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Filler: Staffers deserve credit for reporting alleged drunk dentist

Robert Garelick, 57, of Melville, is led out

Robert Garelick, 57, of Melville, is led out of the First Precinct in West Babylon for arraignment in Central Islip Criminal Court. Garelick, a dentist, is accused of reckless endangerment. (Jan. 22, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

As if going to the dentist wasn’t already scary enough!

Accusations that Lindenhurst dentist Robert Garelick was trying to drill while intoxicated are sure to give pause to his patients in particular, and pop to mind for lots of folks going to any dentist as the whirring tools near their mouths. Garelick allegedly tried to see to a patient after sipping at a squeeze bottle full of vodka throughout the day. According to police reports, Garelick admitted to the drinking, but pled not guilty Tuesday to a charge of second-degree reckless endangerment.

If there is a bright side to the story, it may be that it was Garelick’s own staff that stopped him from doing serious dental damage after realizing he’d been squeezing the bottle. One worker said Garelick was having trouble figuring out which side of a patient’s mouth to administer Novocain and fillings to Monday, and said that in September she had to call Garelick’s wife because the dentist “smelled like alcohol and could barely stand up and treat a patient.”

In more than 30 years of practicing dentistry, Garelick reportedly has no record of professional discipline. What he likely does have, if these accusations turn out to be correct, is a serious drinking problem that needs to be addressed with treatment.

And based on what’s come out so far, the staffers who stopped the dentist and alerted police to the situation deserve credit. They risked their livelihoods in making a move that could anger their employer and expose the business they work for to negative publicity. And it was the right thing to do.


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