Dr. Gerlecz and staff are dedicated to providing you with a pleasant visit and results that you're proud to show off. Our administrative staff is ready to help you with questions about scheduling, financial policy and insurance, to make that part of the process as simple as possible. This section offers information from the administrative side of the practice, including What to Expect on Your First Visit, Scheduling, Financial Policy, Insurance, Infection Control, and Home Instructions.

First Visit

Your initial appointment will begin with us getting to know you. We're interested in who recommended you to our practice and what your concerns are with regards to your dental health. Actually, we're interested in any information that helps us better know the people we serve. Also during this initial visit, we will review your medical history and do a comprehensive dental exam. If your treatment needs are minimal, Dr. Gerlecz may present treatment recommendations to you at your initial visit. More complex issues require time to properly diagnose and treatment plan; thus, a separate appointment at a later date may be necessary.

Please assist us by providing the following information at the time of your consultation:

  • Your referral slip and any X-rays if applicable.
  • A list of medications you are presently taking.
  • If you have medical or dental insurance, bring the necessary completed forms. This will save time and allow us to help you process any claims.

IMPORTANT: A parent or guardian must accompany all patients under 18 at the consultation visit.

Please alert the office if you have a medical condition that may be of concern prior to surgery (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, artificial heart valves and joints, rheumatic fever, etc.) or if you are on any medication (i.e. heart medications, aspirin, anticoagulant therapy, etc.) or require medication prior to dental cleanings (i.e antibiotics, for pre-med.)

X-Rays

If your previous dentist has taken recent x-rays (within 6-months), you may request that they forward them to our office. If there is not enough time, please pick them up and bring them to our office. If additional films are necessary, they can be taken at our facility.

Scheduling

Joseph M. Gerlecz, DDS is open Monday and Wednesday from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM, Tuesday from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and Thursday from 7:00 AM until 2:00 PM. We will schedule your appointment as promptly as possible. If you have pain or an emergency situation, every attempt will be made to see you that day.

We try our best to stay on schedule to minimize your waiting. Due to the fact Dr. Gerlecz provides many types of dental services, various circumstances may lengthen the time allocated for a procedure. Emergency cases can also arise and cause delays. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

Please call us at 850-265-3334 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Financial Policy

For your convenience we accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover. We deliver the finest care at the most reasonable cost to our patients, therefore payment is due at the time service is rendered unless other arrangements have been made in advance. If you have questions regarding your account, please contact us at 850-265-3334. Many times, a simple telephone call will clear any misunderstandings.

Please remember you are fully responsible for all fees charged by this office regardless of your insurance coverage.

We will send you a monthly statement. Most insurance companies will respond within four to six weeks. Please call our office if your statement does not reflect your insurance payment within that time frame. Any remaining balance after your insurance has paid is your responsibility. Your prompt remittance is appreciated. We can make arrangements for a monthly payment plan but this must be done prior to the actual procedure.

Insurance

We make every effort to provide you with the finest care and the most convenient financial options. To accomplish this we work hand-in-hand with you to maximize your insurance reimbursement for covered procedures. If you have any problems or questions, please ask for Diane. She has over twenty years of experience and is well versed in this area. She can be reached by phone at (850) 265-3334.Please call if you have any questions or concerns regarding your initial visit.

Please bring your insurance information with you to the consultation so that we can expedite reimbursement.

A Word About Dental Insurance

Actually, this will take more than a word or two, but please read on. Dental insurance has been around in one form or another since the early 1970's. The maximum benefit on most plans at that time was $1000 per year. They would pay for 50% of "major" procedures (crowns, root canals, bridges) and 80% of procedures like fillings. Much has changed over the past three or four decades. Insurance premiums increase annually, dental fees continue to rise to pay for increases in salary and benefits for employees and increased material, lab and equipment costs. Procedures like dental implants and advanced cosmetic procedures have added to the complexity of dentistry but provide wonderful services to patients that could be helped by these treatments. One would assume that the increase in premiums that the insurance companies collect would translate into increase benefits to their policy holders. Sadly, this is not the case. Most dental insurance companies allow the same $1000 annual benefit or less. $1000 does not go quite as far as it did 30 years ago, whether it be dental services, food, clothing, or rent. What you or your employer pays for the insurance determines how much your insurance company pays for a procedure. There are countless insurance companies, all with a different fee schedules. So 80% usually means 80% of their fee, unless your dentist's fee is less, then it will be 80% of the lesser fee. Of course, if your dentist's charge is more, the insurance company will say that the charge exceeds "usual and customary".

