UNDATED -- The stay at home order to fight the coronavirus is still in effect, but Governor Tim Walz intends to loosen restrictions on elective procedures in Minnesota.

In his Tuesday afternoon update, Walz said elective medical and dental surgeries and procedures will be allowed to resume next week. Walz did not specify which day.

The decision could change recent standard operating procedure for Minnesota's dentists. Dr. Amber Cziok, a Litchfield-based general dentist and the Vice President of the Minnesota Dental Association, says Executive Order 20-09, issued by Walz in March, suspended all non-emergency dental procedures.

"The procedures that have been avoided include routine fillings," Cziok said. "Most of those have been put off, unless they are very deep and close to the nerve, causing pain. Most dental hygiene, or what we think of as dental cleanings, were put off, mainly to preserve that PPE."

Cziok says dentists have been allowed to treat patients dealing with problems that can propagate into more serious concerns over time.

"Our main goal was to keep people out of emergency rooms," Cziok said. "That's where there is a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. It also creates a situation that is more taxing to healthcare workers."

Cziok says any patient facing serious concerns, such as pain caused by infection or a broken tooth, should call their dentist before the problem escalates. She says, even if your dentist cannot treat you, they can triage the situation and point you toward a clinic that will.

"If you have a problem than concerns you, please reach out," Cziok stressed. "they can determine, most likely over the phone, if it's something that you need to be seen for."

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