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By: Dr. Jacques Doueck

When I look into new technology I ask myself, “How will this benefit my patients, and am I really going to use it?” Radiation Free CariVu™ caught my attention and I started to do my homework.

When I first heard about CariVu™ Radiation-free digital imaging I was skeptical. But the results were really impressive. This unique diagnostic tool looks like a small wand.  It bathes the teeth in safe infrared light, which makes the enamel appear transparent, while porous lesions (these include cavities or cracks in the teeth) trap and absorb the light, making them show up darker.  The DEXIS CariVu™ allows the dentist to see through the tooth, exposing its structure and the actual structure of any cavity with very high accuracy. Research has shown a 99% accuracy rate in finding cavities.

Patients like the fact that the image of the CariVu™ looks like the familiar dental X-ray image. Cavities will appear as dark areas. The dentist can quickly compare the x-ray and CariVu™ images side-by-side on the computer to make a diagnosis and decide on a course of treatment. These images can be printed and sent to the insurance company or shared with patients so that they may better understand the need for preventive or restorative care.

About 10 years ago most dentists switched from traditional X-rays to digital X-rays. This was a major step forward. The benefits of digital x-rays for the patient were amazing.  Digital X-rays use 90% less radiation, they are visible instantly on a big screen, and it is even possible to email the digital X-rays. CariVu™ radiation-free digital imaging is a giant leap forward, and is truly a game changer.

Another advantage of CariVu™ is that it helps us verify what we may be seeing with an X-ray or the intraoral camera, but we are not 100 per cent certain of what it is that we are seeing. If we identify a suspicious area on an X-ray (it is especially difficult to detect cavities between teeth, for example) my “second opinion” can be a CariVu™ image. This tool reveals the extent of the condition, and helps me to confidently determine whether what I see just needs monitoring over time, or requires immediate treatment.

While X-rays are the only way to look below the gumline and in the bone, CariVu™ is the state-of-the-art method for detecting cavities and defects “above the gumline.” It shows a lot of info that you wouldn’t get any other way. For example it shows us crack lines which are just NOT visible on an X-ray.

CariVu™ is a major tool in our tool box. Because it uses infrared light - it’s nothing more than light - there is NO RADIATION. It’s safe even for pregnant women.

When we treat three year olds, for example, it’s difficult to take x-rays. Little ones find the plastic X-ray tabs (which hold the film) uncomfortable.  CariVu™ fits inside the mouth easily, and it’s comfortable for use even in the smallest mouth. What’s more, the kids and adults are fascinated to watch their teeth right on the screen as we examine their teeth.

CariVu™   is one of those technologies that allows me to be a better dentist, and a big plus is that patients like it too. You can see things that you couldn’t see before. We cannot get this kind of imaging in any other technology.CariVu™ has the capability to examine the structure around metallic fillings and can detect early decay. I can also look under white composite fillings with this device to see if there is decay. Because I can literally see through the tooth, I can predictably know whether I am going to find a surprise.

X-rays are a critical tool in every dental practice. CariVu™ complements that tool and makes me a better at diagnosis. We can’t get this kind of imaging with any other technology.  A crack line which is not visible on X-ray will show up clearly with CariVu.

In every dental office four “checkup” X-rays are taken once a year. Today we can alternate X-rays at one checkup and 6 months later use the CariVu™.  The concept of “watching” a tooth now takes on a new meaning. We are not just waiting to see major damage – now we can view and save digital images of “small changes.” This way we can compare the digital images over time and treat small problems more easily and with less expense and NO RADIATION.