CariFree Turns 20!

We can’t believe it, but this month we’re celebrating 20 years of CariFree. In honor of this celebratory month, we’ve interviewed CariFree founder and CEO, Dr. Kim Kutsch, to get his thoughts on why he developed these products and where he hopes to go from here. Enjoy!

What inspired you to become a dentist?

After a dental visit when I was six years old I told my mom I wanted to be a dentist when I grew up. I was fascinated by everything in the dental office. As I got older, that desire never changed and helping people became a driving motivation in my life and dentistry has allowed me to do just that. I am so thankful I became a dentist and can’t imagine my life as having done anything else.

Kim 20 Year Old Photo

Dr. Kutsch as a 20-year-old

Why did you decide to start CariFree?

After 20 years in practice, I was frustrated that my patients continued to get cavities. They were doing everything I was asking them to do, but they still got new decay. It was then I realized that what I had been taught wasn’t working, or let’s say it was treating cavities but it wasn’t addressing what was causing the cavities. So I focused my studies on trying to understand the disease and sought help from the best experts in the world. When I finally understood the disease, I kept coming back to Dr. Phil Marsh’s research about pH in the mouth being a primary factor. So I put his theory to practice and knew I needed alkaline products for my patients, and I discovered there really weren’t any. Having started other dental manufacturing companies before, I knew how to develop products and navigate that process. I knew my patients needed them, and ultimately everybody would benefit from them. It was basically understanding the science, seeing a gap in products, and creating something new.

Products that have ingredients like nano hydroxyapatite, sodium hypochlorite and elevated pH weren’t on anyone’s radar 20 years ago in the US. What made you realize that these were necessary ingredients for cavity prevention?

The science was all there. I had used the existing gold standard approach and didn’t get the outcomes I was looking for. So understanding the science, I worked on combining strategies to create products that provide as much range of benefit as possible. pH is foundational, but adding fluoride, nano-HA, and xylitol provide even better benefit. And sodium hypochlorite combined with these ingredients offered great antimicrobial treatment along with the benefits of all of the other strategies combined. Often times by combining multiple strategies in a single easy to use products, the total benefit is greater than the sum of the parts. Why use fluoride alone when we know that fluoride plus xylitol is even better. The same with nano-HA, adding fluoride increases the benefit. So combining as many science supported ingredients as possible just makes logical sense.

Who was the first patient that you noticed CariFree working well for? Or do you remember a specific moment where you realized they are life changing products?

In the early days I remember a vast number of patients who just suddenly stopped getting cavities after using the products for six months or so. And after being healthy and decay free then for two years or longer, I really began to appreciate how life changing it was for people. And it was immeasurably life changing or me. Suddenly I was truly able to help people get decay free and healthy for the first time in my career. It was one success story after another, and it deepened  my commitment to make a difference and help people.

Where do you hope to see CariFree 20 years from now?

My dreams for the company are pretty straightforward. I want to continue to develop products that work and improve the quality of life for as many people as possible. I continue to see gaps in our profession with other diseases and conditions and I think we can offer hope to people. A lot of dental disease is preventable, some very treatable, and some that is manageable with the best products and strategies. I want to be a part of that journey.

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