18 June 2009 - Palomas is the little border town that discount dentistry built. There are the usual liquor stores and curio venders, and even a cantina with a Statute of Liberty on the roof. But mostly the streets are lined with storefront clinics offering crowns, dentures, cleanings. Walk-ins welcome! As the sign promises: “American standards at Mexican prices,” where a porcelain filling and a shot of Novocain will set you back about $60.
We went looking for dentists to talk about the hard times created by the storms of violence along the border. In the video, you can meet Jesus Jasso Salazar, who came here a decade ago to make his living with a drill and learned to say “open wide” in English. Most of his patients were Americans, until they got scared away by sudden surge in kidnappings and killings. Jasso used to be busy all day long in his two-chair clinic. Now he sits reading books in his own waiting room.
That’s the thing about drug violence. It can hollow out a place. Dentists have been the bedrock of this community for years. Now they’re moving on.
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