Reporter Maggie Vespa from KGUN9 News in Tucson recently filed a report about dental tourism in Nogales, Mexico. The story included an interview with Nogales dentist Dr. Alberto Quiroga and three of his patients, who were all very satisfied with the dental work they had received in Nogales.

Unfortunately it also included some scare tactics, including urban legends from unsubstantiated sources and disinformation provided by a Tucson dentist who ultimately admitted that he cannot compete with the prices of Mexican dentists and that “many Nogales dentists are qualified and trustworthy.”

The story begins as Vespa is standing in Plaza Pesquiera, a popular Nogales, Mexico dental and pharmacy destination (see a map of Nogales dentistry zones). She announced that she would enter a dentist office and try to find American patients, which she did.

She also found Dr. Alberto Quiroga, who exemplifies the modern dental professionals in Nogales with his modern, comfortable office that uses modern dental materials and techniques.

In his office were three Nogales, Mexico dental patients who had come to the border from the Tucson area, each of which had undergone a different dental procedure and had returned to Nogales for additional dental services. And they all were very satisfied with the dental work they had received in Nogales.

Next was an overview of pricing, where Vespa quotes a dental tourism source, as a graphic with the large numbers “40%” is being displayed, saying that on average Mexican dentists charge just over a third of what American dentists charge. This is largely accurate for Nogales dentists, depending on the dental treatment and facility where it is performed.

Unfortunately the story contained what appear to be some serious factual errors that were not confirmed by an independent source.

In an interview with Tucson dentist Manuel Badoya, he claimed that the risk of going to a Mexican dentist is “much higher,” but as the interview progressed it became apparent that the statement may have been based, at least in part, on the dentist’s incorrect impressions of modern Mexican dentistry.

Dr. Bedoya claimed that a lab technician who makes dental appliances can set up a sign and say that he is a dentist, which is not true. Or legal, even in Mexico. Be assured that the Nogales dentists that you will find on this website are degreed, qualified and experienced dental professionals.

He also said that the “authorities and regulatory agencies do not enforce that in Mexico,” which is also not true. Qualified dentists must be in good standing with the Mexican Dental Association (MDA), which like its American counterpart, the ADA, ensures that professional standards are upheld by practitioners.

However, after making those statements he added that “many dentists in Mexico are qualified and trustworthy.” He continued, “they’ve got the dexterity, they’ve got the experience… so find someone that is reputable.”

And from there the story made a turn into the skeezy journalistic territory of unattributed sources that were likely telling tall tales.

As the story continues, Vespa proceeded to cite unsubstantiated stories (urban legends?), allegedly told by Tucson dentists. She claimed that “other dentists” have told “them” (meaning KGUN9 News?) that patients have returned from Mexico with “all of their teeth pulled,” and that a patient with “advanced oral cancer” after a “dentist in Mexico” told him repeatedly that it could be treated with mouthwash. Really?

She not only neglected to mention the names of the “dentists” who told “them” the stories, but she also failed to interview or even contact the alleged victims to corroborate their stories. Hmmmm.

To add my own anecdotal two cents to the claim about the Mexican dentist who apparently did not properly diagnose oral cancer, I have actually heard the opposite from different people who told me that their Mexican dentist discovered their oral cancer that had not been diagnosed by their doctor north of the border.

And on a personal note, a good friend of mine in Tempe died from oral cancer that had not been diagnosed by his Phoenix-area dentist, who instead gave him pain killers and antibiotics to treat the problem. By the time he went to another dentist for a second opinion it was too late – the cancer had advanced too far to be treated.

So the bottom line is, modern dentists use the same techniques and follow the same standards on both sides of the border. Are there bad dentists out there? Certainly. On both sides of the border.

That is why it is important that you first do your homework when selecting a dentist for you and your family. And that’s why we are here – to present information to you regarding dentistry and dental professionals in Nogales, Sonora, to give you a chance to ask questions and make a choice regarding the best dentist for your needs. We also want to help you to resolve complaints and provide information to help make your visit to Nogales a more pleasant one.

And if you are still considering a dental appointment in Nogales, remember the words of the Tucson woman who was interviewed in this story: “I just tell people, do it! Go and see for yourself – it’s just wonderful.”