Looking Back at 15 Years of CariFree with Dr. V Kim Kutsch, CEO
We are celebrating our 15 year anniversary this month. As we celebrate, it’s a good time to look at what makes CariFree special and why, exactly, it is we do what we do.
As we look back on the progress we’ve made over the last 15 years and consider what lies ahead, we sat down with our founder Dr. V Kim Kutsch, CEO, and Cody Clark, COO, to talk about the “why” of CariFree and what they see in store for the future. Today, we’ll share Dr. Kutsch’s vision and reflections on what makes CariFree work.
How long have you been with CariFree?
I have been with CariFree from the beginning. 19 years ago, I actually did the background research that led to the development of the CariFree product line and the company’s launch 15 years ago.
In your early days, what was your why? What was the company’s why?
My why has always been about finding a better way to treat tooth decay. I want to help people understand the disease and become decay-free for life. I wanted products that were based on our scientific evidence about the disease. That was my why then; even more so, it’s my why today.
Has your why changed over the past 15 years since you started? Has the company why changed?
No, my why has remained the same—if anything it’s even intensified. The past 15 years has taught me that we are on the right track. Initially, I underestimated the emotional and physical toll that disease has on people. Every day we hear testimonials about how much CariFree changed and improved somebody’s life, and that keeps me motivated. I would love to find a simple cure for this disease, but it is such a complex disease that there will never be a simple one-size-fits all magic-pill style cure. Still, we have managed to help people who had previously given up hope to find the path to health and stay the course.
What do you think has been the backbone or element that has led to the growth and success of CariFree over 15 years?
Two things really. First and foremost, the CariFree system works. We know that; we hear and celebrate the success stories every day. Second, it’s the people. The CariFree team never ceases to amaze me. They have embraced the mission and are the reason for the company’s success. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with such talented and dedicated people.
How do you see CariFree changing in the next 15 years? Where do you see the company in 2034?
I think CariFree will continue to innovate and lead the movement to fight this horrible disease. We will continue to develop products based on growing scientific evidence and the wants and needs of our customers. We will be responsive and responsible. I see the company growing and helping to improve more people’s lives.
If you could go back and talk to yourself on your first day working with CariFree, what would you tell yourself that you wish you would have known then that you know now?
I would tell my younger self to be patient and persevere, not listen to the critics who said it couldn’t be done. I would also tell myself to be bolder and believe in the science and our outcomes. My big goal was to find a cure for this disease in 10 years time. That was bold, but that didn’t happen. It was an honorable goal, but I now realize that looking for a single cure was the wrong approach. What we did find was a predictable way to help people manage the disease, become healthy and significantly reduce their risk for future tooth decay, possibly even becoming decay-free for life. Maybe that’s not a “cure” in the simplest sense, but dental caries isn’t a simple disease.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and readability.