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OHNI PROJECT

‘The Oral Health Needs Index is designed to be an easy to access, place-based analytic tool with resources that links environmental and social determinants of health, health behaviors, and healthcare access to oral health outcomes.’

In spite of the safe and effective means of maintaining oral health that have benefited the majority of Americans over the past half century, many among us still experience needless pain and suffering, complications that devastate overall health and well-being, and financial and social costs that diminish the quality of life and burden American society. What amounts to ‘a silent epidemic’ of oral diseases is affecting our most vulnerable citizens-poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic groups.”

-Rueben C. Warren – Professor of Bioethics, Tuskegee University

The preceding quotation highlights a serious health challenge that has persisted for decades. Maintaining good oral health requires far more than simply providing care. Consequently, oral health and oral healthcare are interdependent and impacted by three important elements: availability (suitable or ready to use), accessibility (able to be used, entered, or reached) and/or acceptability (meeting only minimum requirements). These three elements are of great importance because undeserved populations are disproportionally impacted by oral diseases; disparities with consequences that are exacerbated by a lack of data much less meaningful access to it.

The Institute of Medicine defines public health as “what we as a society do to collectively assure the conditions in which people can be healthy.”1

There is growing recognition of the link between social determinants of health, including social, economic, and environmental conditions, and health outcomes. With respect to oral health, there is burgeoning evidence that health insurance inequalities, cultural norms, income, limited access to healthy foods, unemployment, and transportation are among the social determinants that have a particular impact on access to oral health care and care-seeking behaviors.2 READ MORE

The Oral Health Needs Index is designed to be an easy to access, place-based analytic tool with resources that links environmental and social determinants of health, health behaviors, and healthcare access to oral health outcomes. By examining the provided data and resources users can determine area where resources and services are most needed and uncover hidden patterns and correlations which can then be addressed leading to improved access to care, utilization, and outcomes. Thus, reducing oral health disparities.