By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH — Charlie Howenstine says it’s all about comfort.
That’s why his patients now sit in massage chairs and look up at flat screen televisions sets when they are in his dental chair.
Howenstine opened his new dentistry in August, about a year and half after breaking ground on a project that connected Niles Avenue to Hollywood Road.
Formerly known as Howenstine Dental, it was renamed St. Joseph Dentistry. The two-dentist operation is led by Howenstine and Dr. Theresa Burt.
Howenstine said he decided to get a new office building after Dr. Jeffrey Schmidt chose him to take over the dental practice in 2012. They were working at the corner of Niles Avenue and Ansley Drive, but Howenstine chose to move further down the road into Royalton Township.
They made their current location, 3386 Niles Road, twice as big as the dentistry they were working out of, thinking there would be room to grow. Just as they were nearing the project’s completion, Dr. Harvey Johnson in Stevensville reached out to Howenstine and Burt to take over his patients.
“We instantly doubled in size, which is a blessing because we’re twice as big now,” he said. “It happened quickly.”
Howenstine hails from Rice Lake, Wis., and came to the area to be closer to his wife’s family, who live in South Bend. Burt was a Naval dentist before finding her way to St. Joseph Dentistry.
There are eight “operatories,” with which patients are seated in for checkups. It is in these rooms where the heated chair, TV and other technology comes into play.
Howenstine said it is the largest, state-of-the-art dentistry in Berrien County. The dentist is an active member of an online dentist group called Dental Town. The group includes dentists across the country who post some of their ideas on best practices.
This group, Howenstine said, gave him some of the best ideas he used in the build out of the new dentistry.
“I mean who thinks to put a TV on the ceiling? It turned out to be a great idea for patients to pass the time while we’re at work.”
He said he chose the location for convenience and patient visibility with its access points and proximity to I-94.
With a large reception area and expanded break room, Howenstine said the new building is supposed to benefit both patients and staff. The move to Royalton has also more than doubled the amount of staff members at St. Joseph Dentistry.
“Other than the soothing colors, it’s clean, nice and new,” he said. “It really invokes a sense of calm in patients. We do everything we can to make it a comfortable experience. We also stress an importance on time. We don’t make you wait.”
The dentistry is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 281-8080.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 12, 2017)