It is estimated that more than 2.2 million Americans seek medical treatment abroad every year, and many make their way to Latin America for their dental care. In this article, we use our on the ground experience to lay out the 5 best dental tourism destinations in Latin America. We strive to be as objective as possible based on location, price, quality, experience, and accessibility.
Read on to see which dental tourism destinations made the list and why!
1. San José, Costa Rica (22.5/25)
Costa Rica is famous for its majestic natural beauty, but it is also home to a highly educated and entrepreneurial society that thrives on tourism. In fact, Costa Rica hosts over 3 million foreign visitors every year, with about half coming from the United States and Canada.
San José tops this list due to the city’s attractions and accessibility as well as the price and quality of the dental care available.
Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) hosts regular direct flights from 15 airports in the United States and 2 in Canada. Once visitors are on the ground, clinics like OG Center offer free airport pick up and drop off.
For travelers seeking to make the trip into the city on their own, exiting the airport can be a bit chaotic as cab drivers are eager to charge a high price for a ride into the city. We strongly recommend ride sharing apps like Uber for those looking for the most competitive rates.
Prices at clinics in San Jose are very competitive in the international medical tourism market. For those looking for a great value, San Jose should be at the top of your list.
San José offers inexpensive round trip airfare and dental work. However, food and lodging are more expensive than 84% cities in Latin America according to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index.
Dentists in Costa Rica face stiff competition for international patients, so the top providers have invested heavily in ensuring a great patient experience. In San Jose, clinics provide in office massages, IV vitamin drips, and more. Moreover, treatment times are as short as possible, with clinics investing heavily in in-house dental labs.
In addition to being a great destination for dental tourism, San Jose is a springboard for sightseeing and tours. Just outside the city there are plenty of rain forests, beaches, volcanoes to explore. Within the city, San Jose boasts excellent museums and sights including the Gold Museum and Costa Rica’s National Museum.
San Jose hosts millions of largely English-speaking international visitors every year, and has a hospitality industry well suited to English speaking travelers. Visitors will not face as many language barriers in San Jose as in other Spanish speaking countries.
Dental Clinics in San José, Costa Rica
5/5 – 180 Reviews
OG Center is focused on customer service, with cutting-edge technology and a commitment to the environment.
2. Tijuana, Mexico (22/25)
Just across the border from San Diego, Tijuana is home to the busiest land border crossing in the world. Tijuana is within easy driving distance of Los Angeles and San Diego, and Americans flying in to the San Diego International Airport (SAN) can take public transportation to the border.
In terms of a convenient, accessible dental tourism destination for Americans, Tijuana cannot be beat.
The cost to get to Tijuana is very low since travelers from the Southwest United States can drive. Those further out can fly into San Diego and take public transportation to the Mexican border.
Dental care in Tijuana is relatively more expensive than other locations on this list, but patients can still expect to save 50-70% off of prices in the United States. According to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index, Tijuana is more expensive than 78% of cities in Latin America.
Tijuana is home to some outstanding dentists, and competition for foreign patients is very high. Dentists in Tijuana have invested in the training and equipment to service patients from the United States in a timely and effective manner. In-house dental labs keep visits short and sweet for procedures like dental implants.
Tijuana is famous for its cuisine, and foodies will absolutely fall in love with the city. The city also has popular attractions like the Tijuana Cultural Center (the sphere pictured above) and the famous Avenida de la Revolucion “La Revu.” There are also many things to do on both sides of the border for visitors who choose to stay in San Diego LIKE SEEING THE FLEET!
Tijuana has a reputation for violence that deters some travelers. According to the US State Department, this violence is concentrated within criminal elements on the outskirts of the city, not within tourist areas with heavy police presence. Accordingly, the US State department simply advises visitors to exercise increased caution.
Tijuana is accessible for English speaking patients. Its proximity to the border ensures that hospitality staff and clinics cater to English speaking visitors, and clinics provide shuttle services to make transportation a breeze.
Dental Clinics in Tijuana, Mexico
Dental Brush Tijuana
4.34/5 – 58 Reviews
Experience the same quality of care in Mexico for a fraction of the price of what you would pay in the U.S. The difference in price often allows patients to afford better materials and dental care brands than they would back home.
5/5 – 22 Reviews
Evidentall combines the most innovative techniques in gum treatment, implants, and dental aesthetics with extraordinary attention to patients to bring permanent solutions to various oral problems.
Nakeji Dental Group
4.86/5 – 160 Reviews
Nakeji is a 100% Mexican, family-owned company with more than 35 years of experience in the dental field, always at the forefront in materials, equipment and training.
3. Los Algodones, Mexico (20.5/25)
Affectionately known as “Molar City” Los Algodones is a mecca for Dental Tourism that attracts thousands of patients from the United States and Canada every day. Molar City is home to the highest concentration of dentists in the world, with some 400 dentists practicing within a small town of about 5,500 people.
Los Algodones is located within sight of the United States, just across the border from Andrade, California and Yuma, Arizona. Los Algodones is within a 4 hour drive of San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson.
While prices in Los Algodones are extremely competitive with those in the United States, they are relatively expensive compared to other destinations on this list. Local accommodations and food are relatively expensive as well, with prices ranging between $45-$60 USD per night for lodging. However, some clinics offer free and reduced rate stays for patients.
