Every dental office in Hardin County will be shut down for everything but emergency procedures beginning Thursday. The American Dental Association, the Iowa Dental Association and the Iowa Dental Board have called for a three-week hiatus on any elective dentistry due to the threat of COVID-19.

While most offices had already taken extra precautions, such as removing toys and magazines from their lobbies, the risk of commuting the virus was still too high.

"This decision was not made lightly," Dr. Bryn Johnson of Iowa River Dentistry said in a statement. "We love our jobs, we love our patients, and we love the communities we serve. Believe us when we say we do not want to take a month-long vacation from seeing your smiles in our office. Some may think that closing down our daily operations is overkill, but I would much rather look back on this experience and say, 'I’m glad we did' instead of 'I wish we would have.'"

For now, some offices are planning to reopen on different dates than others, but they each made clear emergency services will be available by calling the normal office number. Information can also be found on each office's individual Facebook page or website.

“We are in the process of rescheduling and if there isn’t someone here to answer your call our answering machine will direct you to a dentist if you have an emergency situation,” said Dr. Quinn Hoversten of Hoversten-Colwell-Hoversten Dentistry. “Pain, swelling, interference with sleep or daily life – the urgent things. We will be in town and be more than happy to help out.”

A representative from each office confirmed that they're contacting patients with appointments over the next few weeks via telephone, e-mail or text message, but anyone with questions should call.

When offices do reopen, which could change based on the situation on the ground, extra precautions will be implemented.

“The dentistry end of it when you’re being seen and being treated doesn’t really change much," Hoversten said. "Our universal precautions already are prepared to deal with any (sterility) issues, but we are trying to limit the number of people in the waiting room. When we are seeing people we’ll try to keep crowds down and sterilize other areas that we don’t usually clean as often and take the needed precautions.”

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