Author Topic: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?  (Read 4605 times)

AgentCooper

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Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« on: November 09, 2015, 02:54:00 PM »
As described in my reader case study, a major hurdle for us will be some restorative dental work.  There is an old, not-well-done, aging, removable piece of bridge work which needs to be replaced.  We've gotten two dentists' opinions on it, both say go with implants.  Quotes are $12,000 and $10,000, and by phone another one quoted $8,000 but said they'd have to send her to a specialist for another bit of work so I'm guessing that the $8,000 would turn into $10,000 pretty quickly. 

An hour's drive from home, there is a big dental college.  They take on whatever cases they choose, and let college students operate on you for training purposes, while being supervised.  They would charge us a little something - don't know how much yet, but surely we'd pay for our own materials.  By phone they said the savings would be very significant. 

So:  Am I nuts to consider that a valid option?  I've heard of going to barber school for free or reduced-price haircuts, but would you let a novice/inexperienced dentist-in-training put screws in your jaw? 

Update:  Anyone traveled to another country for major dental?  I just read a little more on the implant link below, and it turns out to be a website that lists implant prices at $795 each vs $2250 in the US.  We both speak fluent Spanish and of course I'd be wary of any sketchy- or dirty-looking facilities, but hey, a trip to Mexico - or even multiple trips - might come out way less expensive than the $12,000 quote.

Update 11/12/15:  Hmm, the $795 each was a misleading way to state the price.  That covers only the implant, not the other 2 pieces of hardware that each and every implant requires in order to be a complete job.  Actual per-tooth cost at that place is $1400.  So I got a few prices...they are, for all 7 teeth, in order of price:
$3,000 per tooth from our local dentist ($21,000)
$2,250 per tooth at dental college ($15,750)
$1,500 per tooth at third Mexican dentist I checked ($10,500)
$1,500 per tooth at second Mexican dentist I checked ($10,500)
$1,400 per tooth at first Mexican dentist I checked in (gasp) Tijuana ($9,800)
So...yeah.  Brush your teeth, kiddos.

For anyone contemplating an implant, be aware they have to quote at least 3 different services to quote an actual implant, e.g., the implant itself, plus the mandatory crown, plus some mandatory connection between the crown and the implant.  Prices above are "per tooth" aka "per site" and include all 3 sales items.



This is what an implant is:  http://www.samdental.org/treatment-list/dental-implants/

My case study in progress:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/reader-case-study-move-large-family-to-city-to-save-on-commuting/msg861597/#msg861597
« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 11:22:48 AM by AgentCooper »

zhelud

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2015, 08:10:22 AM »
Back when we didn't have much money or dental insurance, my husband went to a dental school for quite a bit of work. (He had to have a ton of fillings redone, after poor-quality dental work from a childhood and youth in country with lousy dentists and no fluoride.)  The quality was excellent.  After each step of each procedure, the student (he went to the same student every week for his "lab") would have his work checked by the instructor. This meant, though, that something that would normally be completed in 45 minutes would take 3 hours. That was the only drawback.  I think he had to pay a nominal fee for materials.

Bob W

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2015, 08:15:58 AM »
What a great idea!

Dulcimina

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2015, 08:57:30 AM »
I did this for braces.  It was about 20 years ago, so I don't remember the details.  I think the people who were treating me had already finished dental school but were continuing training to specialize in orthodontia.  It took a few years, and the trainees changed each year as they finished up. As zhelud said, all the work was reviewed at each visit.

AgentCooper

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2015, 11:26:36 AM »
Added another question to title and original post:  How about international travel to get it done for less?

SailorGirl

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2015, 11:33:56 AM »
Partner recently went to the local dental school for work.  Simple stuff is done by dental students, more complicated stuff by graduate level/specializing students with lots of supervision.  Appointments took freakin' forever to get and the procedures were time consuming but the work was amazing.  Plus the instructors took over if things got difficult.

