At the heart of the CALCiViS imaging system is the CALCiViS photoprotein; a dental biologic which produces light when it reacts with free calcium ions released from actively demineralising tooth surfaces.
CALCiViS photoprotein is similar to that which certain marine organisms create to produce bioluminescence in the ocean.
When CALCiViS photoprotein contacts free calcium ions, such as those released from actively demineralising tooth surfaces, a very short, low-level flash of light (luminescence) is created which is undetectable by the naked eye. Luminescence is different to fluorescence: the reflection of a light by a substance that has had another light energy shone on it.
Unique to CALCiViS imaging system, the resulting luminescence occurs only in the presence of free calcium ions (bound calcium in sound enamel does not generate the light signal) meaning that CALCiViS can differentiate between active lesions and inactive lesions/sound tooth surfaces.