Got My Smile Back in Los Algodones

Leave it to a crisis to get us to take action!  That’s what happened when my husband, Tom, chipped a front tooth.  He spent $1100 several years ago for a wire partial he hates to insert, but at least it covered an empty space where a front tooth once was.  And now with this chipped front tooth, it was time to consider our options.  Los Algodones, Mexico grabbed our attention.

The first thing we did was pray for discernment.  Then we began a search online.  RV Forums and bloggers are extremely helpful.  As we read about others' experiences with dentists, we gained confidence.  We talked to people in our church that have their dental work done in Mexico and weighed the facts.  Yes, we decided to go to Los Algodones.  Our passport cards took four weeks to process.  During this wait, we pursued a list of dentists we found with the best reviews.  We sent out emails with Tom’s most current X-rays attached and soon dental bids followed back to us. 

We chose Dr. Roberto Arce (pronounced RC), from The Smile Shoppe. We wanted reputable, honest care with a lot of one on one encouragement. Dr. Arce answered our emails promptly and with courtesy.

Los Algodones is a colorful town in Mexico that sits on the border south of Yuma, AZ.  This small town offers professional eye care, hearing aids and over 400 dentists!  I am ever grateful for the bloggers who wrote about their experiences there so that we could become educated.     The worst scenario is finding a dentist on a whim because once entering Mexico, brokers on the street try to persuade you to use their facilities promising savings.  Research is the cautious way to go.

We parked our car in a gated secure lot for six dollars/day and walked into Mexico.  We waited for Dr. Acre’s assistant, Irene, to pick us up here.  She’s delightful and extremely hospitable. 


Dr. Acre advised Tom of the best options telling him step by step in very good English just what he can do.  Tom needed extensive dental work: X-rays, four metal porcelain crowns, three bridges, a flexible partial, an extraction, 2 tooth buildups and a bone graft.  We had all this done in three days except for the flexible partial which we will have to complete later this week when Tom’s gums heal for accurate measurements.

Photo of Dr. Roberto Arce, courtesy of

Tom looks nervous as we wait in the lobby not knowing what's going to happen to him!

Tom spent 3-1/2 hours behind the drill.  We had the next day to ourselves to relax before returning for the extraction and finished bridges from the labs.  His smile returned and although his upper lip was swollen, he let me snap his photo.

Some things I learned about Los Algodones:

  •  We easily crossed the border because we traveled in May. 
  •  Busiest months are January and February when its cooler and the lines can be very long with snowbirds from the US and Canada! 
  • The town is a four-block radius packed with businesses and over 400 dentists with impressive credentials!
  • The popular landmark, The Purple Pharmacy, is large and very accommodating.  We got our prescription for pain and antibiotic filled here for about $20!
  •  Several eye clinics offer professional services for good prices.  Tom got an exam and new bifocals for $130.  He chose eyeglasses with Italian frames otherwise it would have been less.
  • Street vendors make their living by harassing.  Tom has a different viewpoint being a retired salesman.  He enjoyed conversing with them and I literally pulled him away from almost purchasing a hideous concho belt.  I wasn’t successful with the garden ornament.  We are now sporting an Iguana on the back deck to greet you as you enter.  Every married person knows it’s all about compromise!

I noticed this banner atop a hearing clinic. They may not be the best spellers, but their hearts are in the right place!  I hope their establishment is blessed!

We are very grateful for our family and friends who prayed for our trip and we feel we made wise decisions.  My girlfriend, Cindy, and I guessed that if Tom had all this dental work done in Arizona, it would cost him well over $10,000.  We paid $3,500.  Tom got his smile back in Los Algodones and that makes me smile too!

I'm linking this post to Hazel's storytellers at Tell Me a True Story.


  1. A trip well worth it that's for sure

  2. What a wonderful story Mary! Tom looks just great!! The dentist also looks like such a nice guy. I think you were brave to do it, and obviously it was exactly the right thing!

  3. I am glad you did the research, and I know you saved a bundle in money and stress. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” At:

  4. My brother and his wife minister often in Mexico, and he got new dentures for a bargain price in Mexico.

  5. I'm impressed. I am not able to deal with dental issues except when there ain't no choice for ME, but can't watch or help for others. Know so many who do it around and about the world, and appreciate them. I can do SOMEthings...around and about... but not TOOTHthings.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. What an adventure and Testimony. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Very nice story! You know what I and your husband have the same feeling when we are in the dental clinic; waiting for your turn is a very nervous thing. I am not nervous because of the dentist that will do the treatment it’s the pain that I am worrying about. I trust my dentist a lot that connect me. It’s really the pain hahahaha I am so being coward. Anyway my dental check up is a success!

