Type to search

Issues & People Professional Issues

Dental Tourism: A Case Study in Los Algodones, Mexico with Dr. Krystyna Adams


Dr. Krystyna Adams is a member of the SFU Medical Tourism Research Group. She is a doctoral student whose PhD research will explore qualitative methods to examine the influences of the global trade in health services on health policy and planning at the national, regional, and global level. Dr. Adams’ case study research evaluated medical tourism in the small town of Los Algodones, Mexico, located along on the border of California.

In this Oasis conversation, Dr. John O’Keefe speaks with Dr. Adams about her study of dental tourism in this area; and the impact and implications of dental tourism for Canadians and Canadian dentists.


We want to hear from you! Leave a comment about this post in the box below, send your feedback by email or call us at 1-855-716-2747.

Until next time!

CDA Oasis Team

Read/download the transcript of the full conversation (PDF)



In this conversation, Dr. Adams speaks about her work including:

  • Her time spent in Los Algodones to study dental tourism and its impact on patients, the local population, and the local economy.
  • Treatments provided by approximately 500 dentists in Los Algodones and the competition and promotion of dental clinics in the area.
  • Key findings of the study including treatment practices, outcomes, and patients’ expectations.
  • Growth in dental tourism along the northern Mexico border and in the number of the Canadians and Americans accessing care.
  • Disparities in patient expectations of care and services and the actual services provided.
  • Concerns and issues regarding standards of care and best dental practices.
  • Logistics of accessing care through a patient facilitation company or broker located in Canada and US and their impact on standards of care.
  • Patient interviews and experiences specifically, making the decision to access dental care outside their home country and ‘shopping’ for dental care in Los Algodones.
  • The broader health policy implication of this study.
  • Lessons to be learned about safety, ethics, and the information that is available about dental tourism.
  • A look ahead at the future of dental tourism.

Access the paper: 

Oasis Moment/Preview (1.21″)

Full Conversation (14.15″)



  1. Brian Kizner September 11, 2019

    Interesting interview. I visited Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 2006, with my wife, who is from Sarajevo. We were in a taxi one day and after my wife told the driver that we were visiting from Canada, he suggested we should do like many visiting Europeans and see a dentist there as it would be much less expensive than at home. He said there were many fine German-trained dentists there who catered to patients from all over Europe. As it turned out, we happened to walk by a partially constructed dental office a day or two later and walked in to have a look. It was, in fact, a young German dentist who had recently graduated. His clinic looked as good as any in Canada.
    Similarly, a few years before that, I was at a convention in San Diego, California, and took a brief side trip to Tijuana, Mexico (a short tram ride and walk away from San Diego) and noticed dental offices (as well as massage parlours, tattoo studios, car mechanics, and many retailers) offering services to Americans.

  2. Shan Shanmgavadivel September 12, 2019

    Many Canadian dentists know some of their patients are seeking cheaper treatments in their native countries and in other foreign countries that offer cheaper treatment options. Dentures, crowns, bridge work are much cheaper in India and Sri Lanka. Some of them get braces and even implants. More often than not, the quality of work happens to be unsatisfactory. No proper records are taken and treatments are rushed to be finished before they leave the country. No referral or records are given to the patients to follow up when they return to Canada. I was told that a fellow is arranging to fly a group to have cheap crowns done in Sri Lanka. I think ODA has to play a role in educating the public on the ill effects of dental tourism. I hear the coming International Dental conference is going to be held in Sri Lanka in June 2020 and it’s necessary to bring this matter at the conference. I suggest ODA should do a survey among the members on their feedback on Dental Tourism.

    1. CDA Oasis September 16, 2019

      Hello Shan,
      Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment. I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that CDA Oasis is a CDA-run project. We certainly work with ODA and are privileged to do so; however, this content is provided by CDA.
      Thank you again,

  3. Geoffrey Dice September 23, 2019

    It’s good that the CDA is starting the conversation on this, but we dentists need more info and more resources on how to talk to our patients about this.

    I would be interested to know more information on specifically what she found in her research – the final report has broad generalities, so perhaps I will have to find and access the published paper, but it would have been nice to get a better sense from her what the specific issues and concerns were. For example, what are the concerns around labour practices? Are there specifics around the lack of follow-up care?

    Also, I think the profession could do better at informing both patients and dentists about issues related to dental tourism:

    – What is there in terms of regulatory oversight in other countries?
    – Who is allowed to call themselves a dentist in other countries, and what qualifications do they need to practice dentistry? Commonly we hear that “they are American trained dentists,” but is this true? Could these dentists pass American board exams? In some countries, I believe dentists just need a bachelor’s degree and from what I’ve anecdotally gathered, they seem to have about as much training as a therapist, if that.
    – Are prices lower because of low wages? Lower standards of infection control? Counterfeit or poor quality implant parts? Lower standards of qualification or cost of education for practicing dentistry?
    – What are some of the specific risks that dental tourists face?

    We are taught to be very careful to not bad-mouth fellow dentists as a professional standard. How do we carefully inform patients of the serious risks they put themselves in in some situations ?


Leave a Comment Shan Shanmgavadivel Cancel Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: