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Impact Mobile Dental Services, the community outreach program founded by Dr Rand Younes at 17 years of age, is about to go national. By Frank Leggett
Dr Rand Younes, owner of Smile Collective Dental Couture in the Sydney south-west suburb of Roselands, exuberantly embraces community engagement. While she’s kept busy with her growing dental practice, she finds time to run Impact Mobile Dental Services (IMDS) which provides dental care and education to children and vulnerable communities. Dr Younes is also a sought-after motivational speaker and has recently launched a new initiative called Dream Smiles that incorporates oral and mental health for children with lessons about values, goal setting and life skills. Dr Younes is only 24 years old.
Her first community engagement program was initiated when studying dentistry at Charles Sturt University. The ambition to create and operate such a program, however, was evident from a very early age. Dr Younes immigrated to Australia with her parents from Palestine when she was nearly 12 years old. When she arrived with no English language skills, school was a real struggle. While attending Liverpool Girls High School, she decided she wanted to be a dentist, but her grades weren’t nearly good enough.
“My dad’s favourite quote was from Nelson Mandela,” recalls Dr Younes. “‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ I took that to heart and began to study hard. I told myself I would get an ATAR of 98 and be in the top five per cent of the state for my HSC. By approaching my exams one at a time, I started surprising myself.”
Dr Younes came second in the state in HSC English, was dux of her school and achieved an ATAR of 99. In 2016, at the age of 17, she began studying dentistry at Charles Sturt. She attended dental school in the rural NSW town of Orange and during her four-month-long summer break, Dr Younes formulated an educational dental program that would eventually become IMDS.
Birth of IMDS
“I was only 17, so I was too young to register it as a business or to drive a car,” says Dr Younes. “I would catch a bus or my mum would drive me to schools and childcare centres where I would present my oral health care program. It was all based around my belief that prevention is key to effective oral health.”
Today, Dr Younes manages a team of dentists and dental professionals working for IMDS. Its mission is to impact on the lives of Australians by educating people about oral hygiene and preventing dental disease. It operates in most major cities and there is a rural outreach program.
“Our education program is tailored to specific ages,” says Dr Younes. “We have dentists and oral health therapists who speak at childcare centres and schools. We have professionals speaking at aged care residential facilities educating both the residents and their nurses. It’s all about how to look after your teeth coupled with advice on healthy eating habits. The other arm of the program is to provide preventive dental care.”
This includes a check-up every six months and undertaking any urgent dental work that needs to be done. IMDS gets a lot of emergencies from the residents at aged care centres. While the program started in Sydney, it’s rapidly expanding nationally.
“I was in Darwin recently and am heading to Queensland soon,” says Dr Younes. “There are pilot pop-up programs in Tasmania and I’m also travelling to some regional towns. While the aim of the program is to help people living in areas with no access to dentists, there’s also a great demand among vulnerable communities in Sydney and Melbourne. IMDS is needed in the cities as much as it is needed in rural areas.”
After graduating in 2020, Dr Younes worked in private practices as well as ran a mobile dental clinic. She wanted to be mentored by a dentist with the skills, outlook and empathy that matched her own.
“I was having difficulty finding the right mentor and the right work environment,” says Dr Younes. “When I mentioned it in passing to my coach at my Crossfit gym, he introduced me to Dr John Wells. We became Crossfit buddies and he invited me to visit his practice, Simply Beautiful Smiles in Penrith, NSW. John provides high-end quality dentistry in an unstressed environment and his patients love him. He became my mentor and I wanted to run a practice based on his model.”
Dr Younes jumped in at the deep end. In 2022, she took possession of an empty floor of a building and started the process of setting up a practice from scratch. There were no walls, no plumbing, minimal electrical and just one big dream. The Smile Collective Dental Couture opened its doors 10 weeks later with Dr John Wells on board as its consultant smile doctor and referral partner for implant dentistry.
“When we opened in July 2022, it was an emotional moment for me,” says Dr Younes. “It was almost like I was a mother giving birth to a child. I posted a video of our opening on TikTok and it blew up, gaining 300,000 views very quickly. I think it was popular because people can see how emotional and exciting the journey was for me. That TikTok video certainly aided in building our client base rapidly.”
Dr Younes has always undertaken motivational speaking and has now incorporated that into a new arm of IMDS. The recently launched Dream Smiles is an extension of the work that IMDS has been doing with children and school students. It still includes oral health lessons and preventative dental care but has added motivational talks to help children find their gift and nurture it.
“We explain that you don’t necessarily have to achieve perfect marks at school or go to uni or excel at sport,” says Dr Younes. “But it’s in your own interest to work towards becoming the best version of yourself you can be.
“We have a number of age-appropriate courses but it’s been very useful and well received by year 11 and 12 students. They are essentially blank canvases. While we don’t always get to choose our colours, we can still make a beautiful painting with whatever we are handed.”
Practice owner, motivational speaker, founder of multiple community outreach programs; it’s hard to believe that Dr Younes is still only 24 years old. Her desire to do good and help people has been at the centre of everything she has done.
“I think my greatest achievement is the person I’ve become along this journey,” she says. “I’ve made friends with some amazing individuals and had an impact on people’s lives. It makes me so happy to see children who are excited to visit the dentist. It’s an honour to help patients leave my practice with a whole new smile. I recently gave a 55-year-old patient her dream smile and the improvement in her confidence and happiness was wonderful. That’s why I love being a dentist.”
Dr Younes believes there is a need for dental education to be presented in an exciting way and she has a five-year plan to see IMDS become a national program in schools. With ‘prevention is key’ at the heart of her philosophy, she wants nothing less than effective oral healthcare implemented as a routine part of people’s daily lives.
“When my parents emigrated to Australia 13 years ago, it was a struggle,” says Dr Younes. “Neither of my parents could find work in their chosen fields. I wanted to make them proud and show them that they did the right thing. I’ve made the most of the opportunities Australia offered and have given back to society. And I’m going to continue doing just that.”