I had a visitor to this blog last month who was responding to a post in which I was critical of Mexican dental care. He wanted to tell me that the Sani Dental Group in Los Algodones was a quality operation. I responded that because of their aggressive marketing strategy, I didn’t trust them. He took issue with that, and I decided to respond to his last comment with a separate blog post. See my response below.
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I haven’t changed my opinion about the Sani Dental Group. It is very easy to tell by what they do online that they have an aggressive marketing strategy. And even though every patient doesn’t perceive attempts to “upsell” treatment options, the fact that some do is troubling. Let me give a little more insight into my thinking.
Dentistry is a very ethical profession, on the whole. Most dentists have a sincere desire to help people and their professional goal is to treat patients in a competent and ethical manner. But some of them are driven to make as much money as they can. In the case of the Sani Dental Clinic, it looks to me like they are in this latter group.
Here is what I read on their website about their history:
“SANI DENTAL GROUP is the largest dental group in Los Algodones, Baja California, and one of the largest in Mexico. It was originally established in 1985 by D.D.S. Enrique Jimenez in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. After years spent honing his skills, he decided to move north to Los Algodones where he established a new office. Since then, SANI has grown from a 2-chair, one dentist office, to a 30+ dentists group with three different offices in Los Algodones.”
While this is worded to present the growth as something that just happened, I know enough about the dental industry to know that this kind of growth doesn’t happen without a strong driving force behind it. This is my first clue that the goal of the clinic is making money—as much as possible.
Their whole online presence shows an aggressive marketing strategy. This has become my prime area of expertise—dental marketing, and our specialty is presenting dentists to the public in a very matter-of-fact way, without any pushy marketing thinking. That’s not what they are doing. Now, you can tell that they are very smart in their marketing and have honed their customer service skills. They cater to the needs of their patients. That’s great. In their aggressive marketing strategy, they know enough to not want to be perceived that way when interacting one-on-one with their patients. As expected, most of their Google reviews are highly positive, and their are only a few complaining about them trying to upsell treatment options. That’s not enough to get me to trust them.
I look at the Yelp reviews and tend to rely on them more so than the Google reviews. Yelp is a different reviews platform, Yelp users tend to be more discriminating, and Yelp is more careful about what reviews it will display. The Yelp reviews for Sani Dental Group are mostly negative. Out of 13 reviews, 3 are 5-star, 2 are 4-star, 3 are 2-star, and 5 are 1-star. Here’s a quote from one of the 1-star reviews:
“My mom and I went to Mexico recently for her to have dental work done. I’m sure mom needed some dental work done but not 10 crowns and a root canal. The 2nd molar that had the crown and root canal fell out 2 months later due to bone loss.”
This is a very troubling review. If it is true that a root canal and crown were done on a tooth that had serious bone loss that would indicate a serious lack of integrity by the dentist—a dentist looking for an excuse to make as much money as possible.
Trust is critical in dental care, and you need a dentist who isn’t driven by monetary concerns. There are too many decisions that a dentist makes where different treatment options are weighed and the patient has no clue about what is really needed. Is a cavity big enough that a crown is warranted, or will a simple filling do? This question can come up daily. If a dentist is driven to make money, that is going to color that decision, and the patient isn’t going to know whether or not the crown was really necessary. Even honest dentists have to resist the temptation to over-treat.
I do have a dentist I recommend who practices just over the border in Mexico. I have spent quite a bit of time on the phone with this dentist and am confident of not only his expertise but his integrity. But sadly, I can’t say the same about the Sani Dental Group.
– Dr. Hall
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