MandalayVA

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2015, 01:39:48 PM »
Back in the day my teeth were a mess--sixteen years of avoiding the dentist tends to make that happen--and I was poor.  However, the University of Kentucky's dental college came to the rescue.  I was knocked out for a lot of the work (dental phobia) but it's held up.  Now Mr. Mandalay and I go to the VCU School of Dentistry because the work is great, it takes our insurance and it's a quarter of the cost of a regular dentist.

opah

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2015, 01:55:19 PM »
I had all of my dental work done at the UCLA school of dentistry while I was in grad school, and it was fantastic! As others have said, the work is constantly being checked by instructors, and the work was superb. I find a lot of actual dentists are rushed and harried and they've been out of school for a long time. I actually trusted the students a lot - they want to do good work, and they take their time. The downside is the amount of time you will spend in the chair for a procedure. There is a significant discount, and they took my dental insurance.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 01:57:26 PM »
The first question:  Do you or the patient work full time?  Do you have a flexible schedule?  The reason I ask, is that any of what you are considering, at a minimum, will involve a lot of vacation days.  If you are retired, this is not an issue.  Implants are not the same as filling cavities...

I had a lot of work done about six years ago.  I considered tourism, but declined due to the amount of vacation time involved and the cost of travel.  Also, how can one get a valid review of a foreign dentist and what happens if something fails six months later.
Being that I work full time and have a limited amount of vacation time, I decided to pay more and do the work locally with a rock star surgeon.  I am glad I did.  Anyone who sees my implants (xray or otherwise) is marveled by them.

boarder42

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2015, 02:03:43 PM »
wow this is awesome.  i live in KC so UMKC dental school is right down the street.  My dad is a retired dentist.  But orthodontics arent typically covered by insurance.  Seems to be a good cheap place to get quality work done. 

partgypsy

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2015, 02:17:24 PM »
Partner recently went to the local dental school for work.  Simple stuff is done by dental students, more complicated stuff by graduate level/specializing students with lots of supervision.  Appointments took freakin' forever to get and the procedures were time consuming but the work was amazing.  Plus the instructors took over if things got difficult.

This was my experience. Had my wisdom teeth taken out, and for the one that was difficult the head instructor took over. So great care, price 1/3? 1/4? the price of private, but had to wait. My friend had complicated dental issues that she also did through the dental school and she had great care and otherwise doing it would have been a fortune.
For our local dental college the waitlist is so long they are now not accepting any adult patients. : ( So if that is an option for you I would definitely consider it. 
Regarding travel, the dental implant is a multi-step process, you can't do it in one go, and that's if everything goes to plan. So figure in extra travel/time costs and also what you will do if something doesn't go to plan, what is and isn't covered. 
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 02:24:09 PM by partgypsy »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2015, 02:26:05 PM »
With the population they serve they might have cancellations if you can show up on short notice. My brother-in-law is an orthodontist and had lots of people not show up for very involved work when he was training.

MsPeacock

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2015, 04:59:07 PM »
I had my wisdom teeth removed at the University of Michigan dental school about 20 years ago. I had no money and no dental insurance and it was much cheaper. Everything went fine, I had no problems, the procedure was done by an instructor with students assisting.

Melf

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2015, 06:55:59 PM »
I'm just beginning a full mouth restoration project at the UNC Dental School.  As others have said, these are actual dental grad students that are there to complete degrees in specialties.  The dental students will do the basic stuff like x-rays, cleaning, etc.  The grad students handle all of the actual dental work with guidance and assistance from department heads/instructors when needed.

As far as cost, I was told that the savings over a regular practicing dentist is around 30%.  Not crazy cheap but still a good savings.  I've committed to spending between 18K and 20K over the next 4 to 8 months for the treatment program that me and my dentist at UNC have agreed upon.  It hurts to commit to this huge sum of money considering that I'm on the verge of quitting work within the next year.  The work needs to be done at some point though and I didn't know if I'd get another opportunity for a discount like this.

Left

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2015, 07:02:28 PM »
I would but my teeth are too good for them to want :(

you could do same at hair cut places and chiropractor school

MoonShadow

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2015, 07:03:19 PM »
  Anyone traveled to another country for major dental?

I've never done it, mostly because I live too far from a border for this to be sensible.  But I do know that a large number of dentists in Mexico are accredited members of the American Dental Association.

Samala

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2015, 01:02:21 PM »
I'd also be wary of the need for multiple visits.  I've had one implant placed for a single tooth and it was a long multi-step process.  I'm not sure if this is the case for everyone (dentist told me usually takes 12-18 months to complete the process).  I've seen advertisements for implants that can be done in one day, but not sure how that works. 

