Visiting the Dentist in Los Algodones

Quechan Casino and parking lots. We stayed here three different nights because it’s so close to the border. Vehicles to the left and across the back in the dirt lot are all campers.

February 5 – February 13, 2018.

“Open.” Oh, English. That was for me. I open my mouth wider. It’s really my only job here.

Hard to believe I was dozing off in a dentist’s chair, with people working in my mouth, but it has been six steady hours. And the soft guitar music and constant murmur of professionals speaking to each other in Español has taken its toll.

Then they finish, and I’m halfway through my week of dental work in Los Algodones. I go out to the lobby to find that Juan, the receptionist, has given Duwan a huge slice of cake. “Do I want any?” Actually, I could really use a banana. Juan gives me a banana and a piece of cake.

We step out into the street, and walk past a few dentist and optometrist offices to the closest pharmacy. I get my scrips, and we walk past even more medical businesses, through the gauntlet of vendors and hawkers offering to find us the very best tooth and eye care. In a few minutes we are standing in a long line of gringos waiting to walk through customs back into the U.S.

We’re greeted by a vendor calling “Welcome to the line! Need water?” He’s not alone. People are selling Mexican pastries, candy, hand-made bracelets, purses, blankets and garden sculptures. Accordion players with beat up instruments entertain for tips. There is plenty of banter. “You didn’t even give me a chance to rip you off.” And “Chapter 11 prices here. I need money to build a wall.”

After crossing, we walk to the $6 parking lot, and drive out to find our campsite for the weekend.

Back in Tucson, I did Internet research on dentists. I narrowed the list and called for prices. On Feb 2nd I called and made an appointment for Tues. Feb 6th. In an office of three dentists, I would have the youngest. There was a longer wait for the more experienced guys.

On Mon. Feb. 5th we drove to the Quechan Casino, less than two miles from the border. We spent the night in a large free parking lot full of RVs and vans.

The Tuesday appointment was for cleaning, Xrays, damage report, and estimate. The office exterior and interior were very clean. Everyone was cordial and professional. The dire warnings and recriminations I expected (and deserve) did not materialize. I paid the $100, and made an appointment for Friday.

I took my estimate and we drove off into the desert to camp and decide which teeth to work on. I hadn’t been to a dentist since we quit our “real” jobs. I’ve lost crowns and (50 year old) fillings, and some teeth have just broken. But no real emergencies. The next day I called Juan to tell him what I wanted done.

On Friday the root canal specialist does her thing on two teeth. She has trouble with the third. It’ll have to be pulled. (I think she worked with it about an hour, but they only charged me for the cheaper extraction.)

Then my dentist makes impressions, installs the temporary crowns, and fills a cavity. I’m prescribed pain medication, but they’ve done nothing to hurt me. We go to our weekend campsite and come back on Tues. the 13th.

On Tues. we start with two extractions. One goes well. On that problem tooth a root breaks off. My guy struggles with it a bit, then calls in the senior dentist. He has it out in less than two minutes. A quick Xray to make sure (they often took Xrays after each step. I could watch them appear on the monitor).

My dentist removes his Batman doo-rag, so I will pay attention to his serious tone. I get instructions for the next five days, and we’re done for now. Total cost for dental work: $1,580 (Cleckup, cleaning, x-rays, two extractions, one filling, impressions, two root-canal/crowns). Prescriptions: $30.16. Parking: $18. I need more work done. I’ll be back next year.

To learn more about the dentist I choose, Bernal Dental Group, click here.

Right now this very minute, we are camped out in Plaster City. It is a large, flat, scraggly piece of desert where OHVs come to ride fast over the sand and dirt. The wind is blowing like crazy (30 mph), rocking the van, even so, Greg is outside practicing his accordion. But this is today (Saturday) and by the time you read this it is quite possible that we will have left the country. That’s right, we are going south, taking Ballena Blanca and Bob with us this time, over the border, to Baja California, Mexico.

* All pics are click to enlarge.

We checked out the inside of Qucehan. It was a little smoky.

Medical offices in Los Algodones.

Lots of curio shops alongside the dentists and optometrists.

Here’s the pharmacy we used.

All the sidewalks are lined with vendors. Everyone offers you something, but backs off if you say you’re not interested.

We ate here. The proprieter is much friendlier than in this picture. He said “Free beer. Sit. Eat.” I asked “What kind?”. He replied “Mexican. Sit.”

Put in front of us before the free beers arrived.

And we got to hear some music while we lunched.

Best drug prices here!

Porcelain Day of the Dead dolls.

Our office, with no one in front pressuring you to come in.

Our waiting room.

More of our waiting room.

Duwan’s cake on our last visit. This piece had a cream cheese frosting. On an earlier visit there was another cake, chocolate with a layer of flan.

Not our dentist.

The line to get back into the US.

Wall at the border.

Here is our second campsite, a few miles from the Quechan casino. We passed the more crowded area in the background.

We drove a bit farther for our next, more scenic, campsite.

And here’s a hummingbird drinking from an ocotillo bloom.

12 thoughts on “Visiting the Dentist in Los Algodones

  1. John McDonough said:

    Have fun in Baja! We had lots of good times in Ensenada if you’re going that far (or further).

    • Duwan said:

      Thanks! Yes, we are going to Ensenada and further. No plan, though – figuring it out as we go.

  2. Jo said:

    So happy that the dentist worked out for you!

    • Duwan said:

      We are too! Thanks Jo!

  3. Terry said:

    I was there in Los Algodones to see a dentist not so long ago…I recommend going to anyone. Looks like you guys are having such a good time. Have a great time in Mexico! Oh yea, Bob’s brothers and sisters say hello….cheers.

    • Duwan said:

      Aw, Bob says Hola back. He is enjoying Mexico so far. He wants a Mexican wrestling mask, but I don’t think they make them in his size.

  4. Brenda Koncoski said:

    Glad the dentist was good. I about have a nervous breakdown when I have to go, but I go. Love the humming bird. Keep the updates coming. Enjoy reading them.

    • Duwan said:

      Thanks! Greg tried to talk me into a cleaning, but I don’t much like dentists either. Maybe next time. Glad you liked the hummingbird!

  5. Capt. Robert said:

    Cagey bastards. Of course, they give out cake so you’ll get a cavity and come back.
    Wow Greg my mouth hurts from reading this. Could you see the Trump wall from the dentist’s chair?

    PS: I think UKIYO is sold 🙁

    • Duwan said:

      The wall was just a block away from the dentist. Pretty weird, the town backs right up to it. I know selling your boat is bitter sweet – but I know you have lots of crazy adventures ahead of you.

  6. I love the captions on the pictures, especially the one about free beer. Dentists that hand out cake rather than admonishing you not to eat sugar. I’m sold.

    I really want a van now and to go camping in the southwest and across the border. Don’t tell Tickety Boo I said that.

    • Duwan said:

      I won’t tell Tickety Boo, we already have one sailboat disappointed in us, don’t need another teed off at us.

      I wish I had taken a picture of the first cake – it was so good. I’m not sure they realize I am going to expect cake every time we go back.

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