Dental Care in Mexico: Cultural Differences You Should Know
For the most comfortable experience while getting dental treatment in Mexico, it is important to understand that there are distinctive cultural differences between the US and Mexico, even though they are neighboring countries. Americans have liberally blended the culture of many origins worldwide, whereas Mexicans have tried to preserve their lifestyle conservatively, and the basic tenets of Mexican culture remain unchanged over time. Mexican people follow their traditional customs and etiquette rather strictly. Family comes first for the Mexicans; their profession comes second.
A Typical Mexican Workday Can Be Long
Few people actually work 9-to-5 in Mexico. Regular business hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but most employees stay past that time and without complaint. You’re expected to work hard in the Mexican work culture, which is demonstrated by how long you stay or how many vacation days you take. As a matter of fact, vacation is not expected as much as in other countries.
Lunch is Usually Late, Long, and Social
As in many Latin American countries, it’s common for workers to take a lengthy social gathering over lunchtime and Mexican workers are no exception. As a result, lunch crowds are typically large, loud, social, and energetic.
In Mexico, Time is Open-Ended and Imprecise
When referring to time, Mexicans often say manaña meaning “tomorrow,” or estos días, “these days.” Someone might say ahorita or “right now,” but it may mean in a few days. They might say they will get back to you, mañana, but actually mean “in the near future.” When it comes to time and appointments, it’s best to refer to a specific date and time.
Regarding getting dental treatment in Mexico, a very important aspect of the differences is how Americans view their relationship with a medical or dental professional versus how patients in Mexico see their dentist. Mexico remains a patriarchal society. Although there are increasing numbers of female dentists (we have quite a few), the Mexican dentist is often male and used to being an authority figure. Americans can be somewhat resistant to authority. They value individuality and are used to questioning authority and taking responsibility for their own health. Americans can be seen as arrogant, demanding, and impatient compared to Mexican patients.
This is not to cast aspersions on how we Americans relate to our health care, but only to alert you to the cultural differences. We suggest you remember that you are getting dental care in another country and be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting. Be patient and understand how the doctor-patient relationship is different in Mexico. Mexican patients are less demanding and more compliant, in general. If you keep that in mind and factor the cultural differences into your expectations, you will get excellent dental treatment at significant savings.
Are we suggesting that toning down the American attitude might be helpful? We support your getting all of the information you need in this process, and feel free to ask any questions you need to. Just understand that your dentist is a product of his culture, just as you are of yours. Recognizing this is a pretty good thing to remember when visiting any other country.
Let us know any questions you have and how we can help.