Alcohol-serving dental office causes stir

May 12, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
Ever heard about taking a drink to take the edge off? One Houston dentist is offering a beer or glass of wine to patients in the waiting room.

It's going over well with the patients we met, but what do other dentists in Houston think about it?

It is not a bar or restaurant. It's a dental office.

"I figure if you're going to take the afternoon off and have go to the dentist, might as well go to a dentist that's going to offer you a glass of wine while you wait," dental patient Darsey Post said.

A glass of wine persuaded Post to come to Floss Dental, where complimentary wine and beer is offered to waiting patients.

"Hey, we're nervous, why don't we give a cold beer or glass of wine in the waiting room, and we said why not let's try it," Dr. Clint Herzog said.

It's apparently working. In three years, Dr. Herzog has opened five offices in Dallas and three in Houston. More are under construction.

"It's a marketing gimmick," said Dr. Greg Condrey, president of the Greater Houston Dental Society. "I think it almost cheapens the delivery of dental care in a way. Is it unethical? Certainly not. Is it illegal? Not at all."

"Some of the dentists are up in arms about it but really, I think the answer is I care about my patients," Dr. Herzog said.

Instead of alcohol, there are other things dentists can do to help you with anxiety. Nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, will definitely take the edge off, and there are valium pills and even IV sedation.

Herzog says about one in four accept, more at the end of the day. But he says the alcohol is part of a relaxed atmosphere that includes no white coats.

"We try to love on the patient from the time they walk in the door to the time they leave," he said.

And that includes a glass of wine in the dental chair.

Floss dental checks ID's before serving alcohol to patients, and is actually compliant with the TABC. And though the staff is trained to handle someone who asks for one too many, Dr Herzog says that hasn't happened.

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