CariFree is a product used in our office to lower a patient's risk of getting cavities. It was developed by a company called Oral Biotech. The people at this company realized that cavities are the end product of a bacterial problem, and the only way to prevent the formation of new cavities is to identify and deal with the bacterial issues. When a dentist places a filling in a tooth they are only repairing the damage that has been done by the bacteria. If we do not reduce the amounts of cavity causing bacteria in a persons mouth they will just develop more cavities in the future. This is why we see some patients who never develop cavities, yet others have a new cavity at every check-up.
Researchers have found that there are several hundred types of bacteria which are normally found in the human mouth, and a small handful of them are responsible for cavities. People who have high levels of these bacteria in their mouths are at a much higher risk of developing cavities. Most of these people already have had cavities and lots of dental work to repair the damage done to their teeth, so if you have had a lot of dental work done to your teeth, you definitely have have levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth and need to be on the CariFree system.
Researchers also find people whose teeth are in good shape, but still have high levels of cavity causing bacteria in their mouths. These people's mouths are like ticking time bombs, and have the potential to develop cavities rapidly. There are several factors which can affect the formation of cavities, with bacteria being the most important one. Other factors include diet and sugar intake, dental hygiene, salivary function and medications. A person with high levels of cavity causing bacteria who takes excellent care of their teeth, has good saliva flow in their mouths and avoids sugars may not develop cavities, but if their hygiene should slip or a new medication inteferes with their saliva flow they may start developing cavities at an alarming rate because the bacteria have been there all along waiting for an opprtunity to start making cavities. We see this a lot in our older patients who have recently started taking medications for blood pressure or cholesterol levels which have the unfortunate side affect of decreasing saliva flow in the mouth. Our saliva is designed to neutralize the acids made by bacteria, and if that saliva is decreased these acids can accumulate to levels high enough to start cavity formation. Within a few months of taking a new medication we have seen patients who have always been cavity free start to develop decay on almost every tooth.
The CariFree system was designed to identify high levels of cavity causing bacteria and to decrease and hopefully eradicate these bacteria. It is extremely important to identify people with high levels of harmful bacteria and treat them before any damage occurs to their teeth. There is really no substitute for a healthy tooth and even the best fillings, onlays and crowns will not last forever.
We first use the CariFree meter test to measure the levels of cavity causing bacteria in a person's mouth. If we see a patient already has a lot of cavities then we sometimes skip the meter test and have them go straight into the treatment phase of CariFree since it is obvious that the bacteria are present. The test takes about a minute and gives us a number which is representative to the levels of harmful bacteria present. Anything over 1500 is considered high and needs to be treated. The best thing about this test is that it can tell us if a patient who has not had cavities before is truly a low risk to developing future cavities, or if they have harmful bacteria lurking in their mouth just waiting for an opportunity to create cavities.
Once we have determined that someone needs to be on CariFree, we give them a set of take home mouthrinses. The first rinse is called the Treatment Rinse, and is used for two weeks. This rinse is a strong antiseptic and is designed to reduce the levels of all the bacteria in the mouth.
The Maintenence Rinse is used next. This rinse is designed to keep the PH level of the mouth high enough to prevent the harmful bacteria from becoming re-established. It is used on a daily basis, and is to be used until we get consistently low meter readings for at least one year.
Bacteria of all types live in and around our body, as they do throughout our entire planet. They have been on Earth much longer than people have and are extremely good at adapting to change and finding places to live. This is why the CariFree treatment is not a one shot treatment, but rather a lifelong maintenence program which needs to be done whenever harmful bacteria levels start rising. It is also important to remember that even if we eliminate the harmful bacteria in a person's mouth, it is easy to acquire them again from a spouse or significant other who has cavities.