I recently got back from a trip to Los Algodones (AKA Molar City), Mexico and I wanted to share 5 important tips for those of you planning a visit to the dentist in the coming weeks!
1. Be Aware of Changes at the Border!
To get to Los Algodones, you have to go through the Andrade Port of Entry. The border is typically open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm, but the US and Mexico closed the border to nonessential travel and the hours have been shortened to between 6:00 am and 2:00 pm. Medical care is deemed essential travel.
Crossing the border in a vehicle has become more time consuming, with some days requiring an hour and a half to cross back into the United States. Walking times vary, but when I crossed back into the United States on foot it only took me 5 minutes.
What to do about it:
- If you are getting a treatment over the course of several days, stay on the Mexican side of the border to avoid the hassle of crossing every day. Rooms at the Hacienda Los Algodones start at $60 a night, with patients at the Sani Dental Group receiving a $15 a night discount or a free night for patients spending $1,000+. Rooms at the California Comfort Inn & Suites start at $43 for a standard room and patients at Loval Dental can get a free night if they spend $1,500 or more on treatment.
- If you are coming down for a day trip, consider parking on the US side of the border and walking across. Parking is less than $10/ day and will save you the hassle of the line to re-enter the US. All of the clinics are within a few blocks of the border. Walking through the Customs and Border Patrol re-entry point is significantly faster than the vehicle entry, and the line forms under a covered walkway to protect you from the sun.
2. Wear a Mask
Regardless of your feelings about masks, they are mandatory in Los Algodones and while going through the line at the Andrade Port of Entry to return to the US. Both Mexican and American authorities threaten hefty fines. Virtually every dental clinic in Los Algodones requires a mask to be worn by patients except while they are undergoing treatment.
3. Be Aware of Current Restrictions
In addition to mask laws, there is a curfew in effect in Los Algodones that starts at 6:00 pm. This means that many local restaurants close between 4:00 – 5:00 pm in order to give their employees time to get home before curfew. You will want to stock up on food at the Liquis if you are staying on the Mexican side of the border. They accept US Dollars and take credit cards at a 4% fee.
What to do about it:
- Stock up on snacks at Liquis (the giant purple supermarket) and eat a late lunch or early dinner before Los Algodones becomes a ghost town in the early evening.
4. Recognize the Risks
Los Algodones has been taking proactive measures to stem the Coronavirus pandemic, but the number of cases per capita on both sides of the US-MX border is high. San Diego County, Imperial County, and Yuma County in the US have large outbreaks and every precaution should be taken while you travel. Los Algodones is a beautiful town with many great sites to visit, but right now it is better to treat a trip there as strictly business.
What to do about it:
- Exercise every precaution laid out by the CDC in your journey to and from Mexico.
- Avoid close contact with people throughout your trip, maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet.
- Wash your hands often. Having a bottle of hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol is a convenient way to stay safe while traveling.
- Wear a mask. Not to beat a dead horse, but this is one of the most effective tools we have.
- Get in, get out, and get on with your life. Los Algodones is a beautiful Mexican town nestled along the US Border, but right now it is better to enjoy the financial savings and get back home.
5. Follow your Dentist's Instructions!
The clinics in Los Algodones have invested heavily in ensuring your safety. When you get to your clinic you will be greeted at the door to go through a decontamination protocol. Disinfectant mats are in place to sanitize your shoes and you will be asked to use hand sanitizer. These measures are designed to keep you, the staff, and your fellow patients safe. Please cooperate through these procedures!
Moreover, upon entry all patients will have their temperature and blood oxygen levels checked, fill out a questionnaire regarding their health, and be asked to wear a mask and follow social distancing protocols while not undergoing treatment. Companions are discouraged to reduce the number of people in the clinic.
The Clinic staff will be in full battle rattle- with KN95 masks, Acrylic Face Masks, protective gowns, and gloves for your protection. The clinics also have rigorous cleaning protocols in place to ensure surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.
The dentists and clinics take safety very seriously and you should too!
Your health and well-being have never been more important, and the need for high quality, affordable dental care has never been higher. If you keep these tips in mind, you will be able to enjoy a stress free trip to Molar City and enjoy savings of 40-75% on your dental work.