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Tooth decay, called dental caries, is caused when bacteria in the mouth eats away the enamel of the tooth. That enamel is the tooth’s protective outer layer, so when it is breached, the tooth is prone to the development of a cavity and other even more serious problems. In the ongoing battle against dental caries, Edgewater Pediatric Dentistry is proud to add a new diagnostic tool — the CariVu Caries Detection System — to our practice.

What is CariVu?

CariVu is a highly advanced device used to detect dental caries. This compact, portable device uses patented transillumination technology to effectively identifiy occlusions and interproximal or recurrent lesions and cracks caused by tooth decay. CariVu creates images that we capture and store with our patients’ X-rays and other history.

How does CariVu work?

The CariVu system utilizes a nimble handpiece that the dentist can manipulate as needed around the individual teeth. The handpiece has lights on two sides that surround the tooth. The light used is near-infrared which, in images, displays the healthy natural enamel and tooth as transparent. The caries attract the light and show up as very dark areas. These images can be likened to X-ray images, where dark areas in the film signify lesions. One advantage of CariVu over other fluorescent imaging mechanisms is that CariVu does not need the tooth to be clean of bacteria.

When is CariVu used in the detection of dental caries?

The first step in our examination is taking an X-ray of the patient’s entire bite. If the X-rays shows any suspicious areas that could be harboring decay we opt to get a second opinion with the CariVu system. Why is this necessary? A study from the UCLA School of Dentistry found that the presence of caries was missed up to 40 percent of the time. And 20 percent of the time, healthy teeth were misdiagnosed as having decay. This two tier exam protocol lets us confidently identify if there is a need for additional monitoring of the tooth or an immediate intervention.

The key here is early detection of any decay, and at Edgewater Pediatric we feel the CariVu system gives us an edge.