CariVu – The Truth of the Tooth

Patients trust me to know everything about keeping them in great dental health. While I can’t know everything, technology helps me to strive for that goal. For imaging, I have a DEXIS™ dental digital radiography system with DEXIS™ Platinum sensors to capture great images and DEXIS go™ to transfer those images to iPad® tablets to help me communicate better with patients. As I always search for more ways to increase my diagnostic efficiency, the CariVu™ was just what my practice needed to improve my accuracy in caries detection.


CariVu delivers highly accurate information*

I realized in my years of practicing dentistry that the radiograph, a two-dimensional image of a tooth, is limiting for caries detection since the thickness of the patients’ teeth vary. If a carious lesion has grown in the middle of the tooth, for example, with an X-ray we may be able to capture the lesion at the moment when it has destroyed sufficient thickness of tooth structure. Sometimes though, it has not reached that point, so it remains hidden.

For detecting hidden caries, sometimes I need more, and now I have it! CariVu uses a patented transillumination technology to identify occlusal, interproximal, and recurrent carious lesions and cracks even in the early stages. As a result of bathing the tooth in the near-infrared light, the enamel is transparent while caries appears dark. My ability to “peek inside the tooth” and identify caries in this way lets me give my patients a highly accurate diagnostic experience.

The device is so simple to use — patients don’t feel any discomfort, there is absolutely no ionizing radiation, and the best reward is an image, similar in appearance to an X-ray, that can verify tooth health. CariVu offers a way of discovering the presence of caries with a level of accuracy* and yielding an image that no other technology can provide.

I trust the research by DEXIS, a much-respected company in our industry. But, to my colleagues, I say that there is nothing better than using it and discovering the accuracy yourself. For a comprehensive look at patients’ teeth, a radiograph, a transilluminated image and an intraoral photo are a great combination. For example, I recently screened a patient during a routine examination. While visual exam, intraoral photograph, and radiograph did not reveal caries, the CariVu found interproximal caries. We moved forward with restorative treatment.

On another patient, I used CariVu to verify a cavity on a specific tooth. While checking that tooth, I found another cavity on the adjacent tooth that would have not been visible on the X-ray. When I showed the patient the additional cavity, she was amazed and grateful to catch it early. CariVu, in these cases and many others since then, made me a better dentist and a better diagnostician. What better feeling is there than that?

*Data on file with DEXIS, LLC

Dr. Brattesani has no financial interests in DEXIS, LLC.

Originally published in Sidekick Magazine.

About the Author: Dr. Cynthia Brattesani owns a private practice in San Francisco where she implemented digital X-ray more than six years ago. She was awarded the prestigious ADA Golden Apple New Dentist Leadership Award in 1996. An enthusiastic member of organized dentistry, she has held positions at the local, state, and national levels. Dr. Brattesani is a graduate of the University of California at San Francisco, School of Dentistry. You may reach her at