Most of us dread scheduling our six-month dental checkups and the dental work that comes with it. Although going to the dentist may bring back fears from the eerie scenes of The Dentist, several dental practices in the country offer to take the “edge off” in a cosmopolitan way, not à la Dr. Alan Feinstone. Patients can now serve themselves a complimentary glass of red or white wine, and sip at their leisure, while waiting to get a root canal or other dental procedures — a service offered by several New York City dental offices.
"We offer the beverages as part of our efforts to create a welcoming, boutique, spa-like environment in the office and make patients more comfortable," said Dr. David Janash of Park South Dentistry, to DNAinfo New York. "We also provide cozy blankets for people while they get treatments and warm, scented towels to refresh their face and hands. Our patients love it," he continued. The dental office also offers its patients complimentary coconut water, juices, and tea, for those who do not wish to sip alcohol.
Other dental offices that offer the service include Nolita’s Marini and Manci, DMD, which provides a bucket of bottles of red and white wine for patients to pour themselves and sip while in the waiting room. Marini and Manci patients, such as a 29-year-old longtime patient who asked that her name not be disclosed, rave about the practice’s unique approach to dental work. “"It's an extra something that helps you dread the dentist a little less. I don't know why more places don't do it, quite frankly," she said.
Park South Dentistry and Marini and Manci’s are among the latest businesses to offer their clients free wine before appointments in New York City, but this may soon be short-lived. According to a New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) spokesman, none of the dentists’ offices have been licensed by the SLA and are therefore not allowed to serve the wine even if it’s free. Prospective dental practices that would like to offer the service are required to complete an alcohol permit application and pay a fee of $38.00 for three years in New York State.
The unique approach to dentistry has not only been seen in New York City, but also in Houston, Texas. In 2011, ABC 13 reported how the alcohol-serving dental office, Floss Dental, was causing a stir among dentists in the area for their delivery of dental care. Dr. Clint Herzog, dentist who has opened several offices in Dallas and Houston, focused on his patients’ concerns to make the experience more comfortable. "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," he told ABC 13. Dr. Greg Condrey, president of the Greater Houston Dental Society, believes it’s a “marketing gimmick” and “cheapens” the dental experience.
While alcohol may take the edge off dental visits, patients should think twice before they sip. Drinking alcohol before a dental appointment can affect your blood clotting system and depress the central nervous system. Alcohol can cause the heart to beat too rapidly or irregularly and can induce arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The heart’s upper, or atrial, chambers do not contract in this form of arrhythmia, possibly leading blood to accumulate and even clot in these upper chambers. If the blood clot travels from the heart to the brain, a stroke can occur, among other things.
Patients should talk with their dentist if they have anxiety, to resort to non-alcohol approaches. Dentists can use nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to help take the edge off, or resort to valium pills, and even IV sedation.