramount.
There are dentists galore here, for several blocks deep and several blocks wide, into the town. So having a recommendation is paramount.

We found our dentist here where we had booked the appoints for us both.

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico Our dentist’s office
Our dentist’s office

We were both ushered into the dental offices inside. The offices were open concept, and the whole place was very modern, clean and immaculate; and all facilities like X-rays, labs etc were within.

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico Inside the dental office; modern, clean and immaculate
Inside the dental office; modern, clean and immaculate

I got a young male dentist, who spoke no English, but there was always a translator around, so no issue with communication. Dilshad got a young lady dentist, who did speak English.

Prognosis for me was the onlay (the main reason we had come here for), Panoramic X-ray, regular cleaning and 5 small fillings in other teeth (do I have bad teeth or what?).

Prognosis for Dilshad was Panoramic X-ray, deep cleaning, 6 small fillings. Dilshad decided to get Zoom teeth whitening done also.

We were aware we need the smaller fillings from our US dental visits.

So the 2 dentists started working on us with Panoramic X-rays first. After about 2hrs, all the work was done, including impressions for my onlay. And we were told to return at 2:30PM, to install my onlay.

So we walked around the town, had some food, and while I got a haircut, Dilshad got a Pedicure/Manicure in the small town. We did notice that while there were mostly dentists here, there were a lot of Pharmacies also, where one could get prescription meds over the counter. There were also a few other medical services were available; but not as extensive as Dentists.

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico Main drag in Progresso Nuevo
Main drag in Progresso Nuevo
Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico Lunchtime
Lunchtime

At 2:30PM, we returned, and I went back in the chair to get the onlay installed, and adjustments made as needed. By 3:30PM, we were done. Total cost for all the dental work for both of us, including the Onlay, the lunch, haircut, mani/pedicure was about $1100; just a little less than what I would have paid for 1 onlay with my Dallas dentist.

After strolling and checking out a few shops etc; we decided to head back to the US; for an evening flight back to Dallas. So, we walked back towards the bridge to cross it. To cross the bridge from Mexico to US, the toll cost was 25 cents.

On the bridge and the short road leading to it, we saw migrants camped out, wanting to get entry to the USA. See below

Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico Migrants camped out waiting to get entry into the US
Migrants camped out waiting to get entry into the US

These migrants were being taken care of by NGO’s here, and were waiting their turn to seek asylum in the USA. At the border crossing on the bridge, there was a metal gate (Dilshad would not allow me to take pictures of this immigration point) and several Immigration officers were present. All we had to do was to show our passports and they allowed us back into the US. I asked one of the officers why these camped out migrants were not being processed, and the answer was that the Regional holding facility nearby where migrants are taken for processing and housing, were full to capacity. So they were patiently waiting their turn (in the open). I asked how many migrants they process a day, and I was told that only 2-3 migrants were allowed into the US for processing per week, because of no room. Very sad situation. And no, I did not see any migrants trying to cross the Rio Grande river; too close to US authorities.

We walked to our car, drove to McAllen airport, returned the car, and took the last evening flight back to Dallas. All in all, a good experience. The only very sad part was the migrants.

The dental work was good and efficient, but the only way to determine if the work was good and high quality, is to get another US dentist to check it out. I have not done this yet, but so far, I have not had any issues, and neither has Dilshad. We keep our fingers crossed, and we have decided to come back here every 6 months for cleanings; arriving early morning, and flying back that same afternoon/evening. We did not see may other Dental Refugees, but were assured that many people cross over from the USA for dental work daily.

This entry was posted in Mexico, Neuvo Progresso, North America

25 thoughts on “Dental Refugee, Nuevo Progresso, Mexico

  • Alnoor October 14, 2019 at 10:25 am Reply

    Very informative post. Interesting to see so many dentists. I have heard that it is a lot cheaper however, I always imagined the standards maybe low. Having seen the pictures of the Dental office it seems to be upscale and professional. Good option to think about when I retire and won’t have a Dental plan. Keep us updated when you get it checked in the US.

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 3:21 pm Reply

      Thanks Alnoor, for your feedback. The whole experience was definitely very professional, modern, clean, and good. When I do need to go next to a dentist in the US, UK or Canada, I will ask them for their opinion on the Mexican “job”. But I do feel that the work was very good.
      Sometimes, we in NA seem to think that no other country can match the level of services and quality we get in NA; but there are many places in other parts of the world that are just as good if not better 🙂 IMHO

  • Azmina Bhaidani October 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm Reply

    Wow that’s awesome I need crown done I should look into it. Thanks Ali 🙏💕

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 2:38 pm Reply

      Thanks for the feedback; I have PM’d you the contact info.

  • Aly Manji October 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm Reply

    Dear Ali,

    Great story and sad to hear about the migrants as well. Only 2-3 migrants get processed daily is a ridiculous number and very unfair.

    Glad to hear the dental work was good and glad you were able to share the story. You sure took a risk but glad to everything worked out. Now going a second time through you guys will be more confident and will probably end up spending more money to helping their economy, which is nice. I’m sure the food was awesome. Eating fresh made tacos must have been a real treat.

    Interesting story for sure. In Canada we have dental coverage through our work insurance. Not everyone has this so may be travelling to Mexico like you would be an option.

    Take good care and continue to share your outstanding pictures along with amazing stories.

    You guys are wonderful risk takers and therefore get an opportunity to experience life to the fullest.

    I’m including Shelifa my wife as she will really enjoy following your blog as well.

