Dental Dreams president aims to help patients in underserved communities
Driven by a deep yearning to serve families in underserved communities, Dr. Sameera Hussain launched Dental Dreams in 2001 in Aurora, Illinois.
Since then, the company has grown tremendously to 65 locations in 11 states – 18 of which are in Illinois – and more than 1,300 employees.
More than 250 dentists are employed by Dental Dreams. Serving as president, Hussain oversees the medical practice of each of the dentists. Her husband, attorney Khurram Hussain, serves as the CEO of KOS Services, a management company that handles the administration of the business operations for Dental Dreams. He is also the owner of a successful immigration law firm, Hussain, Egan & Bendersky in Chicago.
“I was very fortunate to have strong and inspiring role models,” Hussain told the DuPage Policy Journal. “Each of my parents helped to shape my path. My mother was a pediatrician and her interest in caring for children and families was a key to helping me choose not just my career path but also the individuals that I most wanted to serve in my career.”
Hussain said she opted for dentistry over a career as a physician because she wanted to be able to provide valuable medical services without always being on call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
“I certainly work very hard as a dentist and as a company executive, but I also have time for my three sons, and enjoy being part of their lives and activities,” she said.
Hussain was drawn to serving patients in underserved communities because she knew the significant role quality dental care played in a person’s life and found it gratifying to help patients.
“When I saw the opportunity to take that model on a larger scale, and to help those most in need, it was a great fit for me,” she said. “Now, I'm extremely blessed to be able to help thousands of patients across our 65 offices in 11 states. Helping people is why I got into dentistry and now I can help many more people than when I started.”
But providing such an essential service to patients in underserved communities has its challenges, Hussain acknowledged.
“With our economy limping along, it is disheartening to see dental needs going unmet in communities that are economically challenged," she said. "Simply put, people without means often consider dental care a luxury and put it off as long as possible. By bringing our offices into those communities, fortunately, we have been able to make inroads in meeting those needs."
While Dental Dreams has impacted a great number of people, Hussain said there is still a lot more that needs to be done.
“We need to educate the families about the benefits of dental care and state governments that covering children and adults under Medicaid actually saves states money over the long term and makes for healthier communities,” she said.
Choosing the path less trodden has brought Hussain immeasurable joy, which in turn motivates her and her team, and provides a sense of purpose. She often uses the intangible reward her work provides as a selling point to attracting idealistic dentists to work with her.
“There certainly are greener pastures elsewhere, if money is the only consideration,” Hussain said. “But we have found that dentists who make the plunge to help others where it is needed most derive a great degree of satisfaction at seeing the great joy they bring to the children and parents of families in economically challenged neighborhoods.”
The work Hussain does every day feeds her passion, which is helping people, particularly young people.
“To see a young boy or girl smile for the first time in weeks, months or even years is priceless," she said. "And to see their parents smile too is an added bonus. We are dedicated to the mission of bringing quality dental care into all neighborhoods and to all families. Sometimes it is an uphill fight, but the rewards last a lifetime. We know from talking to our patients that every procedure we provide is vitally necessary and makes a difference in their lives. That is our motivator every single day.”