Dentist Fights Recession with Refreshments

dentistDentists are usually the first health-care professionals to suffer during tough economic times. After all, a cavity isn't going to kill you, and many people consider regular six-month checkups a luxury they can do without. But Texas DDS Clint Herzog has yet to feel the bite of the recession; in fact, he's even expanding. Herzog is hiring more employees and contributing to the economy by buying lots of new equipment -- high-tech equipment that even includes flat-screen TVs. He even serves wine, beer and Botox!

"When I was a kid, I hated going to the dentist," Herzog says. "So I decided to create the kind of dentist office that patients actually want to visit. We serve beer and wine. We have plasma TV sets in front of every chair and the only uniforms we wear are jeans and T-shirts."

Okay, so they are chic, black T-shirts. Herzog wears his with black Converse high tops. The practices aren't called offices, but rather "studios," and they have hip names like Floss, Mint and Pure. They've been described as "eco-chic," with sleek green builds, X-rays that are low-radiation, and toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups.

Walk in the door and you might think you took a wrong turn into a spa or social club. The staff offers you your choice of beverage, from sparkling water to soda to beer to wine, chosen from an extensive menu. "It calms the nerves," says patient David Garcia, who hadn't been to a dentist in one, maybe two years before he started coming to Dr. Herzog. Now he looks forward to his regular checkups.

What's not to like? Among the amenities are iPods, massage chairs and wireless reception. Patients are encouraged to text, tweet and Facebook from the dental chair; unless, of course, they prefer to watch a game or cooking show on the flat-screen TVs mounted on the ceiling.

And the Botox? Well, that's offered free to patients who refer others. "It's been a hit," Herzog says.

Although not embraced by the traditional dental community, Herzog's practice is growing like weeds in Texas. He started with one office in Dallas, and now there are three more, as well as one in Houston. He says he's contemplating another family-oriented dental facility that's just as much fun for kids as the current ones are for adults. Can you imagine your kids actually begging you to take them to the dentist?

There are some people who sit around and wait for the government to reduce unemployment and cure the recession, and there are others who take matters into their own Latex-covered hands, create jobs and do their best to fight decay -- both dental and economic. Herzog would be one of the latter.

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