Shining a Light on Hidden Caries

By John Flucke, DDS

DEXIS® CariVu™

Anyone who knows me knows I love exploring and using dental technology. I enjoy evaluating new products and figuring out how they can help clinicians offer better patient care. That’s why I eagerly jumped on the opportunity to be one of the first dentists to use the DEXIS® CariVu™ caries detection device.

This exciting new product from DEXIS uses a unique, patented transillumination technology that has been in development for years. The manufacturer has greatly improved on the somewhat clunky form of the original unit and completely redesigned the product to incorporate the infrared light source into a modern, lightweight handpiece. The tips have been remodeled to be softer, more comfortable, and autoclavable.

The result of this innovative redesign is a system that is portable, easy to use, and very effective at locating and giving a visual of the shape and size of the carious lesion. And it gets better. CariVu images are captured and stored within the DEXIS® digital imaging software. They can be easily compared, side-by-side, to existing radiographs and intra-oral camera images for comprehensive diagnostic support.

While CariVu can locate a variety of carious lesions and cracks, I was impressed with the way it helps identify decay when an X-ray may not be able to deliver this information. We’ve all faced a situation where a patient has an existing restoration that’s beginning to deteriorate—the one where there’s subtle color and translucency change in the surrounding enamel, but the explorer doesn’t catch it. The radiograph doesn’t show the possible caries because it’s blocked by a restoration. You have to make the decision to watch the area or restore. In these cases, the CariVu image can help you make a better treatment decision.

For example, veneers can block our view of caries on X-rays. When I first started using CariVu, I came upon a case where a patient had a veneered first premolar. I thought the mesial looked suspicious, but the veneer blocked the view of the area on the X-ray. I took a CariVu image, and the decay made itself known.

While I can see myself using CariVu to evaluate occlusal and interproximal caries and even cracks to determine a course of treatment, I think it’s extremely useful for those recurrent decay situations. It can literally shine a light on “hidden” carious lesions.

Disclaimer: Dr. Flucke evaluated CariVu for DEXIS; he has no financial interests in DEXIS, LLC.

Originally published in Sidekick Magazine