How rough is America's dental state of affairs? Rough enough that US citizens are heading to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico—dogged by a reputation of being one of the world's most dangerous cities, though KVIA notes that violence is down—to get their teeth cared for. The station and the Atlantic both talked to Dr. Jessica Nitardy, who lives in El Paso, Texas, but commutes to her practice in Ciudad Juarez where she "can count my Mexican patients on my fingers. They all come from Austin, Houston, even Florida, Colorado, Alaska..." Look no further than her website to understand why they make the journey: A chart lines Rio Grande Dental's prices alongside common US prices for porcelain crowns ($249 versus $850) and fillings ($50 versus $250), along with significantly cheaper dental implants, root canals, and more.
The Atlantic offers a slew of dour stats: More than a third of the US didn't see a dentist last year; some 42% of us are estimated to have no dental insurance; and most of the newly insured under ObamaCare didn't opt for an additional dental plan. Nitardy explains why she can charge so little—and afford to collect patients from the airport in a complimentary car and run a shuttle van to and from El Paso hotels: Her rent is cheap, and so is labor (her assistant is paid what the Atlantic terms a "generous" $100 a week), and she doesn't have to have malpractice insurance. Says one patient in her waiting room quite simply, "I had some appraisals done in the States and then found out that they could do it here for about a third of the cost." (Read more dentists stories.)