    Thank you again,
    Aly

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm Reply

      Wow; thanks Aly for the wonderful feedback. Yes, we do take risks, which are hopefully calculated risks 🙂 . But more than risks, we try and push the envelope a little more outside our comfort zone, to gain more local experiences of the culture and the people. The only way to do this is to travel and live a little more locally :). By sharing the blogs with everyone, we hope to inspire our readers to go see the beautiful world and experience the local cultures and people; who think & live very differently from us 🙂

      And regarding the migrants; they only process 2-3 people per week, not per day. This is very very sad IMHO.

      Thanks again for reading my blogs and the feedback.

  • Mahamud Jinnah October 14, 2019 at 1:56 pm Reply

    Awesome story.after adding car and hotel and for non aa employees who need to buy airfare would Progresso make sense

    Very sad about migrants

    Hope you and dilshad are well

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 2:49 pm Reply

      Thanks Mahamud; for your feedback. For non-airline people, the cost of air travel would add to the cost and probably not cost effective. I know of Shanawaz who actually drives there with his family from Dallas; so saves the cost of travel, but does incur the cost of the hotel stay. However, for dental work for all his whole family, this does make sense for him.

  • Gulnar Jiwa October 14, 2019 at 1:57 pm Reply

    Hi Ali,

    Thanks for the info. We currently are covered for dental work by my work insurance, but that will be gone in a couple of years and I keep thinking about the cost of dental work. Hope you both will experience no issues with your made-in-Mexico dental work. Keep us posted, Who knows, we might end up there as well.

    PS. I have heard that universities that have school of dentistry, give huge discount on dental work as they need “Guinea pigs” to practice on, they also seem to do a good job.

    Regards, Gulnar

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 2:53 pm Reply

      Hi Gulnar, thanks for the feedback. Yes, dental schools definitely offer this option and many people use this optioni successful as they are overseen by the teaching staff.

  • Nazmin Alani October 14, 2019 at 2:36 pm Reply

    Nice blog. You were just getting anxious to do another trip. For about $1,200 you got to see another interesting place rather than boring Dallas.
    I assume safety was never an issue?

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 2:56 pm Reply

      Hi Nazmin, thanks for your feedback. Yes, safety was not an issue here, though we were warned not to venture towards Reynosa, a neighboring town that was more dodgy.

  • Barkat Basaria October 14, 2019 at 2:37 pm Reply

    Dear Ali & Dilshad,

    I really admire Dilshad’s and your trips to all over the world and I appreciate ya’ll for sharing openly and honestly for people like us to learn about so many things ya’ll have seen and what is going on in this world. My hat off to you guys, and please keep on and continue what you guys are doing, I love it and thanks for sharing all your adventures!

    With best wishes to you both and as always our humble prayers for you both to have safe trips, welcome back home!

    Barkat & Farida Basaria

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 3:01 pm Reply

      Hi Barkat and Farida, thanks so much for this honest and wonderful feedback; it warms my heart to know that people enjoy reading our ramblings. So glad you are enjoying them. Thanks for the prayers also; we all need them

  • Amin Somji October 14, 2019 at 3:05 pm Reply

    Great blog, super pics and a nudge to those who can do this from Texas….Thanks for sharing….

    Amin

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 3:08 pm Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Amin; yes, I think many Texans, Americans and even Canadians do this regularly.This Dental Tourism is becoming popular in places like Tijuana and other places on the border.

  • Azeem Asaria October 14, 2019 at 3:08 pm Reply

    This was an interesting blog.

    I have heard about dental services across the border.

    You had no issues crossing the border and I assume you felt safe.

    I am thinking of of getting dental implants.

    Your thoughts and your dentists name.

    • Ali Karim October 14, 2019 at 3:12 pm Reply

      Hi Azeem, Thanks for the email.

      There were no issues crossing the border in either direction, and we felt safe all the time we were there; no issues.

      I have PM’d you their contact info

      We were happy with their work and their office. Make sure to ask for someone English speaking for least issues in communications

  • SID PANJWANI October 15, 2019 at 10:07 pm Reply

    Very informative and sounds like you got a break out of it too. Glad to hear everything went well and I will keep this in mind for next time. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ali Karim October 16, 2019 at 9:15 am Reply

      Thanks Sid

  • Ashraf Daredia October 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm Reply

    Good read

  • Naz October 18, 2019 at 2:19 pm Reply

    This is my first time reading your blog. I appreciate the effort you make to educate all your readers on your experiences. Very generous of you to take the risks and provide the results to us. However, can you clarify why you think it made sense to you to pay almost the same as you would pay in America i.e. $1200 for one inlay. Am I missing something or is it the fillings came in the cost too.

    • Ali Karim October 19, 2019 at 7:57 am Reply

      Hi Naz, thanks for the email. Sorry if I was not clear in the blogpost.
      So to clarify, the onlay in USA alone would have cost me $1200. We paid $1100 total, for my dental work (Panoramic Xray, Onlay, 5 fillings and cleaning) AND for Dilshad’s dental work (Panoramic Xray, 6 small fillings, Deep Cleaning and Zoom Teeth Whitening) AND Dilshad’s Manicure+Pedicure, my Haircut, AND Lunch.
      So yes, a decent savings. However, you do need to factor in the transportation costs and hotel stay if staying overnight.
      Hope that helps

  • Nazmu Mukhida October 19, 2019 at 6:09 pm Reply

    Hi Ali and Dilshad

    Interesting reading. Dental treatment is also very expensive here (England). Lot of people go to India and east European countries.

    • Ali Karim October 19, 2019 at 6:14 pm Reply

      Thanks Nazmu; it is sad that in the “developed” western countries, that dental care is expensive. In the US, medical care is also expensive if you dont have insurance; no free medical for all 🙁

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