PPO's

Another major change in dental and health insurance has been the formation of "Preferred Provider Organizations". A preferred provider is a doctor who agrees to let the insurance company decide what he/she can charge for a service. Again, there are many companies, all with different amounts they will pay for procedures. So one company will reimburse the dentist more than another company and so it goes. Dentists who participate in multiple plans have multiple fees they charge for the same procedure. The range in charges for the same procedure is vast within the same office. Those patients whose insurance company allows the dentist to charge more, subsidize the dental care for the patients whose company allows the dentist to charge less for the same procedure. And if you don't have dental insurance, you are subsidizing the care of every patient in that practice who does. I don't believe that is fair, do you? The dental insurance company may also dictate what type of material the dentist uses. For example, most will only pay when silver filling material is used. If you want a tooth-colored material to be used, you will have to pay more. Because the fee the insurance company allows within the "network" has nothing to do with what it costs the dentist to provide the service, the doctor is faced with two choices to make ends meet: 1) see a larger volume of patients and do as much as the insurance company will pay for in less time or 2) reduce costs by using a less expensive lab or cheaper materials. We see patients who have gone to the same office for several years and have never met the dentist. There is usually more than one option for treatment, the ideal usually more expensive, the alternative usually less expensive; but given the same option, I would not do less for any patient than I would do for my own family. So, I have never participated in a PPO.

CAN YOU BE A PATIENT IN OUR PRACTICE IF YOU ARE PART OF A PPO?

Absolutley. Most PPO's will reimburse us for treatment. The amount is usually less than if we were a provider which means that you would have to pay the balance. We will file any necessary forms as a courtesy to you. The reimbursement gap is not always as wide as one might think. We have many patients that belong to PPO's that choose to be patients in our practice. We trust this is because they receive a level of care from us that they have not experienced elsewhere.

Patients that don't have dental insurance ask us how much we charge if a patient has insurance vs. one who does not. The answer is that we do not charge the insurance company any more or less than we charge our fee-for-service patients. The fee is the same. You will not be subsidizing or helping pay for someone's discounted care in our office. We allow the amount of time for each procedure that allows us to do our very best work. A good question to ask any health care provider when faced with a treatment decision is, "what would you do if it was your family member?" That question is considered before any treatment recommendation we make.

Infection Control

Infection controls and universal precautions protect clients and staff alike. Everyone benefits from rigorous infection control — you, your dentist, and the dental team. The cornerstone in a good and safe dental practice is the element of trust. You should feel free to discuss this topic with Dr. Gerlecz and receive a straightforward answer.

Dr. Gerlecz and our entire team follow procedures recommended by several federal agencies: the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These measures include:

  • Disinfectant hand soap
  • Gloves and face masks
  • Chemical disinfection of countertops and surfaces
  • Sterilization of all equipment before every use
  • Disposable materials
  • We sterilize all reusable equipment, including dental hand pieces. We use an autoclave, a device that kills bacteria and viruses by steam, heat and pressure.

The best defense against disease is information. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make wise decisions about your health care. The more you know about our daily procedures and policies, the more comfortable you will feel.

Advanced Technology

Precision Dentistry

When you seek care at our office, you are assured that Dr. Gerlecz and his staff utilize the latest in technology to enhance the quality and fit for your dental care. Our practice uses high power microscopes to enhance the precision of patient care. Dentistry is micro-surgery. Using microscope that is similar to the one an ophthalmologist uses enables us to create dental restorations with incredibly precise fit and finish. You just can't fulfill that level of care with the naked eye. In addition to allowing precise, close-up work, the microscope directs a beam of light directly on the teeth, minimizing glare for you. Many dentists use air-driven "hand-pieces" (the dental term for "drills"). While acceptable for many procedures, these "whiney sounding" air-powered hand pieces all have a degree of non-concentricity; they do not rotate perfectly smoothly.

