This year, Dr. Kevin Swenson finally realized his 26-year dream. On Thursday, he got a chance to show it off to the people of Emporia.
The public got its first good look at the brand-new Emporia Dental at its open house on a scorching-hot Thursday afternoon. Although the new facility — located at 601 North Main St. — already held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in April and has been accepting patients for months, this was the first chance many had to see the new facility up-close.
“It’s been in the plans for about 10 years, and I just never saw the opportune time to do it,” said Swenson. “Now that it’s here, it is a dream come true and we’re able to provide the highest level of dental services for our community.”
Swenson has been practicing dentistry in the town since 1996, when he opened his old practice next to the Emporia Shopping Center.
According to Swenson’s wife, Kelly — who serves as the office manager — the new facility was a gleam in Kevin’s eye for a long time.
“Dr. Swenson and I both turned 50 last year,” said Kelly. “He has always talked about and dreamt about having a beautiful facility where he could offer state-of-the-art technology and care in a rural community like ours in Emporia.”
“When we turned 50 we talked about it and said, ‘Okay, we’re getting a little older, so we either need to move forward with the dream…or to decide to not do that.’ He pretty much said, ‘Let’s go.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 threw the Swensons’ ambitions for a loop. They were just about to begin design and construction and already had local firm Slate and Spivey lined up as contractors.
“We put [Slate] on hold for six months during the pandemic,” said Kelly. “Then we gave him the go-ahead to continue once we realized the pandemic was still going to go on for quite some time.”
Remia Moore of Lillian’s Rentals, located across Main Street, was in charge of the open house festivities. Rather ironically for the opening of a dentist’s office, visitors could help themselves to free popcorn, lemonade, barbecue, and potato chips outside the building. From the outside, it smelled more like the opening of a movie theater than a dental practice.
“Out with the old, in with the new” was the theme of the open house. The first thing many visitors saw when they walked in was a large flat-screen TV which displayed a presentation on the history Swenson’s dental practice.
Kelly and the rest of Emporia Dental’s staff ushered guests around the building, showing off many of the technological advancements in dentistry now available to patients that were not previously available at the old Swenson practice.
One of those advancements is the “Solea” CO2 laser machine, which can fill cavities without the need for a needle and drill, as well as reduce snoring by treating the soft palate which vibrates during sleep.
“That thing is a game-changer. Not a lot of dentists have that,” said Kelly. “We just did it on two-thirds of our staff and they have had an 85% improvement with less snoring.”
As for the old building across the street? According to Mrs. Swenson, the site of the old practice is now up for sale.