Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Gili Naveh, the founder of CaviSense who is working towards SDG 3: Good Health & Well-Being.
Spiffy: I’m excited to talk to you today, Gili. Welcome! Can you tell me what challenge CaviSense is addressing?
Gili: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Do you know that nine out of ten adults and more than half of the children have tooth decay? Dental cavities (tooth decay) are unpleasant to have since they cause pain, infections, unpleasant treatments in the dental office, and they make our smile ugly. As scientists we know exactly how dental cavities form and grow. We also know that at early stages, dental cavities are reversible, which means you can treat them without any drilling or fillings. The problem is that at this point dentists don't have the right tools to identify cavities at these early stages, and therefore they do many fillings. This is where CaviSense is getting into the picture. We developed a device that helps dentists to see these early-stage cavities and reverse them.
Spiffy: You’ve definitely identified an area of need! What motivated you to do it?
Gili: I am both a scientist and a dentist. I would like to see our scientific discoveries help kids and people much faster and more efficiently. I am also a mother and I believe that dental cavities should not be the most prevalent childhood infectious disease. We have enough knowledge and now the technology to change that. CaviSense would like to allow people to check whether they have small cavities from home so that they can get to the dentist early enough and reverse (heal) that cavity without drilling and filling.
Spiffy: How would you say that CaviSense is working towards a more equitable world?
Gili: CaviSense lets people check if they have dental cavities from home, so if they live far away from the dentist they will be able to know that they have a very small cavity that can be reversed (healed). These reversing treatments are in the form of applying a polish or a paste, and hence not expensive, so many more people and children will be able to heal their teeth before they grow into cavities that need fillings. Moreover if the dentist is too busy his dental assistant can also help you with these treatments. In this manner we can treat cavities earlier.
Spiffy: Is there a CaviSense recent milestone or initiative that you’d like to share, and the impact it makes?
Gili: We know that many people would like to use our device at home so they can tell if they have cavities. Many people don't know that dentists would also like to make sure that all kids and adults have healthier teeth and can monitor their cavities from home. Our company is creating a network of such dentists that would like to join us. Only together can we help people take control of their oral health. Our oral health is not only important to our teeth and aesthetics, but is also linked to our general health. People with bad teeth or teeth that hurt cannot eat healthy food. Therefore by keeping our teeth healthier we can help people to live a healthier, happier, and longer life.
Spiffy: That’s so great! Now, steering towards the other side. Can you share an experience of facing failure when you didn’t give up, and what you learned from it?
Gili: As a scientist in order to be able to make new discoveries, your lab needs to get funding to pay for the materials, measuring instruments, and scientists. To do so a scientist usually writes a grant proposal in which all the planned experiments are described in detail. This is very hard work. In many cases these grant proposals are not selected for funding and then the scientist needs to improve the proposal or write a different one. When I started my lab I wrote proposals that were not selected. I was quite sad and disappointed; however I decided to understand what can be improved and asked people their opinion that knew better than me . Eventually I succeeded and received different funds that led to developing CaviSense technology.
Spiffy: I believe you can learn from anyone and I love lessons from kids, peers, or even pets! What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Gili: I learned that when dogs lose their baby teeth, they are not as wiggly as kids teeth and that they barely notice they fall!
Spiffy: Oh wow, what a note to end this on! Thanks for speaking with me today, Gili. It’s been an honor!
Gili Naveh is a dentist, scientist, and the founder of CaviSense. She developed the technology behind CaviSense with a vision to enable early detection and prevention. CaviSense’s mission is to transform oral health with at-home dental monitoring and diagnostics to enable early detection and empower people to take control of their oral health. (Nominated by Thara Pillai at Launch Lab X Geo. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 3, 2022)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.