About Us

Oral Health Needs Index

The OHNI is an interactive mapping tool developed to sustain online resources that enables and supports meaningful use of oral health data to achieve oral health equity for all populations. The OHNI project focuses on achieving oral health equity through increased data availability, capacity building, visualization, utilization and dissemination. All, the while, using mapping as the art of storytelling.

Our Vision
To develop and sustain an online resource that enables and supports meaningful use of oral health data to achieve oral health equity for all populations.

Our Goals

The project aims to reduce disparities in access, availability, and adequacy of oral health care services and outcomes. For equitable oral health outcomes to be possible, a data-driven, evidence-based ecosystem for oral health care policies and programs is essential. The OHNI project contributes to this ecosystem by creating and disseminating an easy to access, oral health focused, online Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based tool that allows users to turn complex data sets into maps and other easy-to-use visualizations. Moreover, this data tool will be supported with evidence based training resources and community driven interventions to improve development and enhancement of the tool and ultimately increased use of data and proven best practices in identifying and eliminating oral health disparities.

Our key goals, include:

      • Develop and facilitate collaboration,
      • Increase and improve access to meaningful data and resources to address oral health disparities,
      • Engage users to promote understanding of data utilization,
      • Implement a user driven evaluation process to increase impact of data accessibility
      • Build capacity for oral health data collection and utilization
      • Achieve oral health equity through research and data.



Despite their importance in understanding population health, many oral health measures are not included in reports due to lack of availability, fragmentation, non-integration of oral health indicators, and/or non-integration of determinants of health and social justice concerns. This is further complicated by the existing gap in oral health data and lack of effective visualization methods to understand and address the need from a systems-thinking perspective.

We identify and address overall oral health measurement needs to be:

      • Identify and assess current and future data needs
      • Identify exiting data sources
      • Disseminate findings and resources from existing data sources
      • Assist organizations and communities with data collections and utilization
      • Innovate and share methods to collect local level data in a cost-effective manner
      • Provide recommendations for new data collection
      • Develop partnerships to improve standardization and the usefulness of data for oral health improvement and ultimately achieve health equity



 Our Team

Cherry Houston, PhD, MPH, RN
President and CEO
Critical Learning Systems, Inc.
Wansoo Im, PhD
Data Manager, Associate Professor,
Department of Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine
Ankit Sanghavi, BDS, MPH
Executive Director of Texas Health Institute


The OHNI project is funded by the DentaQuest Foundation and is led by the Critical Learning Systems, Inc. Critical Learning Systems, Inc. CLS is a national 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization centered on health equity and social justice whose mission is to promote healthy communities through collaborations and partnerships. CLS provided the initial concept, submission, management, direction, and secured funding to design the OHNI project for years 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 from the DentalQuest Foundation. CLS, under the direction of Cherry Houston, PhD, MPH, RN, has over 40 years of experience in leading, managing, and facilitating programs and projects at the local, state, regional, national, and international level.