The Eschmann sponsored tour of the world’s dental practices reaches Mexico and the Circle Dental Group, Frank Nunez reports...
Run by Dr. Jiménez (below) who founded the practice nine years ago and has an honours degree from the Cuauhtémoc University in Guadalajara, the Circle Dental Group is located on the US/Mexico border of Los Algodones, Baja California, and is ideally situated for patients visiting from both America and Canada
As a small town we benefit from what we like to call the “snow-bird effect”. This is what we affectionately call the winter visitors from the North who come to experience warmer climates. With dental clinics, pharmacies and restaurants driving the economy in Los Algodones, 99% of the patients we treat are American and Canadian, and during the winter seasons we tend to be busiest. Despite savings of up to 70% compared to North American and Canadian prices, with temperatures reaching 110 Fahrenheit (over 43 Celsius) the summer tends to be the quietist time for us as a practice.
Comprised of three dental surgeons – including Dr. Jiménez as the primary dentist – four assistants, two receptionists and yours truly, we offer many treatments including crowns, veneers, dental bridges, laser teeth whitening and endodontics. During the high season Circle Dental Group can treat anything from five to 15 patients a day, most of whom seek either dental crowns or implants.
As dental tourism is extremely competitive around our area, we rely heavily on positive reviews and word of mouth marketing from our patients. As a result, the quality of our service must remain high at all times.
Policies and Procedures
Although the American Dental Association (ADA) or Canadian Dental Association (CDA) can’t govern us, we still adhere to all their policies and procedures and have constant communications with the ADA to ensure we remain compliant. We also meet all the regulations detailed by the Mexican governing body, the Asociación Dental Mexicana (ADM).
In line with this, decontamination and infection control is of the highest priority to us at Circle Dental Group. The two sterilisation units we use are the Tuttnauer Valueklave 1730 and the Cristofoli Autoclave Vitale B-24L. When using them we ensure that the temperature level and time needed are met accordingly. To do this, specially designed bags are used to sterilise the equipment, employing a colour strip to determine when the process is complete, when it will either change colour or in some cases disappear altogether.
Essentially, the entire practice has been planned around these concepts. Indeed, when Dr. Jiménez designed the facility he fashioned it so that staff would be separate from the visitors by having two entrances to each of the five surgery rooms. One door is for the dentists and assistants and the other for the patients. This makes it much easier to perimeter off the disinfected areas and sterilised equipment thus maintaining the high standard needed to run a quality practice. To minimise the chance of infection, cell phones and remote controls are not permitted within the premises.
Maintaining such high standards on a daily basis involves our staff vigilantly repeating thorough processes. In order to stay ahead, the team arrives an hour before our doors open to patients so we can decontaminate the practice at the start of every day. This includes the lobby area, all windows, doorknobs, equipment surfaces, television screens, dental chairs, floors and rest rooms. Although we lean towards using clorox cleaning products, we have several brands in stock. Essentially, as long as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves the products, we are happy to use them.
Once open, each surgery must be cleaned and disinfected between each patient visit as follows:
• All surfaces and instruments are decontaminated and cleaned thoroughly or recovered with disposable protective covering if required.
• Hands must be washed before and after treatment and in-between each patient to minimise cross infection. We provide a basin in every surgery so that the patient can see the process occurring.
• Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used at all times including gloves, masks, gowns and eyewear (if working near the patient). They should be changed between each patient and disposed of correctly after use.
• Disposable instruments are placed in the allocated containers.
The biggest challenge for us is the misconception that Mexico is unsafe. From experience it has become apparent that some visitors have reservations about certain areas but I can honestly say that safety is not a concern in Los Algodones, nor should it be for other cities in Mexico. Once people have actually visited and realised how inexpensive and secure it really is, they tend to keep coming back long afterwards, which is great news for all of us.
Frank Nunez is the customer service representative for the Circle Dental Group.