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Dr. Andrew Tonelli

Local Dentist Recognized for Volunteer Efforts

Massachusetts Dental Society Announces 2023 William McKenna Volunteer Hero

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.—August 15, 2023—The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) and the Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society are pleased to announce Andrew Tonelli, DMD, as the 2023 William McKenna Volunteer Hero. A long-time volunteer for the MDS, Dr. Tonelli was recently the spokesperson for the Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits Committee. This Committee was created by the MDS and the American Dental Association (ADA) to inform Massachusetts voters about “Voting Yes on Question 2” in the 2022 Massachusetts state election. Sharing his knowledge on the issue was a key factor in the landslide victory at the ballot box, which also cleared the way for states across the country to pursue the adoption of this first in-the-country dental insurance reform.

Dr. Tonelli began volunteering for the MDS as a member of the Government Affairs Committee and worked his way up to being the co-chair of the Committee. He became more involved when he recognized that insurers were operating with minimal oversight and had begun erecting more barriers than bridges to quality dental care in Massachusetts. Recognizing that this might erode quality of care over time while also narrowing the pathways to practice ownership for young dentists, Dr. Tonelli decided to become more involved.  “You want the policies that impact the profession to benefit patients and make sense,” he said. The 2022 Massachusetts state ballot question did just that—benefited patients and impacted the profession. Question 2 requires dental insurers to be more transparent to patients by ensuring that 83% of the premiums they pay are spent on care, with any excess premium refunded to the patient. 

As the spokesperson for the Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits Committee, Dr. Tonelli said that dealing with the media during that time was an “eye-opening” and challenging experience. He and the “Yes on 2” Committee felt momentum turn before the election when the Boston Globe published an editorial recognizing that dental insurers should be held to the same standard as medical insurers and a percentage of premium dollars should go to care. “Seeing the power and effectiveness of organized dentistry rallying around this cause was really heartening,” states Tonelli.

Since 1996, the MDS and the Journal have recognized member dentists who have dedicated their enthusiasm, talents, and time to the MDS and organized dentistry as the William McKenna Volunteer Heroes. This recognition, named in honor of the late Dr. William McKenna—one of the founders of the Yankee Dental Congress and a model of volunteerism within the Society—is the Society’s way of thanking those members who go above and beyond to help the MDS achieve its goals, inspire colleagues, and advance the dental profession.

Dr. Tonelli’s volunteer efforts had a positive impact on the Massachusetts Dental Society and organized dentistry as a whole. The passage of insurance reform in Massachusetts opened the door for organized dentistry to back similar reform in other states. By sharing his voice on the issue, Dr. Tonelli helped band together organized dentistry in Massachusetts. As a result of his efforts, dentists from across the country now realize that they have the power to make change happen if they speak up and take a stand.  


The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS), a professional association representing 5,000-plus member dentists and a statewide constituent of the American Dental Association, is dedicated to the professional development of its member dentists through initiatives in education, advocacy, the promotion of the highest professional standards, and championing oral health in the Commonwealth. For more information, visit, and follow the MDS on Twitter @MassDental.