The dental tourism industry in Los Algodones is absolutely cut throat. There are more than 400 dentists competing for patients from the US and Canada. With so many clinics crowded into a small area, dentists must provide quality services or their reputations will suffer and they’ll quickly go under. Warranties are a common feature offered by clinics in Los Algodones, and ensure that dental work is completed to the patient’s satisfaction.
While there are some tourist attractions around Los Algodones like the other-worldly Algodones Dunes, the touristic and dining options are limited by the size of the town. There are local vendors making handmade products for visitors, but most travelers consider a trip to Los Algodones as limited to taking care of their health.
A major positive aspect of Los Algodones is its accessibility for non-Spanish speakers, people with disabilities, and Americans without passports. The US land border with Mexico can be crossed with a variety of documents including enhanced drivers licenses or a regular driver’s license and a birth certificate.
This incredible accessibility is a primary contributor to Los Algodones’ draw.
Dental Clinics in Los Algodones, Mexico
Sani Dental Group Alamo Clinic
4.05/5 – 189 Reviews
For most people, Sani Dental Group “Alamo”, the main dental center in Los Algodones, is the perfect fit. A large dental clinic with more than 35 dentists and an on-site dental lab makes it clear why Sani Dental Group is the Best Value in Dental Care.
Sani Dental Group Platinum
4.02/5 – 67 Reviews
For those who want a little more personal and attentive care in an upscale, cutting edge environment. Patients find that Sani Dental Group’s Platinum Clinic offers the perfect blend of luxury and affordability.
4. Medellin, Colombia (20.5/25)
The city of eternal spring is home to some of the busiest dentists and plastic surgeons around. After South Korea, Colombia performs the most cosmetic procedures per capita in the world. Medellin is at the center of this culture of beauty and aesthetics and brings in thousands of dental tourist every year.
Medellin is accessible through (MDE) with direct flights from 4 airports in the United States, and connecting flights through Bogota. MDE is located about 30 minutes from Medellin in Rio Negro, and savvy travelers use the white public transportation buses that go to San Diego in downtown Medellin at a cost of 13,000 COP ($3.60 USD) per person.
The distance and small number of airports offering direct flights are a hit for Medellin that it compensates for through price, quality, and experience.
Medellin offers some of the most competitive pricing on dental procedures in Latin America, and combined with the quality of the providers travelers get a great deal of value for their money.
According to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index, Medellin is cheaper than 89% of cities in Latin America and 92% of cities in the world. Visitors use these savings to enjoy fine dining and experiences in the city and the surrounding area.
Competition is fierce in Medellin, and English speaking dentists work hard to attract international patients in Colombia’s dental tourism hub. This leads to a race for top end equipment and facilities, and ensures that Dentists are on top of their continuing education. Medellin is particularly famous for cosmetic dentistry procedures like veneers.
Medellin is one of Colombia’s cultural hubs and there is truly something for everyone in the city. For those who enjoy museums and urban exploring, Medellin has it in spades. Foodies will have a field day with Medellin’s rich cuisine. For those looking to venture further out, there are plenty of adventurous day trips available in the surrounding area.
Medellin hosts thousands of foreign visitors every year, but English is not widely spoken outside of the medical and hospitality sectors. Some English-speaking visitors can find this limiting.
Dental Clinics in Medellin, Colombia
Alta Estetica Dental
5/5 – 5 Reviews
Alta Estética Dental combines technology and a highly qualified team to provide comprehensive care to their patients.
5/5 – 9 Reviews
Liv brings together a group of health specialists to provide comprehensive rejuvenative medicine.
5. Cartagena, Colombia (20/25)
Cartagena is the jewel of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Founded in 1533, Cartagena is a magical walled city with a fascinating history. Visitors are drawn in by the pristine beaches of the Rosario Islands off the coast, the Colonial flair of the old city, and the famous nightlife. However, travelers also come for Cartagena’s excellent dentists.
The Rafael Nunez International Airport in Cartagena offers direct flights from 5 airports in the United States and 2 in Canada. The airport is located just a few minutes from the popular neighborhoods of el Centro and Bocagrande.
Travelers to Cartagena should consider using ride sharing applications like InDriver to get around since taxis do not offer metered rates.
Dentists in Cartagena offer competitive prices for their work. However, Cartagena is a relatively expensive city in Colombia and prices for lodging are higher than for other parts of the country.
Dentists in Cartagena offer high quality services, but dental labs are not able to provide the short turn around times offered at other destinations on this list. As the dental tourism industry in Cartagena matures, this problem will surely be addressed by more clinics.
Cartagena relies on the tourism sector, and offers a wide variety of experiences for visitors. The city is home to fascinating museums, iconic architecture, and a great deal of activities close at hand. Visitors often find themselves coming back again and again.
English is widely spoken in the tourist sector in the north of the city, and most travelers have a fairly easy time getting around Cartagena.
Dental Clinics in Cartagena, Colombia
Centro de Implantes de la Costa
5/5 – 6 Reviews
Centro de Implantes de la Costa is a dental clinic in Cartagena, Colombia that offers highly specialized treatments such as orthodontics, oral surgery, smile design, oral rehabilitation, aesthetic dentistry, pediatric dentistry and dental implants.
5/5 – 4 Reviews
Improve your smile in one of the top destinations in the Caribbean. Located beachfront in the most exclusive part of the wonderful Cartagena, Colombia.
For those looking to save 50-70% on your dental care, these 5 dental tourism destinations are a great starting point for your research! If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment below!
How did we do? Do you think our rankings do these destinations justice? Let us know in the comments below.