The holidays are over, but if you still crave that feeling of family warmth, a trip to get your teeth cleaned may be in order.
Being welcomed as family while having your all-important dental health tuned up is par for the course at the friendly office of Dr. Dale Stanec Jr., who has practiced dentistry here for 11 years. It helps that his charming wife, Elena, is at the front desk to put clients at ease and reassure them with her warm, sparkling smile.
And patients who have been with the Stanecs since the office at 3222 Royal Drive, Suite B, opened in January 2002 have been blessed with watching the couple’s two sons grow up before their eyes. Dale III, 10, and Luis, 8, have been frequent fixtures at the family practice all their young lives.
“I have patients who have seen them grow up, and their children have grown up with our family,” said the 39-year-old Stanec as he gazed out the window of the dental suite, located just across Royal Drive from the entrance to the Cameron Park Country Club Golf Course.
The peaceful setting is just the beginning of a process that sets patients at their ease, Stanec explained.
“With me being the only dentist in the office, I do a little of everything — even teeth cleanings,” he said. “I think by being small, I stay true to my personality. I’m able to give individual attention to each patient, and I’m able to enjoy them one at a time.”
One of those enjoyed by Stanec is Lee Gazelle of Shingle Springs, who has been a loyal patient for more than a decade.
“It began about 10 or 11 years ago when my wife, Marty, was having problems and her regular dentist was too busy to see her,” said Gazelle, 67. “Dr. Stanec took her right in and she’s been going to him ever since. But the harder part of the story is that I had gone with no dental work for 30 years, because I’m deathly afraid of dentists. My wife came home and said, ‘You’ve got to visit this guy.’
“So pretty soon there I was, sitting in the dentist’s chair, and Dale was so nice and friendly. Of course, I had a mouthful of problems, but he had a system worked out and made everything just a completely enjoyable experience.”
The Gazelles’ enthusiasm for Stanec’s friendly professionalism quickly spread to their son and his family, and to one of the Gazelles’ neighbors, all of whom became clients of the Cameron Park dentist.
Stanec is quick to give plaudits to wife Elena, 40, who he said “does all the rest” while he tends to clients’ dental health. “She’s the receptionist, she does the billing, sterilizations, marketing — everything,” said Stanec, smiling at his wife.
The Stanec family is well known in the local community, and those beautiful smiles the dentist has helped preserve are the payoff.
“We see our patients outside the office, out and about, and we’re the ones running them down, giving them a hug,” said Dale. “I think that’s because I truly enjoy my patients. I like getting out of bed in the morning so I can do what I love.”
The dentist said former classmates who are interested in starting a dental practice have sought his advice, and he tells them chiefly to “base it on your personality.”
“I was the first one in my graduating class to open a private practice, and I guess I’m ‘old school’ because I believe in booking patients one at a time, talking, chatting with them — getting to know them and their expectations as far as what they’re after,” he said.
Dale said his office can accommodate virtually all family dental needs, and he handles all ages.
“We’ll get a plan in order and find out what’s important to each patient, then match that to their budget,” he explained. “There are multiple options available here, and we don’t ‘force feed’ anyone on any procedure.”
Dale Stanec added that he learned from his dad to use “only the best” in equipment and supplies, and he insists on quality while preserving “reasonable rates.”
As for working with children, who often can be terrified with their first trip to the dentist, Stanec said he has a tried-and-true method.
“I take it very slowly,” he said. “Of course, that applies to adult patients as well, but I find that if you explain things and just have patience and understanding, everything falls into place. I’ve learned to use time as my ally.”
Elena Stanec listened as her husband spoke enthusiastically about his practice, then she offered her own observation regarding clients who find themselves lying in the dentist’s chair, unable to respond verbally to Dale’s friendly chatter as he works inside their mouth.
“All his poor patients have to follow his football teams, mainly the Cleveland Browns,” she said.
Indeed, the walls of the dental office are dotted with photos of professional sports figures and action scenes. One photo, taken in the 1970s, features Dale’s mom, Carol, a member of an early women’s soccer team. Both the young Stanec boys play soccer as well.
Dale Stanec said his office is accepting new patients and he added that as the New Year gets under way, it’s important to remember that overall health really begins with a healthy mouth, where food needs to be processed efficiently in order to achieve optimal results. And that means good teeth.
The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday. It is closed on Wednesdays and on weekends. Call 530-676-6500