New leadership, same goals for organization of committed and passionate oral health specialists.
Dental professionals understand the relationship between oral health and systemic health.
Many, however, have difficulty communicating the importance to patients. A number of years ago Patti DiGangi, RDH, BS, decided to do something about it. Patti believed dentistry was no longer about fixing teeth but involved oral medicine and understood that dental codes played an important part. As a clinician and industry thought leader, she presented continuing education programs, created Dental Codeology, the Dental Codeology Consortium and wrote several pocket books that helped shift dental professionals’ mindset to educate patients. The American Dental Association (ADA) recognized her expertise by inviting her to write chapters in the 2017 and 2018 ADA Current Dental Terminology Coding Companions. She holds publishing and speaking licenses from the ADA as well. Patti, along with fellow hygienists Patti Beeson, RDH, and Lindsey Hill, RDH, BS, created a company, Beyond Oral Health, a membership program designed for the health care specialist of tomorrow, the oral health specialist.
Mary Jane Hanlon, RDH, DMD, MPH, was introduced to Patti by her business partner, Mark LeBlanc. Dr Hanlon has a podcast The Women in Dentistry and LeBlanc felt that Patti would be a perfect guest for the show. “MJ” as Dr Hanlon is known, reached out to Patti and enjoyed recording her for the podcast. Shortly after the recording, Patti experienced her second stroke within 6 months. As Patti strives to solve problems, she regained her speech within a short period of time, but realized that she had to make changes to regain her strength and maintain her health. She began a quest for someone to take over Beyond Oral Health and reached out to
MJ. In addition to being a dentist, MJ began her career in dentistry working in her hometown of Franklin, Massachusetts, for an orthodontist. This fueled her interest in dentistry and she went on to dental hygiene school and practiced clinically for 15 years, earned an MBA, and is on faculty at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. MJ currently serves as the Massachusetts Dental Society President in addition to the podcast and her consulting company. Throughout her career, MJ has valued the entire team and partnerships within the profession. After discussing Beyond Oral Health, Patti and MJ felt that MJ would be a perfect fit for the company and they closed on the sale of the company at the end of December 2020. Patti still retains the Dental Codeology Consortium (DCC).
MJ was frustrated early in her career when she was prevented from providing Botox services to her patients while nurses who did not understand the muscles of mastication were allowed to provide the service. As a hygienist she worked for incredible clinicians who valued the hygienist as a partner in total patient care. Her discussions with patients center around their oral health while not just “fixing teeth.” Moving past the silos in dentistry for team members to collaborate to improve oral and systemic health for patients is one of her passions. Laying aside differences and aligning on vision, mission and goals, MJ would like to move dentistry towards an integrated medical practice where dental professionals can support the other specialties in medicine while providing benefit to patients.
While the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has forced many to make substantial changes with its many negatives, one positive outcome from COVID is that medicine and governments now recognize dentistry as an essential healthcare provider. The ADA created a policy that all states have adopted that clarifies the importance of oral health on systemic health while emphasizing the infection control protocols that were better than what was being followed in medicine in some instances. As the pandemic has progressed and it has become apparent that vaccines are available, dental professionals should be able to support our medical colleagues at the local level by providing vaccinations to patients depending on state rules and regulations. Now is the time for dentistry to move the needle on expanding our reach for the benefit of patients. Given MJ’s background and leadership both professionally and in organized dentistry, MJ is the perfect fit to educate others about Beyond Oral Health and its vision of educating the profession and beyond about oral health.
Beyond dentistry, MJ is a creative person seeing gaps where they exist and working to close them. Her consulting company is a result of identifying problems or gaps she has witnessed. Personally, photography, exercise and remaining healthy are personal pleasures. Photographing the beauty of early morning sunrises or late afternoon sunsets are creative outlets for her. Her partner, Steve, makes her smile and laugh daily, even during the difficult times. She lives in Maine but travels to Boston for work and to visit her grandchildren, Gavin who is 2 ½ and Avery who is 2 months old. A week wouldn’t be complete without “Mimi” time as Gavin calls it. Other than being a mom, being “Mimi” is the best job in the world.
MJ considers herself an educator, mentor and entrepreneur. The same could be said about Patti. The synergy that both have in their thoughts, passions and goals make MJ the perfect person to become the leader of Beyond Oral Health and she is committed and passionate about continuing the work that Patti has begun.
For more information about Beyond Oral Health or Dental Codeology, visit beyondoralhealth.com.