Caries (tooth decay) is a major oral disease, which contributes to mouth pain and tooth loss. Hartwell Dentistry is committed to reducing and preventing caries. Scientific research has found that CariFree to be an excellent product to use as an adjunct to regular dental appointments and home care to help with your oral health.


What is caries?

Teeth have a matrix of bacteria – called the biofilm, which covers the tooth. This biofilm is made of “good” bacteria and “bad” (caries-causing) bacteria. Caries (more commonly called “decays”) are cavities, or “holes” which are formed in your teeth as a result of bacterial infection or imbalance. Caries-causing bacteria tend to thrive in a dental environment, which is low in pH (and therefore acidic). As more “bad” bacteria forms, less “good” bacteria are present. The acidic nature of the biofilm causes minerals to be lost until eventually a cavity formed.


Risk factors for decay include:


  • Sugar in our diet: whenever we eat or drink anything the mouth naturally increases in acid. The saliva then works at decreasing the acid and protecting the teeth. Whenever a juice, soft drink or sugar containing food is ingested, research has shown it takes up to 6 hours for the mouth to get back to normal. If constant snacking and drinking of sugar laden foods occurs, the mouth will be in a constant state of acidic attack and therefore more likely to have caries. The modern diet is full of hidden sugars.
  • Dry mouth: saliva has many parts, which help with digestion, protecting the body from harmful microbes, pH buffering and remineralising of the teeth. Remineralisation and pH buffering is something that we are very interested in as this can prevent dental decay. Remineralisation is the process where if minerals have been drawn out from the enamel, the saliva then works at replacing these minerals. Salivary pH buffering helps prevent the mouth becoming acidic to favour the growth of caries-causing bacteria. When we have a dry mouth this capacity is significantly reduced.


  • Home care: brushing and flossing have the very important role of disrupting and removing plaque (the bacterial biofilm). This allows a more balanced colony of bacteria to thrive.


  • Oral appliances: The most common types would be braces, mouth guards, night guards , clear aligners and sleep apnoea appliances. Often, oral appliances cause areas that are difficult to clean, and therefore be difficult to access when brushing or flossing. As a result, bacteria can form and stay undisturbed to cause decay.


How can CariFree help?

The oral health professional at Hartwell Dentistry will examine your teeth, your medical and dental history, your dietary and home-care habits to determine your individual risk for tooth decay.


CariFree has many benefits factors, which reduce the risk of decay:


  • pH changing: CariFree products are alkaline which helps shift the pH of your oral environment to be less acidic and more conducive to the growth of “good” bacteria.
  • Fluoride:  when teeth are under acid attack, minerals are drawn out of teeth. If minerals are continually drawn out of teeth without being replaced, a cavity can form. Fluoride helps replace minerals that are lost. Once the fluoride is incorporated into the tooth, the enamel tends to be more resistant to acid attacks and stronger than regular enamel.
  • Xylitol: is often used as an artificial sweetener. It is added into CariFree products, as it helps increase the effect of fluoride and cannot be metabolised by caries-causing bacteria. As a result, the bacteria cannot produce acid, and eventually are starved off and die. Xylitol’s sweet taste can stimulate salivary glands to produce more saliva and therefore help protect teeth further.
  • Antibacterial: bacteria tend to form a colony, which can be difficult to penetrate and disrupt. CariFree products contain sodium hypochlorite (0.4%), which is a broad-spectrum oxidising agent. Sodium hypochlorite has the ability to penetrate the biofilm and destroy caries-causing bacteria.
  • Nanoparticles: cavities are formed when too much mineral has been drawn out of the tooth. Teeth are made of hydroxyapatite crystals, which are the basic building blocks of enamel. CariFree products contain nanoparticles, such as nano-hydroxyapatite, which can mimic these basic building blocks, and help put minerals back into the tooth, where it is lost.


CariFree provide products for both adults and children that have been shown to reduce the risk of cavities.

The staff at Hartwell Dentistry will be able to advise you if it is appropriate and in your best interests that you use these preventive products.