For the most precise aspects of restorative procedures, we use electric hand-pieces. This results in extraordinarily precise interfaces between your tooth and your new restoration (crown, veneer, or filling). This will bring more comfort to you as well. With a more precise tool, there is less vibration and less noise.

Digital Imaging

Dr. Gerlecz chooses carefully which and when radiographs are taken. There are many guidelines that we follow. Radiographs allow us to see everything we cannot see with our own eyes. Radiographs enable us to detect cavities in between your teeth, determine bone level, and analyze the health of your bone. We can also examine the roots and nerves of teeth, diagnose lesions such as cysts or tumors, as well as assess damage when trauma occurs. Dental radiographs are invaluable aids in diagnosing, treating, and maintaining dental health. Exposure time for dental radiographs is extremely minimal. Dr. Gerlecz utilizes Digital Imaging Technologies within the office. With digital imaging, exposure time is about 50 percent less when compared to traditional radiographs. Digital imaging can also help us retrieve valuable diagnostic information. We may be able to see cavities better. Digital imaging allows us to store patient images, and enables us to quickly and easily transfer them to specialists or insurance companies.

Digital X-Rays

Digital X-rays offer more precision since we view the image on a computer monitor, instead of holding up a 35mm film up to the light. Digital X-rays results in 1/6th the radiation exposure to you.

Laser Dentistry

Laser dentistry is one of dentistry's latest advances. The laser delivers energy in the form of light. Depending on the intended result, this energy travels at different wavelengths and is absorbed by a "target." In dentistry, these targets can be enamel, decay, gum tissue, or whitening enhancers. Each one absorbs a different wavelength of light while reflecting others. Laser dentistry can be used for both tooth and soft tissue related procedures. Oftentimes no local anesthesia is required. For soft tissue (surgical) procedures it eliminates the need for suturing and healing is much faster. Lasers can be used to diagnose cavities. They can find hidden decay in teeth in early stages, and in some cases the decay can be reversed through hygiene and fluoride treatment and may never need filling.

Areas of dental care that benefit from laser technology:

  • Cavity diagnosis and removal
  • Curing, or hardening, bonding materials
  • Whitening teeth
  • Periodontal, or gum related, care
  • Pediatric procedures
  • Apthous Ulcer treatment (canker sore)
  • Frenectomy (tongue-tie release) without anesthesia or sutures
  • Root canals and apicoectomies
  • Crown lengthening, gingivectomy and other gum corrections
  • Dental lasers have been shown to be safe and effective for treating both children and adults.

Intraoral Camera

Many patients, especially younger patients, are very familiar with the latest technology and are comfortable with the high tech practice. Computers and TV screens are their primary method of information processing. Dr. Gerlecz utilizes intraoral camera technology that helps enhance your understanding of your diagnosis. An intraoral camera is a very small camera - in some cases, just a few millimeters long. An intraoral camera allows our practice to view clear, precise images of your mouth, teeth and gums, in order for us to accurately make a diagnosis. With clear, defined, enlarged images, you see details that may be missed by standard mirror examinations. This can mean faster diagnosis with less chair-time for you! Intra oral cameras also enable our practice to save your images in our office computer to provide a permanent record of treatments. These images can be printed for you, other specialists, and your lab or insurance companies.

Home Instructions

After Cosmetic Reconstruction

Remember that it will take time to adjust to the feel of your new bite. When the bite is altered or the position of the teeth is changed it takes several days for the brain to recognize the new position of your teeth or their thickness as normal. If you continue to detect any high spots or problems with your bite, call our office at 850-265-3334 so we can schedule an adjustment appointment. It is normal to experience some hot and cold sensitivity. The teeth require some time to heal after removal of tooth structure and will be sensitive in the interim. Your gums may also be sore for a few days. Warm salt water rinses (a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water) three times a day will reduce pain and swelling. A mild pain medication (one tablet of Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) every 3-4 hours) should ease any residual discomfort. Don’t be concerned if your speech is affected for the first few days. You’ll quickly adapt and be speaking normally. You may notice increased salivation. This is because your brain is responding to the new size and shape of your teeth. This should subside to normal in about a week. Daily brushing and flossing are a must for your new dental work. Daily plaque removal is critical for the long-term success of your new teeth, as are regular cleaning appointments.