  8. This is great information to know, thanks. I know my brother in law goes somewhere in Mexico for dentist work and has been very happy with the work. Glad hubby has his smile back.

  9. So happy to read one of your posts again, and, as always, it made me smile. :) How encouraging that, in your patience, "all things worked together for good."

    I am blogging again. Please be patient as I continue to work on the graphics.

  10. Ouch! That's a painful thing for your husband to endure. I guess what this reminds us is that chipped tooth isn't a petty matter. It affects one's facial symmetry and can even mess with the structure of the teeth. However, it isn't vestigial in the least, plus it can't be easily replaced. Good thing you found a good dentist and still managed to enjoy your trip. Take care!

    Dr. Stephen T. E. Malfair @ Choose Your Smile

  11. Wow! What an interesting story. I told my husband about this, and he's been to Los Algodones! Said it was a fun place.

    Glad to hear that your travels were successful. And that Tom is smiling again...(so is his wallet?!)


  12. Oh, my friend, if you only knew how much I enjoyed this blog post! Seeing the pictures taken in Mexico brought back so many memories of sweet times spent with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Mexico.

    I had to chuckle at your husband's point of view about the street vendors. :) Our daughter became quite the "haggler" when she lived in Mexico City. They are actually offended if you don't. However, when they went into the mountains to visit (where the need was great) they were willing to always pay the asking price.

    I'm so glad that things worked out well for you and your husband!

    Both times I went in to the country I flew (and it was before passports were required), but I've heard some really bad stories from our kids when they would go to the Border to have their visas renewed. So walking parking in a gated lot on the US side and walking in was a very good thing to do!

  13. Based on your recommendations and the positive remarks on Trip Advisors, I selected Dr. Roberto Arce of Smile Shoppe in Los Algodones, Mexico to repair my bridge. Here’s my experience:

    Just want to add my experience with Dr Roberto Arce of Los Algodones . I went in yesterday because I felt I need my bridges replaced. Dr. Roberto reassured me that I do not need to have any of my crowns replaced; but he had to build 2 of my core buildups; which he charged $150.00 U.S. each = $300.00 and cementing my bridge back in place which is $100.00 U.S. and $10.00 per x-ray for each tooth. The total cost was $420.00. His prices were much higher than what I was quoted by a dentist in Phoenix. I had a quote of $110.00@ for building up the cores and $80.00 for cementing back the bridge. To add insult to injury, he charged me $20.00 for a 500 ML bottle of Perioxidin which the Purple Pharmacy at Los Algodones sells for $17.00. Dr. Roberto Acre gouged me because the summer season is slow and he had to make up the difference for lack of patients. I would double check your price before attempting to use Dr. Roberto Acre. As far as his work is concerned, only time will time. Beware of PRICE GOUGING….I was stuck in his chair and felt I had to have the work done!

  14. We are happy to hear most of our patients are extremely satisfied with our work yet we respect any other opinions. Mrs. NINA, just to inform you that our prices do not change over the summer.... Prices during the high or low season are the same since we are one of the few offices open year round. Now, we did not force you into having any dental work done, you came in our office with a bridge in hand and we were able to do the build ups and recement it. We always give our patients the estimate while in the chair before starting any work. If it was for the money we would have done all the dental work they said you needed in Phoenix but honestly you did not require any other work than the repair you came in for. If you have any other comments or questions regarding your visit to our office please let us know.

    Smile Shoppe Dental

  15. In a procedure like that, it’s really wise to do a bit of research first. Not only it will educate you about the procedure, but also give you a chance to find one of the finest and most reliable dentist around the area. I’m glad that you found yours. And with the look of Tom’s smile, there was no doubt that his 3 and half hours was well spent.

    Bettye Primm @ Back Mountain Dental

  16. I am the author of the blog As you used the pic of
    Dr. ARCE in your page I assume you learned of him from my experience. I hope you told him so! I've recommended him to many people since my visit. I'm so glad you had such a positive experience too!

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