FARMINGTON — A new Santa Fe-based business aims to help people save up to 80 percent in dental care costs at clinics just south of the border.
Since June, Beyond Borders Dental LLC has taken people primarily from Santa Fe and Albuquerque to dental clinics in Puerto Palomas de Villa, Mexico — commonly called Palomas — a small border town in Chihuahua approximately 35 miles south of Deming. Unlike larger border cities such as Tijuana and Juarez, Palomas is a small town of about 5,000 people, making the dental tourism venture easier, according to company co-founder Ralph Grosswald.
The idea for the venture was born in February when Grosswald and his partner needed thousands of dollars in dental work.
Three crowns and other work valued at about $6,000 in the U.S. only cost them $920 in Palomas, he said.
With experience in business, tourism and extensive world travel, the couple said they researched medical costs and quality of the care and settled on Palomas.
"We were totally blown away by the quality of work being done and the savings," Grosswald said.
Palomas' website touts both its history as the site from which Pancho Villa raided the U.S. in 1916 and its appeal as a popular destination for medical tourists. A growing trend worldwide, dental tourism is a subset of the medical tourism sector in which people seek affordable dental or other medical care outside their immediate areas or abroad.
A greeting message on the website states that "for decades, U.S. residents have come to Mexican border towns seeking more affordable dental work, prescription medication and eyeglasses."
Grosswald said dental clinics in Palomas are a few blocks from the border and can provide savings and relief, especially to older Americans.
"It's epidemic, older people needing dental care and not getting it," Grosswald said. "We're not knocking dentists in Farmington, or in the U.S., but for the one in three people who have untreated cavities, this is vitally important."
Half of all seniors have not visited the dentist in the past year, he said.
Beyond Borders offers a "concierge program," which takes people to a hotel in Deming, where they stay overnight. The following day, the group travels with a guide to Palomas to see a dentist and to enjoy the Mexican town before returning that evening.
The company also offers a "self-service program" for people who will make the trip south on their own. Grosswald said those people — including San Juan County residents — can still find Beyond Borders' services helpful, including setting up appointments, getting price quotes and guide help in Mexico.
Grosswald said people interested in either service need to first see a local dentist and obtain a dental treatment plan and then call Beyond Borders for a quote.
Greater interest from here could lead to the company expanding in the area, he said.
James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.
What: Beyond Borders Dental LLC
Where: 54-A Avenida Alvea in Santa Fe
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
More information: Call 505-570-2220 or go to beyondbordersdental.com.