Timeline in my experience:

Month 1 - Initial visit and evaluation
Month 1 - Tooth pulled and bone graft performed
Month 4 - Check up on healing process of the extraction site and bone graft (done during regular cleaning)
Month 7 - Cone CT scan and implant guide created
Month 8 - Implant placed
Month 11 - Check up on healing process of implant (done during regular cleaning)
Month 14 - Abutment and crown finally placed on implant (crown created onsite with Cerec)

As for costs at my regular dentist, not a college, and with many procedures discounted by paying in full or in cash.. whew.. including antibiotics, painkillers, all the visits, and materials... $4,252.47 out of my pocket and insurance covered $1,710.30.  Total of $5,962.77.  For one tooth!

Going thru the process I really debated whether the cost was worth it, but I've had the final result now for six months and I absolutely would make the decision again to do it.  Just hope I never have to.

Incidentally, this is why I'm constantly on my nephews to brush their teeth.  ;)

Samala

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2015, 08:43:17 PM »
Update 11/12/15:  So I got a few prices...they are, for all 7 teeth, in order of price:
$3,000 per tooth from our local dentist ($21,000)
$2,250 per tooth at dental college ($15,750)
$1,500 per tooth at third Mexican dentist I checked ($10,500)
$1,500 per tooth at second Mexican dentist I checked ($10,500)
$1,400 per tooth at first Mexican dentist I checked in (gasp) Tijuana ($9,800)
So...yeah.  Brush your teeth, kiddos.

For anyone contemplating an implant, be aware they have to quote at least 3 different services to quote an actual implant, e.g., the implant itself, plus the mandatory crown, plus some mandatory connection between the crown and the implant.  Prices above are "per tooth" aka "per site" and include all 3 sales items.


Glad you updated this, the new numbers are illuminating, but do those prices include the actual procedures needed (xrays, CT scan, extractions, etc) or just the cost of the materials for the implant + crown + abutment (the connector)?  In my case those three pieces of hardware totaled $3,407 or 57% of the total cost.

I have no doubt the prices are lower than what I paid, just encouraging you to double check that these quotes cover all (or as much as possible) costs so that you can make a good decision.

Incidentally I went to my regular cleaning today and chatted with my dentist and the front office ladies.  Now.. it's in their interest to divert people to dentists, not colleges and not to Mexico/medical tourism but.. they did say they would be worried about the quality of materials used outside of the US and the long term success of the placed implants if multiple implants are done in one visit.  No one could remember any current patients that had work done in Mexico but they echoed that results at a dental college are likely to be excellent due to the supervision and oversight.

Either way, I really empathize and hope you find a solution that works for you.  I wonder if its possible to get only a few implants and have them support a bridge?

mikefixac

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2015, 11:51:57 PM »
My buddy lives in San Diego and has had 3 root canals and crowns in TJ, MX.

Based on his experience, I went and had a root canal, done first day on a walk in basis, and (I think) 4 days later they put in the crown.

All the dentists there went to dental school in MX. When I walked in, the dentists are standing there waiting their turn for next patient. No appt, walk in basis.

The clinic was/is Washington Dental in Tijuana. Total cost was $750 for root canal and crown. I was very happy with their services. For me, I'd do it again. Just for the fact of no hassle, no dithering, and completely up front and professional.

libertarian4321

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2015, 12:16:19 AM »
I did this years ago for fillings and the like, nothing major.

Worked fine, but it was slow because everything had to be checked (and redone if done wrong).

AgentCooper

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2015, 11:00:34 AM »
Glad you updated this, the new numbers are illuminating, but do those prices include the actual procedures needed (xrays, CT scan, extractions, etc)...
chatted with my dentist...they did say they would be worried about the quality of materials used outside of the US and the long term success of the placed implants if multiple implants are done in one visit.  No one could remember any current patients that had work done in Mexico but they echoed that results at a dental college are likely to be excellent due to the supervision and oversight.
Either way, I really empathize and hope you find a solution that works for you.  I wonder if its possible to get only a few implants and have them support a bridge?

