CariFree – Cavity Prevention Program
CariFree is an advanced system of solutions used by Koeppel Dental Group to prevent tooth decay and effectively manage pH levels in the oral environment. Tooth decay, or cavities are caused by a bacterial infection on the teeth (biofilm). The CariFree system employs the use of advanced scientific technology to test for and identify the bacterial infection in the oral cavity. This allows Dr. Koeppel, director of Koeppel Dental Group, to treat the bacterial infection before it causes tooth decay.
What is a Cavity?
Cavities are holes that form in teeth because of lost enamel and tooth structure (biocorrosion). These holes are caused by an infection called dental caries. This infection occurs when the “good” bacteria in the mouth are replaced by “bad” bacteria (biofilm) that produce acid and demineralize teeth. Usually, teeth with cavities are treated by excavating the decayed area and filling it with a white composite or porcelain filling material. Sometimes the decay is so deep the tooth needs a root canal, crown or even extraction. But treating the decayed teeth is only treating the symptom of the bacterial infection.
Frequent dental cleanings and excellent homecare including brushing and flossing have been the prescription in the past for prevention of dental caries. But no solutions, until now, have ever been able to help change the pH balance in the oral environment or treat the infection once it exists.
What Causes Caries?
Many factors have an influence on the bacteria that live in the mouth. There are two main causes for caries and an over population of bad bacteria in the oral cavity.
The first is through transmission, so beware caries are contagious! You can be infected with caries through an exchange of saliva with another person who has an active caries infection.
The second is allowing a prolonged acidic environment (low oral pH balance) to take place. (See charts at bottom of page) The pH scale is how we measure acidity. The pH of a substance is measured in numbers 1 through 14. The lower the pH, the more acidic a substance is and the higher the pH, the more alkaline a substance is. So, the most acidic substance is a 1 on the pH scale, and the least acidic is a 14. For example, the pH of water is 7, which is considered neutral on the pH scale.
Contributors to a low pH may be a sugary/acidic diet and/or lack of saliva in the oral environment. Saliva is used as the body’s way of cleaning the teeth and protecting itself against caries. The absence of saliva often leaves one’s mouth very uncomfortable and extremely susceptible to decay.
Some are unfortunately born with a dry mouth and have always had inadequate or particularly sticky saliva. Dry mouth can also be caused by cancer treatment such as radiation and chemotherapy, genetic disorders such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and frequent mouth breathing. But the most common cause is use of one or more of the 3,000 medications that list dry mouth as a side effect.
Almost 90% of halitosis (bad breath) originates from the growth of anaerobic bacteria caused primarily by oral dryness. These bad bacteria usually grow on the back of the tongue and release sulfur compounds during their life cycles, which result in oral malodor.
Will Bonding, Veneers and Crowns Stop Decay?
Primarily, dental restorations are used to restore function to compromised teeth and to enhance the look of a smile. Each time a procedure must be redone due to improper technique or reinfection of decay, more and more original tooth structure gets removed during the process. So, the longevity of dental restorations directly affects the lifespan of the teeth.
Veneers, crowns and bondings will not decay but the natural tooth structure underneath and surrounding them is still at risk for reinfection. If the original restoration was placed due to a caries infection, the bacteria may still be present in the mouth if not carefully removed, or if the patient was not assessed for caries risk.
The Solution? CariFree.
Dr. Koeppel, director of Koeppel Dental Group, uses the CariScreen Test to measure the magnitude of harmful bacteria on your teeth. The CariScreen Test is quick, easy and performed in the comfort of Koeppel Dental Group! It takes less than a minute to determine if you are at a low, moderate, elevated risk or extreme high risk of developing cavities in the future. If the bacteria are found at an elevated level on your teeth, Dr. Koeppel will prescribe a personalized treatment plan to counteract them. The treatment usually consists of using a series of CariFree antibacterial mouth rinses to reduce the bacteria levels on your teeth and to restore a healthy pH balance. Once the regiment is started, we will retest the level of bacteria over time. Since risk factors change over time (diet, age and pH balance), it is recommended that you take the CariScreen test once per year.