Any food that can crack, chip or damage a natural tooth can do the same to your new teeth. Avoid hard foods and substances (such as beer nuts, peanut brittle, ice, fingernails, or pencils) and sticky candies. Smoking will stain your new teeth. Minimize or avoid foods that stain such as coffee, red wine, tea and berries. If you engage in sports let us know so we can make a custom mouthguard. If you grind your teeth at night, wear the night guard we have provided for you. Adjusting to the look and feel of your new smile will take time. If you have any problems or concerns, please let us know. We always welcome your questions.

After Crown and Bridge Appointments

Crowns and bridges usually take two or three appointments to complete. In the first visit, the teeth are prepared and molds of the mouth are taken. Temporary crowns or bridges are placed to protect the teeth while the custom restoration is being made. Since the teeth will be anesthetized, the tongue, lips and roof of the mouth may be numb. Please refrain from eating and drinking hot beverages until the numbness is completely worn off. Occasionally a temporary crown may come off. Call us at 850-265-3334 if this happens and bring the temporary crown with you so we can re-cement it. It is very important for the temporary to stay in place, as it will prevent other teeth from moving and compromising the fit of your final restoration. To keep your temporaries in place, avoid eating sticky foods (gum), hard foods, and if possible, chew on the opposite side of your mouth. It is important to brush normally, but floss carefully and don’t pull up on the floss which may dislodge the temporary but pull the floss out from the side of the temporary crown. It is normal to experience some temperature and pressure sensitivity after each appointment. The sensitivity should subside a few weeks after the placement of the final restoration. Mild pain medications may also be used as directed by our office.

If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office at 850-265-3334.

After Tooth Extraction

After tooth extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. That’s why we ask you to bite on a gauze pad for 30-45 minutes after the appointment. If the bleeding or oozing still persists, place another gauze pad and bite firmly for another 30 minutes. You may have to do this several times. After the blood clot forms, it is important not to disturb or dislodge the clot as it aids healing. Do not rinse vigorously, suck on straws, smoke, drink alcohol or brush teeth next to the extraction site for 72 hours. These activities will dislodge or dissolve the clot and retard the healing process. Limit vigorous exercise for the next 24 hours as this will increase blood pressure and may cause more bleeding from the extraction site. After the tooth is extracted you may feel some pain and experience some swelling. An ice pack or an unopened bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area will keep swelling to a minimum. Take pain medications as prescribed. The swelling usually subsides after 48 hours.

Use the pain medication as directed. Call the office at 850-265-3334 if the medication doesn’t seem to be working. If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if signs and symptoms of infection are gone. Drink lots of fluid and eat nutritious soft food on the day of the extraction. You can eat normally as soon as you are comfortable. It is important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing and flossing your teeth at least once a day. This will speed healing and help keep your mouth fresh and clean. After a few days you will feel fine and can resume your normal activities. If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling for 2-3 days, or a reaction to the medication, call our office immediately at 850-265-3334.

After Composite Fillings (white fillings)

When an anesthetic has been used, your lips and tongue may be numb for several hours after the appointment. Avoid any chewing and hot beverages until the numbness has completely worn off. It is very easy to bite or burn your tongue or lip while you are numb. It is normal to experience some hot, cold & pressure sensitivity after your appointment. Injection sites may also be sore. Ibuprofen (Motrin), Tylenol or aspirin (one tablet every 3-4 hours as needed for pain) work well to alleviate the tenderness. If pressure sensitivity persists beyond a few days or if the sensitivity to hot or cold increases, contact our office at 850-265-3334. You may chew with your composite fillings as soon as the anesthetic completely wears off, since they are fully set when you leave the office. If your bite feels uneven, if you have persistent pain, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office at 850-265-3334.

Smile Gallery

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Online Patient Registration

You may preregister with our office by filling out our secure online Patient Registration Form. After you have completed the form, please make sure to press the Submit button at the bottom to automatically send us your information. On your first visit to our office, we will have your completed form available for your signature. The security and privacy of your personal data is one of our primary concerns and we have taken every precaution to protect it.

ONLINE PATIENT REGISTRATION