Thanks so much for the input.  You're right, this doesn't even touch the imaging costs or the exams/consults/"just to sit in the chair" visit costs.  We've also become concerned about how it could be possible to do several implants all in one day; it is probably a completely different piece of hardware.  Also her local dentist would make her crowns custom, whereas in Tijuana I assume they have a drawer full of them and you just get whatever is the closest match.  Unfortunately the dental situation won't allow another bridge in the area; it's either 7 implants all at once, or wait for the natural teeth supporting the bridge to erode and be lost as well.

act0fgod

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2015, 06:26:34 PM »
  Anyone traveled to another country for major dental?

I've never done it, mostly because I live too far from a border for this to be sensible.  But I do know that a large number of dentists in Mexico are accredited members of the American Dental Association.

As a dentist I'll echo the fact that a dental school is a good option for lower cost, quality care if you have lots of time.  Essentially you are going to have a number of very experienced instructors looking over everything to make sure things go well. 

Going to another country for care can be a good affordable option but the odds of substandard care is much higher.  If going to Mexico make sure you do your research, not sure I'd feel comfortable with the level of care at a place where the dentists stand in line and take the next patient that walks in.

The fact that a dentist is a member of the American Dental Association means they paid a fee, nothing more.

astvilla

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2015, 11:05:41 AM »
  Anyone traveled to another country for major dental?

I've never done it, mostly because I live too far from a border for this to be sensible.  But I do know that a large number of dentists in Mexico are accredited members of the American Dental Association.

As a dentist I'll echo the fact that a dental school is a good option for lower cost, quality care if you have lots of time.  Essentially you are going to have a number of very experienced instructors looking over everything to make sure things go well. 

Going to another country for care can be a good affordable option but the odds of substandard care is much higher.  If going to Mexico make sure you do your research, not sure I'd feel comfortable with the level of care at a place where the dentists stand in line and take the next patient that walks in.

The fact that a dentist is a member of the American Dental Association means they paid a fee, nothing more.

Not to get too far ahead of myself but I've heard dental students say that it's not a good idea to come to them for dental work as they're learning and can make mistakes.  It could be more self-confidence issues in their work as dental students but they said they wouldn't go to dental schools for dental work.

The patient population they get are more Medicaid, inner city folk who can't afford, so they offer their mouths as practice. 

It is pretty cheap though. Quality might vary depending on the dental school.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2015, 09:36:33 PM »
I went to a dental school for my wisdom teeth extraction. Had all four out for $400 with no long-term problems but my gums did bleed like crazy for a couple days. No idea if the extra blood was a direct effect of the inexperienced extractors, but in the end I'm glad I did it.

iamlindoro

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2015, 10:06:30 PM »
I just got back from Thailand where I started to process to get two implants done.  I had to get the teeth extracted first, as well as get everything else in my mouth taken care of (fillings, a root canal and crown, cleaning, X-rays, etc).  All dentists had undergrad training in Thailand, and graduate studies in the US or UK.  80% of the clinic's patients are expats, predominantly from Australia and New Zealand.  It was a really positive experience, in large part due to the extraordinary service and compassionate treatment.  I've never been treated so kindly by the dentist before.  I basically had a personal attendant with me at all times in the clinic, walking me from appointment to appointment, scheduling next steps, getting me drinks... it was pretty overwhelming.  Here's what I've had done so far and what I've paid:

4 X-rays -   $13.95
1 Root Canal - Molar -   $317.89
1 Root Canal - Core Build Up - $92.76
1 Deep Cleaning/Polish - $39.73
3 One Surface Fillings - $79.46
5 Two Surface Fillings - $211.85
Extraction w/ Soft Tissue Impaction - $92.59
Extraction - $66.14
Assorted Medications - $8.56
Dental Total:   $922.93

Here's what remains, and the prices:

Crown for Root Canal Tooth - $418.42
Two Implants - Full Procedure w/ Implant, Abutment, and Crown - $4,184.22

Next trip will be the crown on the root canal tooth and stage 1 of the implants.  About six months later, the abutment and crowns will be put in.
 Total cost including flights (from the US West Coast), hotels, entertainment, plus all the work, is looking like about $7500-7800.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 10:11:30 PM by iamlindoro »

meandmyfamily

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Re: Anyone used dental college for major dental? How about Mexico?
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2015, 10:44:45 PM »
My Dad has had a ton of dental work done in Nogales, Mexico and he swears they do a fabulous job for WAY less.  He also started getting glasses there too for a fraction of the cost.